Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group

reslience runners


News, Events and Announcements 

 * Seminar Video Now Available *
Winter 2022 Seminar
Heather Elizabeth Whitson, MD, Professor of Medicine at Duke University,
The Science of Bouncing Back from Health Stressors: Development and Application of the Duke Pepper Model of Physical Resilience


The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), in its role as a coordinating office within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director (OD), established the Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group in 2019 to bring together NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) that have strategic priorities related to, or funds dedicated to, resilience programs. The group identified the need for a comprehensive resilience research model that complements the NIH’s mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and to promote the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. Currently, the 27 NIH Institutes and Centers largely focus on specific disease states or body systems and seek to gain a better understanding of the biologic, environmental, and behavioral components that impact diseases and diseased populations. This focus has enabled the NIH to identify and/or develop mechanisms to treat and/or prevent various conditions. Resilience research complements this focus with non-disease or disease-agnostic models for studying health maintenance and resilience.

More than half of the ICOs at NIH have strategic priorities related to resilience or funds dedicated to resilience programs. In addition, NIH-sponsored forums have highlighted the important role of resilience research studies toward the advancement of the biomedical sciences. Several overlapping outcomes and recommendations were products of the forums, with a key recurring outcome being the specified need for common frameworks to define and assess resilience across various health/disease domains.

The Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group's efforts to advance NIH research on resilience include:
  • Development of a common resilience definition and conceptual framework 
  • Development of a resilience research design and decision tool
  • Webinar series on resilience research designs and outcomes
  • Coordination of trans-NIH resilience activities and initiatives

Defining and Conceptualizing Resilience

NIH seeks fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability through the study of resilience. Resilience encompasses the capacity to resist, adapt to, recover, or grow from a challenge.

The infographic below illustrates the concept that over time, a system’s response to a challenge might show varied degrees of reactions that likely fluctuate in response to the severity of the challenge, the length of time exposed to the challenge, and/or innate biological factors.

 reslience infographic

A system can be represented by various factors that impact human health, including environmental or community exposures as well as an individual’s psychological, physiological, and molecular capacity. When systems are impacted by a challenge or stressor, the magnitude, duration, or type of stressor (or innate and intrinsic factors) may determine a system’s response. For example, if exposure to a challenge or stressor results in no perturbation to a system, then the system has responded by resisting the challenge. If the system is initially stressed but ultimately returns to baseline status, then the system recovered from the challenge. If the recovery trajectory results in an improvement compared with baseline, then the system showed growth or a positive adaptive response to the challenge. Each of these responses encompass a resilience outcome. In other words, resilience outcomes represent responses that reflect a system’s ability to maintain, return to, or improve with respect to baseline measures. Resilience is reduced when a system’s recovery from a challenge does not bring the system all the way back to baseline. This partial recovery may or may not include a maladaptive response. Resilience is lost if the system’s trajectory fails to recover from a challenge (collapse). The dynamics that influence resilience outcomes are in constant flux over time.

Resilience Research Design Tool

The Resilience Research Design Tool utilizes key resilience research terms and a decision tree to identify experimental designs in funded or proposed studies that best advance the science of resilience. The tool provides guidance on best practices for designing studies that are intended to target resilience outcomes. Download and use the key research terms and decision tool when planning your resilience research designs.

 Resilience Research Design tool and terms

 Resilience Across NIH

The Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group was established to facilitate the coordination and harmonization of a resilience research agenda across NIH. The group is chaired by LaVerne L. Brown, Ph.D., at ODS. Members of the core working group include representatives from ICOs that have strategic priorities and/or funds dedicated for programs related to resilience. ICO representation at the inaugural working group meeting included National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and ODS. The working group has since expanded to include representation from National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR).

Resilience Research Scientific Interest Group (SIG)

The Resilience Research SIG, co-chaired by LaVerne Brown, Ph.D. (NIH Office of Dietary Supplements) and Ann Berger MD (NIH Clinical Center), was established as an extension of the Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group to advance resilience research across NIH and partnering agencies. The Resilience Research SIG will meet monthly to provide input and collaboration towards the development of common systems of use. The resulting input and shared resources/data will be collected, stored, and collated by the ODS Resilience & Health Studies Program.

Mailing List: To join the mailing list, please visit the Resilience Research SIG Listserv home page, then click the “Subscribe or Unsubscribe” link in the right sidebar.

Resilience Research Resources and Helpful Links*

  • Previous and current NIH-funded clinical trials that have the word resilience in the study title, intervention, or condition.
  • Publications from NIH-funded studies that have the word resilience in the title or abstract.
  • Grants that were funded or administered by NIH that have the word resilience in the title, project terms, or abstract.
  • Funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) and notices that have the word resilience in the title or body of the document.
  • Featured NIH YouTube Videos that have the word resilience as a keyword term.

*The resilience research framework is newly developed and may not have been utilized in all resources listed here.

News, Events, and Announcements

Seminar Series

Spring – May 2022
Mark Entman, MD, Katarzyna A. Cieslik, PhD, George E. Taffet, MD — Baylor College of Medicine
"Slowing Down Fibrosis in the Aging Heart – Anti-Inflammatory Approaches with Supplements and Other Compounds"
Together, this team of researchers described their research discoveries of differences in cardiac aging in a rodent model of males and females with respect to inflammation, fibrosis, and diastolic dysfunction. The research team also discussed how the glutathione precursor supplementation improves cardiac function and shows sex-specific resilience in the context of the NRF2 pathway.

Winter –  February 2022
Heather Elizabeth Whitson, MD, Professor of Medicine at Duke University,
“The Science of Bouncing Back from Health Stressors: Development and Application of the Duke Pepper Model of Physical Resilience.” 

Inaugural Webinar – May 2021
Melissa Polusny, PhD, Christopher R. Erbes, PhD (deceased)  — University of Minnesota Medical School and Minnesota VA Health Care System
"Designing Resilience Research in the Context of Military Stress"
During this 1-hour presentation, the speakers discussed their strategies for designing resilience research within the context of military stress for their National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) sponsored study. A brief panel discussion followed the main presentation.

Resilience Virtual Webinar Series

Call for Speakers

The Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group is seeking speakers for a virtual webinar series, Experimental Designs and Outcomes that Advance the Study of Resilience in the Biomedical Sciences. The ideal speakers should have funded research projects and/or publications that meet the criteria for best practices for designing studies to investigate resilience in the biomedical sciences. In addition, potential speakers should be able to discuss best strategies and measurements for exploring resilience outcomes. Forward your speaker nominations to Dr. LaVerne Brown, chair Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group,

Contact the Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group

LaVerne L. Brown, Ph.D. 
Chair, Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group
Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health