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Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group

reslience runners


News, Events and Announcements 


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 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, recovers from the challenge, and the recovered state is an improvement compared with baseline, then the system showed growth or an adaptive response to the challenge. If the system is initially stressed but is ultimately restored to baseline status, then the system recovered from the challenge. Each of these reactions may encompass a resilience outcome. However, resilience is diminished when a system's recovery from a challenge results in a worsened condition compared with baseline (maladaptive response), and resilience is lost if the system 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.

Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)

Request for proposals and other research opportunities funded by ICs across the NIH can be accessed here: Listing of resilience FOAs.

News, Events, and Announcements

Upcoming Events: Seminar Series

Winter – Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 11:00 am ET
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.”

Heather Whitson

Dr. Heather Whitson is an internist, geriatrician and clinical investigator. She is a Professor of Medicine, Ophthalmology, & Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences at Duke University; Director of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development (aka “the Duke Aging Center”); and co-Director of the Duke/UNC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Her overall goal is to optimize independence and resilience in people with multiple chronic conditions. She has particular expertise related to how the aging process and comorbidities affect the brain. Working with transdisciplinary teams, her work has improved outcomes for people with or at risk of vision impairment and cognitive impairment. Dr. Whitson has been an active contributor and thought leader in the emerging field of physical resilience. She co-leads the PRIME Collaborative, a multi-institutional research initiative to identify mechanisms and predictors of recovery after common health stressors (e.g., surgery, hip fracture, vision loss). Through several institutional and national leadership roles, Dr. Whitson coordinates and facilitates efforts to broaden the evidence base and research workforce to improve knowledge and care decisions for medically complex older patients. Dr. Whitson’s contributions to the field of aging were acknowledged by the 2018 American Geriatrics Society Thomas and Yoshikawa Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement in Clinical Investigation.

Spring – Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Mark Entman, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine, Slowing Down Fibrosis in the Aging Heart – Anti-Inflammatory Approaches with Supplements and Other Compounds

Past Events

The Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group Inaugural Webinar, Designing Resilience Research in the Context of Military Stress

During this 1-hour presentation, Drs. Melissa Polusny and Christopher R. Erbes (deceased) from the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minnesota VA Health Care System, 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.

The recording of this webinar is now available for public view on the NIH VideoCast Past Events website: (Originally presented on May 19, 2021)

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