The NIA-funded Columbia Roybal Center for Fearless Behavior Change will fund one-year pilot studies relevant to developing health behavior interventions for patients who have suffered acute medical events. Our prior research has shown that many patients develop fear-based responses to these traumatic events (e.g., fear of recurrence, heightened distress from internal physiologic stimuli) that lead to avoidance of the very health behaviors (e.g., exercise, take medications regularly) that are recommended to prevent recurrence. Accordingly, our Center seeks to develop interventions that address these fear-related mechanisms. Relevant study populations include, but are not limited to, patients with stroke, myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, COPD, heart failure, respiratory failure, COVID-19, or recent diagnosis with cancer or end-stage renal disease. Relevant behavioral outcomes include, but are not limited to, medication adherence, physical activity, sleep, as well as measures of psychological distress and quality of life. The goal of the award is to help investigators obtain preliminary data to support independent grant applications to the NIH or other funders. Applicants are encouraged to follow the experimental medicine approach to intervention development promoted by the Science of Behavior Change.

Award Amount

$35,000 (includes direct and indirect costs). Investigators will also gain in-kind support from the research infrastructure at the Columbia Roybal Center.


Applicants can be post-doctoral research fellows or faculty at any rank. Applicants are not required to be affiliated with Columbia University.


Applications must be submitted by Wednesday, December 1st, 2021.

Notice of Award

Selected projects will be announced on January 4, 2022. Funding is expected to begin July 1, 2022, pending NIA approval.

Note: Projects that address fear of pain have the opportunity to apply for co-funding from the Translational Institute on Pain in Later Life (, another Roybal Center based at Weill Cornell Medical College and Cornell University.


For questions about the scientific content, please contact Ian Kronish, MD, MPH; Director, Columbia Roybal Center, at sends e-mai)
For questions about the application process and format, please contact Darlene Straussman, at sends e-mail)

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