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Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate
is even more recent—it is likely that there are many current researchers who have gaps in their scientific training. Furthermore, training is needed for pre- and postdoctoral students. While universities (and high schools), NIH, and other funders of research training share responsibility for educating researchers, NIH, as the major funder of biomedical and behavioral research, is poised to make major contributions to training a cadre of researchers to conduct transdisciplinary research. Several existing mechanisms could be used as is or modified to facilitate the education of investigators in transdisciplinary research. Therefore, the committee recommends the following:
Recommendation 8: Expand and Enhance Training for Transdisciplinary Researchers.The NIH should use existing and modifiedtraining tools both to reach the next generation of researchers andto enhance the training of current researchers. Approaches includeindividual fellowships (F31, F32) and senior fellowships (F33),transdisciplinary institutional grants (T32, T90), and short courses. (Chapter 9)
The study of interactions presents a significant need for datasets that provide information across multiple disciplines, thus allowing the evaluation of gene-environment interactions. Datasets to study such interactions are typically large, difficult to collect, and costly. Therefore, it is important to support the development and use of datasets that can be shared among a wide audience of researchers.
Datasets that already include biological and genetic measures could be augmented to include social and behavioral variables. However, these additions must not only be feasible, but more importantly, they must be scientifically compelling. Alternatively, new datasets with the necessary variables could be developed. For example, health conditions or diseases could be identified for which there is a suspected or known genetic contribution, behavioral factors are likely to be involved, and hypotheses have been formed regarding the role of social factors.
Because there is a significant need for datasets that provide information for the three domains discussed (social, behavioral, and genetic factors), the committee recommends the following:
Recommendation 9: Enhance Existing and Develop New Datasets.The NIH should support datasets that can be used by investigatorsto address complex levels of social, behavioral, and genetic variables and their interactive pathways (i.e., physiological). Thisshould include the enhancement of existing datasets that alreadyprovide many, but not all, of the needed measures (e.g., the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, ADDHealth) and the encouragement of their use. Furthermore, NIH should develop new