The SIG Beat


NEW SIG: Religion, Spirituality, and Health Scientific Interest Group

The new Religion, Spirituality, and Health Scientific Interest Group (RSH-SIG) aims to foster communication, promote collaboration, and facilitate the exchange of information, understanding, and resources concerning the impact of religion and spirituality (R/S) on health and health outcomes. The SIG will also further the understanding of research on the intersection of R/S and health in order to promote cura personalis, or “care for the entire person,” including in the areas of prevention, treatment, and recovery from addiction and other diseases and health conditions.

By delivering lectures and hosting networking events and symposia, the RSH-SIG will serve as a resource for the broader NIH and professional community including providing information on R/S terms, measurement tools, and interventions. The RSH-SIG is open to all persons within the NIH and associated agencies as well as others who share an interest in the intersection of R/S and health. The multidisciplinary steering committee includes Rezvan Ameli (NIMH), intramural advisor Ann Berger (CC Pain and Palliative Care), Madelon Halula (NIAID), Raye Litten (NIAAA), John M. Pollack (CC Spiritual Care Department), extramural advisor Deidra Roach (NIAAA), Dan Xi (NCI), Joan Romaine (NIAAA), and Christina Brackna (NCCIH).

Beginning in February 2021, the group will meet for seminars and discussions on the second Tuesday of each month, 2:00–3:00 p.m. The meetings will be held virtually for the foreseeable future. The first meeting will be held virtually on February 9, 2021, with NIH Director Francis Collins giving a talk titled “Harmonizing the Spiritual and Scientific Worldviews.”

To receive email notices of meetings and how to attend, please subscribe to the RSH-SIG LISTSERV. For more information, visit the RSH-SIG webpage. For questions, please contact Joan Romaine at

NEW SIG: Rural Health Interest Group

The NIH Rural Health Interest Group (RHIG) is a transdisciplinary group of scientists at NIH institutes, centers, and offices who provide scientific leadership, vision, and support to strengthen rural-health research. The RHIG seeks to build and foster a community of intramural and extramural NIH staff with a common interest and expertise in rural-health disparity issues; and to develop a safe environment for the mutual exchange of knowledge and experience. The group provides a trans-NIH forum for sharing and examining programs, initiatives, and strategies that are aligned with the NIH mission, and seeks to enhance and accelerate research among diverse populations in rural areas and geographical regions of the country.

The RHIG through its intramural and extramural programs encourages career and professional development of both NIH staff and grant recipients. It serves as a resource to NIH staff for creating and implementing innovative scientific and training programs designed to improve the health of rural communities that are underserved and underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. It’s critical to build upon the current evidence-based programs to fully understand the conditions that precipitate poor health and well-being of the growing diverse rural populations. The next generation of interventions needs to be developed and implemented to improve health outcomes for all. To advance the field of rural-health research, the RHIG is evaluating the state of the science and disseminating scientific information and NIH research priorities through meetings and seminars. The group also recommends topics and speakers for a range of events including the annual NIH Rural Health Seminar. For more information, visit