Issue 15 (August 11)


Congress is Home for Summer Break. Tell them #WhySocialScience

The House left for August recess over a week ago and the Senate followed suit last week, leaving crickets in DC for the next few weeks. As previously reported, progress on the fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations bill all but stalled out as Congress prepared to leave for its month-long summer break. The big question heading into the fall will be whether the GOP leadership in Congress and the Obama White House will be able to come to terms on an endgame for the annual funding bills before the government is forced to shut down for the second time in three years on October 1. Threatening progress is the emergence of concerns surrounding Planned Parenthood funding and the flying of the Confederate flag on federal land. Policy riders such as these could further paralyze the process in the waning days of the current fiscal year, leaving the fate of FY 2016 (which begins October 1) unknown at best.

Republican leaders in Congress have promised in recent days that they will not bend to pressure from some in their caucus to allow the government to shut down over the policy issues mentioned above. Specifically, conservatives in Congress are demanding that must-pass funding legislation, due October 1, include language defunding Planned Parenthood, which would all but guarantee a government shutdown.

The August recess is the perfect time for constituents to engage with their elected officials in their home districts about the issues important to your local community, whether by attending town hall meetings or scheduling your own appointments to speak one-on-one. COSSA has prepared a toolkit to assist social and behavioral scientists in outreach to Congress during these last few weeks of summer. Don’t let these macro political issues distract policy makers from issues important to our science. Tell them #WhySocialScience is important to your state and community!

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COSSA’s State Funding Fact Sheets Now Updated with FY 2013 Data

COSSA has updated its state-by-state funding fact sheets with data for fiscal year (FY) 2013, the most current federally-collected survey data available. The fact sheets use these data to demonstrate the local economic impact of federal investment in the social and behavioral sciences by providing detailed information on how much funding states receive, where it comes from, and where it goes. They are available for all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Click here to see how much funding your state receives.

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Evidence-Based Policymaking Bill Advances through House

On July 27, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2015 (H.R. 1831). Introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) with companion legislation introduced in the Senate (S. 991) by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the bill would establish a 15 member commission tasked with studying how best to expand the use of and/or coordinate federal administrative data for use in evaluation of federal programs. The commission would also explore whether to establish a federal clearinghouse for program and survey data, which would be accessible to “qualified researchers” from the public and private sectors. More information on the bill can be found here.

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William T. Riley Appointed NIH OBSSR Director

rileyOn July 30, National Institute of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins announced the appointment of William “Bill” T. Riley, PhD, as the next Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). Riley has served as Acting Director of the OBSSR since May, 2014.

Riley has been with NIH since 2005, serving as Deputy Director of the Division of AIDS and Health & Behavior Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). He joined the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as Program Director of the Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences in 2009. In 2012 he moved to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) where he served as Chief of NCI’s Science of Research and Technology Branch in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. Prior to coming to NIH, Riley was the Director of Research at PICS, Inc., and taught at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Medical College of Georgia. (more…)

NIH Office of Extramural Research Releases 2013-2014 Report

Research grants to extramural scientists represent more than 80 percent of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. The agency’s Office of Extramural Research (OER) provides the infrastructure to make this happen, whether it is through developing policies and procedures or providing electronic systems, among other things, for extramural staff across NIH’s 27 institutes, centers, and offices and “for more than 166,000 external users in 24,000 research institutions worldwide.”

OER recently released its 2013-2014 report. OER director Sally Rockey notes that the report looks back at 2013 and 2014 and includes examples of the impact OER has had on “ensuring scientific program and research integrity; facilitating the grants application and award processes through continued advances of electronic systems; and improving open communication, collaboration, and transparency across NIH, the federal government, and the extramural research community.” Copies of the report are available here.

In addition, NIH has sponsored an ongoing evaluation of peer review since the introduction of the Enhancing Peer Review changes. In a recent blog post, Rockey encouraged the scientific community to respond to OER’s surveys regarding the peer review process, noting that OER devotes a considerable amount of effort to evaluating grants policies and practices.

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NIH Releases Alzheimer’s Disease Bypass Budget Proposal for FY 2017

On July 27, National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins released the first Professional Judgement Budget, also known as the Bypass Budget, for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias, Bypass Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2017—Reaching for a Cure: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Research at NIH. The bypass budget was mandated by Congress in the National Alzheimer’s Project Act enacted in 2011 (P.L. 111-375).

The fiscal year (FY) 2017 bypass budget outlines the “optimal approach NIH would take in an ideal world unconstrained by fiscal limitations.” It concludes that NIH could “significantly accelerate progress against Alzheimer’s disease with an additional investment of $323 million in FY 2017 above the agency’s base appropriation.” The NIH will update the plan through FY 2025, the target date set by the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease for developing effective modes of treatment and prevention. (more…)

AAAS Calls for Nominations for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award

Nominations are being sought for the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award. The award recognizes scientists, engineers, or associations who have acted to foster scientific freedom and responsibility, for example, “acting to protect the public’s health, safety or welfare; focusing public attention on important potential impacts of science and technology on society by their responsible participation in public policy debates; or establishing important new precedents in carrying out the social responsibilities or in defending the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.” Nominations are due by September 1, 2015.

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DBASSE Seeks Science Education Program Officer

The Board on Science Education (BOSE) within the National Academies’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) is accepting applications for a Program Officer. The Program Officer “will be responsible for managing programs or projects and is responsible for developing project strategies and ensuring projects meet their stated objectives. He/she will serve as the liaison between expert committee members, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and other applicable parties and will supervise staff.” More information and application instructions are available here.

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AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellows to Host Live Chat

On August 20, Science and Technology Policy Fellows from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will host a live chat session to answer questions about the fellowship. The session is geared in particular towards those with backgrounds in the social sciences who want to learn more. More details and a link to watch are available on the AAAS website.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • NCHS/CDC: Research and Methods in Health Statistics (RFA-SH-16-001)
  • NIMHD:  NIMHD Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention (U54)(RFA-MD-15-014)
  • NICHD:  Biomedical and Behavioral Research Innovations to Ensure Equity (BRITE) in Maternal and Child Health (R15) (PAR-15-319)
  • NIMH:  Pilot Services Research Grants Not Involving Interventions (R34) (PAR-15-323)
  • NIH:  BRAIN: Theories, Models and Methods for Analysis of Complex Data from the Brain (R01) (RFA-EB-15-006) (NBIB, NCCIH, NEI, NIA, NIAAA, NICHD, NIDA,  NIDCD, NIMH, NINDS, OBSSR, ORWH)

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Congressional Briefing Explores the Impact of Education on Mortality

On July 27, the Population Association of America (PAA) held a congressional briefing, “Live Long and Prosper: The Impact of Education on Mortality,” which focused on the federal investments in longitudinal demographic research that have allowed researchers to identify and measure how educational attainment affects important life factors, including long-term health and mortality. COSSA joined PAA, a COSSA Governing Member, along with several other COSSA member organizations in sponsoring the briefing.

Sharing the latest findings with a standing-room-only audience, the panel of distinguished researchers included Robert M. Kaplan, Agency for Health Care Research and Quality and former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR); Jennifer Karas Montez, Syracuse University; Ray K. Masters, University of Colorado at Boulder; and Vida Maralani, Yale University. (more…)

CASBS Is Accepting Applications for Its 2016-2017 Residential Fellowship

Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) is currently accepting applications for residential fellowships for the 2016-17 academic year. The CASBS fellowship is designed to provide an opportunity for scholars to pursue innovative research and expand their horizons while engaging in a diverse, interdisciplinary community. A CASBS fellowship has been considered a career milestone for any scholar, and most recipients report that the year had a transformative effect on their work.

Online applications will be accepted at the Center’s website through November 6, 2015, for the 2016-2017 fellowship year. For more information, guidelines, and application requirements, visit CASBS’ website.

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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

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