Roybal Center


The Roybal Center at YINS

Roybal Pilot Projects

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Center for Study of Networks and Well-Being

Based at the Yale Institute for Network Science, our Roybal Center examines the intersection of health, health care, and well-being by improving our understanding of the forms of social organization in which individuals are embedded.  By recognizing that complex, supra-individual social network structures play an important role in individual health, we seek to ask significant questions about the roles social networks play in health, as well as develop methods to further answer such questions.

The Roybal Center for the Study of Networks and Well Being was moved from Harvard University to Yale in 2013 and was awarded a competing five-year renewal in October of 2014, and is currently being re-established and focusing on getting existing pilot projects up and running. For more information about our Roybal Center, contact the center’s Executive Director Tom Keegan.


To promote research that explores how social networks affect the health and well being of Americans across the lifespan, with the goal of developing and implementing practical methods that will help to improve the health and well being of older people.


Two approaches to understanding the effects of social networks on well being thematically link the research agenda embodied in this Roybal Center’s program of research. Generally speaking, the projects in our Roybal Center explore the themes of social network connection and contagion. First, our work examines how health and well being are affected by the figural structure of social networks. To accomplish this, we encourage the development of projects that explore how the structure of both face-to-face social networks and online social networks affect health and well being. Here, we are interested in how the particular pattern of social ties around a person affects his or her well-being, and vice-versa, and we are interested in how the structure of ties in a community affects its response to health-related and behavioral interventions. Second, we encourage the study of how health and well-being are affected by the flow or contagion of phenomena (e.g., information, norms, behaviors, germs) across network ties, or the influence of others to whom people are connected. Our Roybal Center emphasizes both observational and experimental approaches. In general, it is our opinion that the cause of science is best advanced by a mixture of methods, because, whatever one gains in robustness of causal inference by using experiments, one can sometimes lose in clinical verisimilitude.


Edward R. Roybal Centers for Research on Applied Gerontology were authorized by Congress in 1993 and named for former House Select Committee on Aging Chair Edward R. Roybal (1916-2005).

The Roybal Centers are designed to move promising social and behavioral basic research findings out of the laboratory and into programs, practices and policies that will improve the lives of older people and the capacity of society to adapt to societal aging.

The Roybal Center for the Study of Networks and Well Being is one of 13 Edward R. Roybal Centers for Research on Applied Gerontology, funded by the National Institute on Aging (part of the National Institutes of Health). The centers are designed to translate social and behavioral research findings into programs and policies aimed at improving the health, quality of life and productivity of older Americans.

Apply for Roybal Funding from YINS


The Roybal Center for the Study of Social Networks and Well Being seeks applications for pilot project grants. We are especially interested in proposals from junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows whose interests in topics related to the Roybal Center themes show particular promise for obtaining results that will expand our knowledge of social network effects on health, health behavior, and well being in aging populations. Grants may be used: to support faculty salaries (for example, summer salary support); for travel, research assistance, acquisition of research materials (including electronic databases); to facilitate communication with colleagues and institutions in other countries; or for other appropriate research purposes as allowed by the National Institutes of Health. Grants may also be used to acquire special computer software and databases.


Anyone able to serve as Principal Investigator of an NIH grant may apply for funding. Graduate students may not apply directly for a pilot project but a faculty member may include salary support for a graduate student in their application and serve as mentor to a graduate student who takes a substantial lead in the pilot project.


The pilot project Review Committee of the Roybal Center will review grants on a rolling basis. Quality applications proposing innovative ideas are always welcome. The Review Committee will evaluate proposals for scientific merit and relevance of the proposed projects to the overall themes of the Center. Awards will be announced and applicants notified within 60 days of application, usually substantially less. The decisions of the review committee must be ratified by the NIA before funds may be disbursed in the form of a subcontract to the awardee institution. Awards are generally expected to be in the $10-20,000 (annual direct cost) range, but larger projects will be considered.


Since these awards will be made from federal funds, they will be administered in accordance with PHS-NIH grant policies. Funded projects will require Harvard IRB and local awardee IRB approval. Studies that involve use of data from foreign human subjects/or collaboration with foreign individuals or institutions may require US State Department Foreign Clearance. For multi-year projects, grantees will report on the previous year’s work and present a work plan for the coming year. These will be circulated to and discussed by the pilot project Review Committee in order to approve continued funding. Upon completion of the project, the project leader will be required to submit a brief report of the work carried out under the grant to the Center Director and will be required to present the findings from the project in the ongoing Networks and Neighborhoods Seminar.


Applications may be submitted at any time, but fall/winter is a generally more advantageous time to apply due to the funding period schedule. Those interested in applying should contact the Center Deputy Director Tom Keegan directly to discuss their proposal and budget in advance of submitting an official proposal. The final proposal will require a brief (2-4 page) research plan and detailed NIH-format budget.

Selected Pilot Projects Completed at Our Center

Pilot Projects

The investigators of this pilot are developing a computational method that uses egocentric network samples to learn about the structure of the underlying unobserved network. They use this method...

Visualization of Oncologist Network Spanning 15 SEER Regions 1993–2009

In this pilot project, the investigators created oncologist-oncologist networks based on shared patients using data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End-...

Our study team and local partners

Logistically, this study aimed to develop a novel network survey method in the resource-limited setting of Uganda, in order to accurately measure several types of social network interactions (...

This study aimed to assess the potential of social network-based targeting to improve the dissemination of public health interventions. In 32 villages in rural Honduras, we conducted a randomized...

The largest connected network of physicians in the survey: (A) shows the relationships among the sampled physician population (including nonrespondents) as measured by the relationships presented in the survey; (B) shows the same network, with the addition of all relationships measured by administrative claims.

The goal of this project was to develop and test a survey to measure referral partners and information exchange partners within a sample of primary care and specialist physicians. To accomplish...