Issue 07 (April 5)

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2016 Golden Goose Awards Choose Landmark Add Health Study

The researchers behind the landmark National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Study, otherwise known as Add Health, have been chosen to receive the first of the 2016 Golden Goose Awards. The study, conceived by Drs. Peter Bearman, Barbara Entwisle, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ronald Rindfuss, and Richard Udry in the late 1980s and early 1990s while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a federally-funded study designed to “illuminate the impact of social and environmental factors on adolescent health.” The Award honors “scientists whose federally-funded work may have seemed odd or obscure when it was first conducted but has resulted in significant benefits to society.”

Add Health findings have helped to identify major determinants of health and health behaviors during the transition from adolescence to early adulthood. The study followed its original nationally-representative cohort for more than 20 years. Add Health “combines longitudinal survey data on respondents’ social, economic, psychological and physical well-being with contextual data on the family, neighborhood, community, school, friendships, peer groups, and romantic relationships, providing unique opportunities to study how social environments and behaviors in adolescence are linked to health and achievement outcomes in young adulthood.” It has provided insights into the ways that families, schools, neighborhoods, and peers can influence positive health outcomes.  This insight also led to better understanding of negative outcomes and behaviors, such as violent behavior, drinking, illegal drug use, smoking, and sexual behavior. A 1998 COSSA Congressional seminar, What Do We Know About Adolescent Health: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, allowed the researchers to share some of the study’s initial findings with Congress. The study’s name was recently changed to the National Longitudinal Study of Adult Health.

The researchers, along with two other teams of still-unnamed Golden Goose Award recipients, will be honored at the fifth Golden Goose Award Ceremony in September. COSSA is a sponsor of the awards.

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COSSA Submits FY 2017 CJS Testimony

COSSA has submitted its annual Outside Witness Testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). COSSA’s testimony for fiscal year (FY) 2017 addresses the need for strong funding of the National Science Foundation, Census Bureau, National Institute of Justice, and Bureau of Justice Statistics. Click here to read testimony submitted to the House, and here for the Senate.

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Members of Congress Submit Funding Requests for Social and Behavioral Science Agencies

Over the past several weeks, Members of Congress have been signing their names to “Dear Colleague” letters, formal requests to the House and Senate appropriations committees for specific funding levels for various federal agencies. COSSA has been tracking letters in support of strong funding for the agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences on our funding updates page. COSSA appreciates the efforts of all of the Members who have signed on to the letters below:

In addition to the requests for specific appropriations levels, a bipartisan letter in the House reaffirms support for the National Science Foundation’s “current practice of setting national scientific research priorities, investing in all disciplines of science, and using the merit review systems for determining which grant proposals to fund.” A letter in the Senate urges appropriators to include funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence.

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Interagency Committee Releases National Nutrition Research Roadmap

The federal Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research (ICHNR) has released a five-year nutrition research plan, the National Nutrition Research Roadmap 2016-2021: Advancing Nutrition Research to Improve and Sustain Health. The Roadmap will help coordinate the nutrition research efforts funded by agencies across the federal government, as well as workforce development and training programs in support of nutrition research. The ICHNR is made up of representatives from agencies across the federal government, including the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), among others.

The Roadmap lays out three major nutrition research priorities for federal research efforts, sub-topics within each priority, and where the federal agencies’ interests lie regarding each research question. The three overarching priorities for federal nutrition research are: (1) Understanding and defining eating patterns to improve and sustain health, (2) Helping people choose healthy eating patterns, and (3) Developing and engaging innovative methods and systems to accelerate discoveries in human nutrition.

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More than 300 Social Science Students Selected as NSF Graduate Research Fellows

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced the 2,000 winners of the annual Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program competition. Among the 2016 winners are 311 social and behavioral science researchers from across the U.S. The GRF program provides three years of financial support over a five-year fellowship period for graduate study that leads to a master’s or doctoral research degree in a STEM field, including social science. It is one of NSF’s flagship programs aimed at fostering the next generation of the STEM workforce and ensuring diversity within the workforce.

The 2,000 awardees were chosen from about 17,000 total applications. The winners in the social and behavioral sciences come from the following disciplines and fields of study: psychology (136), archeology/anthropology (57), economics (31), sociology (30), political science (20), geography (14), linguistics (8), history/American studies (3), international relations (3), law and social science (2), communication (2), urban and regional planning (2), decision making/risk analysis (1), peace studies (1), and natural resources (1).

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AHRQ Accepting Advisory Council Nominations

In November 2016, seven vacancies will open on the National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, the advisory body to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The council is seeking nominations for new members who have expertise in: “(1) The conduct of research, demonstration projects, and evaluations with respect to health care; (2) the fields of health care quality research or health care improvement; (3) the practice of medicine; (4) other health professions; (5) representing the private health care sector (including health plans, providers, and purchasers) or administrators of health care delivery systems; (6) the fields of health care economics, information systems, law, ethics, business, or public policy; and, (7) the representation of the interests of patients and consumers of health care.” More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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NCCIH Seeks Input on Draft 2016-2021 Strategic Plan

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NICCIH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking input on its draft NCCIH Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2016-2021. Following up on a previous request for information (RFI), along with the response provided by its National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health and the NCCIH staff, this RFI is intended to seek the input of the larger public, including researchers and scientific/professional organizations, among others. NCCIH specifically is seeking comments on the five strategic objectives and the six high priorities contained in the plan. Comments will be accepted through April 15, 2016.

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NIMH Seeks Input on Tasks and Measures for the RDoC

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking input from stakeholders, the scientific community, and the general public related to its Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework. RDoC is defined as a “new way of classifying mental disorders based on dimensions of observable behavior and neurobiological measures.” Specifically, the Institute is seeking input regarding “existing tests with known construct validity, and also general suggestions on the most important criteria to consider when selecting candidate tests.” NIMH’s National Advisory Mental Health Council will convene a workgroup “charged with the task of recommending a list of valid and reliable tests for potential use for each construct.” To support the Council’s effort, the RDoC unit “seeks input and recommendations of tests with: (1) good construct validity as a measure of as a specific RDoC construct; (2) robust psychometrics; and (3) suitability for use across diverse participants.” The Institute is also seeking input regarding the “criteria that should be considered when selecting candidate tests.” Responses are due April 22, 2016.

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CPR & CNSF to hold Congressional Exhibition and Reception: “Wasteful” Research? Looking Beyond the Abstract

April 13 Wasteful Research InviteWhy would a scientist put a shrimp on a treadmill? Can text messages really serve as a health intervention? You may have heard or read about some of these projects, but for the full story, come and speak to the scientists themselves.

The COSSA-led Coalition to Promote Research (CPR) and the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) are cosponsoring a reception and poster session for policymakers to provide a closer look at research grants that have been highlighted in recent congressional and media reports. In addition, see posters explaining how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) choose which projects to fund, learn about the role of peer/merit review, and leave with a better appreciation for research that has beaten long odds to be funded by these competitive, world-class U.S. science agencies.

The event will take place on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 5-7pm in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building. Click here for more information, and here to RSVP.

The event is co-hosted by the American Psychological Association, Consortium of Social Science Associations, and Elsevier. Sponsors include the American Educational Research Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of Public & Land-grant Universities, Coalition for the Life Sciences, Population Association of America, and Society for Research in Child Development. Supporters of the event include AAAS, American Anthropological Association, American Physiological Society, American Sociological Association, Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Midwest Political Science Association, and SAGE Publishing.

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New Academies Study on Advancing Social and Behavioral Science within the Weather Enterprise Seeks Committee Members

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has announced a new study, “Advancing Social and Behavioral Science Research and Application within the Weather Enterprise,” and is seeking nominees to serve on the study committee. The goal of the study is to “to develop a framework for generating and applying social and behavioral science (SBS) research within the context of meteorology, weather forecasting, and weather preparedness and response.” The Academies is particularly interested in candidates with expertise in the following fields: weather forecasting, meteorological research, behavioral economics, communication research, decision making, risk perception, assessment and communication, human factors and product design, disaster and risk management and response, meteorology education and work force development, and weather institutions and policy. More information on submitting nominations is available here. Nominations are due by April 13, 2016.

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Events Calendar

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA website. COSSA members who have an upcoming event they would like to see listed in the Events Calendar and on our website should send an email to jmilton@cossa.org.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • NIJ: Research and Evaluation on Victims of Crime (NIJ-2016-9600)
  • NIJ: FY 2016 Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (NIJ-2016-9093)
  • ED/IFLE: Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation for Research Abroad
  • FDA: Development, Implementation, and Management of a Funding System to Advance Conformance with the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (VNRFRPS) (U18), (RFA-FD-16-016)
  • FDA: Strengthen and Promote the Role of Local Health Departments in Retail Food Safety Regulation (U50), (RFA-FD-16-019)
  • FDA: Strengthening Partnerships with State Legislatures to Promote the Safety of FDA Regulated Products and Advance Public Health (U18), (RFA-FD-16-041)
  • AHRQ: AHRQ Announces Interest in Research that Uses Shared Decision Making as a Tool to Improve the Quality of Care for Low Income and Racial and Ethnic Minority Patients, (NOT-HS-16-010)

NIH Opportunities:

  • NIH: Director’s New Innovator Award Program (DP2), (RFA-RM-16-004)
  • NIH: Pioneer Award Program (DP1), (RFA-RM-16-005)
  • NIH: Director’s Transformative Research Awards (R01), (RFA-RM-16-007)
  • NIH: Research Project Grant (Parent R01), (PA-16-160) [NCCIH, NCI, NEI, NHGRI, NHLBI, NIA, NIAAA, NIAID, NIAMS, NIBIB, NICHD, NIDA, NIDCD, NIDCR, NIDDK, NIEHS, NIGMS, NIMH, NIMHD, NINDS, NINR, NLM]
  • NIH: Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21), (PA-16-161) [NCCIH, NEI, NHGRI, NIA, NIAAA, NIAID, NIAMS, NIBIB, NICHD, NIDCD, NIDCR, NIEHS, NIMHD, NINDS, NINR, NLM]
  • NIH: Small Research Grant Program (Parent R03), (PA-16-162) [NHGRI, NIA, NIAAA, NIAID, NIBIB, NICHD, NIDA, NIEHS, NIMH, NIMHD, NINDS,
  • NIH: Population Health Interventions: Integrating Individual and Group Level Evidence (R01), (PA-16-146), (R21) (PA-16-147), [OBSSR, NCI, NIAAA, NIDA, NIDCR]
  • NIMH/NIA: Adult Maturational Changes and Dysfunctions in Emotion Regulation (R21), (RFA-MH-17-400), (R01) (RFA-MH-17-405)
  • NIOSH: Cooperative Research Agreements Related to the World Trade Center Health Registry (U50) (RFA-OH-16-001)
  • NIMH: Collaborative Hubs to Reduce the Burden of Suicide among American Indian and Alaska Native Youth (U19) (RFA-MH-17-350)

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House Science Committee Discusses FY 2017 NSF Budget; Social Science Highlighted

On March 22, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology held an oversight hearing to discuss the fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF Director France Córdova and Chair of the National Science Board, Dan Arvizu, testified before the Subcommittee. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) chaired the hearing.

In his opening statement, Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), a PhD political scientist, expressed the importance getting more people to understand the critical role NSF plays, especially across all disciplines of science. In addition, and noting that the discussion could turn to the issue of priority setting among NSF’s research directorates, Lipinski quoted House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) who stated during his Subcommittee’s hearing last week that he does not wish to appropriate specific funding levels for each of NSF’s individual directorates, instead leaving the decision to the agency. That statement was directed at full Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), who has been a vocal critic of federal support for social and behavioral science research and has called for major cuts to social and behavioral science research through his America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1806).

In contrast, Chairman Smith remained quiet during the hearing, noting that he had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Córdova privately earlier in the day, in which they “exchanged views” on a variety of topics. His only question during the hearing centered on the extent to which NSF prioritizes computer science, which is a pet interest for him. However, Smith’s written statement, which he submitted for the hearing record, continues his assault on social and behavioral science research projects funded by NSF, stating:

“Tight federal budget constraints require all taxpayer dollars to be spent on high value science in the national interest. Unfortunately, NSF has funded a number of projects that do not meet the highest standards of scientific merit – from a $500,000 grant to help amateurs create a video game called “Relive Prom Night” to $1.5 million for studying pasture management in Mongolia.”

Similar to her testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on March 16, Dr. Córdova started her prepared statement by discussing the recent ground-breaking detection of gravitational waves at LIGO, an NSF-supported facility, noting that the discovery is a product of decades of investment by NSF, a nod to the long-term nature of basic science investment and discovery.

On a less positive note, she discussed the ongoing decline of NSF’s funding rate, which now hovers just over 20 percent. Under NSF’s current budget, about $4 billion worth of grants that have been reviewed as “very good” to “excellent” go unfunded each year, which, as Dr. Córdova stated, is an invitation for researchers to leave the field. She testified that the President’s request for NSF would begin to address these challenges.

Dr. Arvizu discussed the National Science Board’s role in setting future science priorities, stressing the need for NSF to continue to push the frontiers of science if the U.S. is to remain a global innovation leader. Arvizu also expressed the Board’s support for social, behavioral, and economic sciences, noting that questions in the social and behavioral sciences are often “among the hardest to crack.”

Most of the questions from the committee centered on programs and research areas of personal interest, including STEM education, broadening participation in science, computer science, cybersecurity, among others. However, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-WA), in noting a visit she had with a private sector constituent as part of COSSA’s Social and Behavioral Science Advocacy Day last week, expressed her support for social and behavioral science research, including as it relates to private industry interests, and asked Dr. Córdova for examples of NSF-supported research in these fields that have made a difference. Córdova listed several examples, including measurement, data linkage, and integration of diverse sources of information (e.g. survey, mass media, and social media data), which is of importance to the Department of Defense in the area of situational awareness; understanding the social and behavioral responses to cybersecurity; and helping us respond better to natural and human-made disasters. She added that social and behavioral science is part of every cross-disciplinary initiative at NSF, which further shows the importance of these sciences to everything NSF does.

An archived webcast of the hearing and the witness’s written testimony can be found on the Subcommittee’s website.

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