Issue 01 (January 12)


Second Session of 114th Congress Gavels In, Funding Debates Quick out the Gate

The House and Senate have returned to Washington for the start of the second session of the 114th Congress. As previously reported, Congress was able to come up with a final agreement on fiscal year (FY) 2016 spending before leaving for the holiday break in December. Funding for agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community was largely protected in the final bill, a positive outcome given the proposals that were floated earlier in the year.

Now attention turns to FY 2017. The President will unveil his final budget request on February 9, which will officially kick off the FY 2017 appropriations season. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) indicated in recent weeks that he would like to see the individual spending bills reach the House floor by as early as March, much earlier in the year than has been common practice. With the 2016 elections now less than 10 months away, it is hard to see Congress finding the political will to pass all 12 of the appropriations bills before Members leave Washington to hit the campaign trails in the summer and fall, especially considering that the House has scheduled only 110 working days in 2016; the Senate has 149 working days. Regardless, the next few months will be busy for advocates in Washington as Congress hurries to get as much work done as it can before the process shuts down to make way for the party conventions in July.

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COSSA and Members Comment on Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule

COSSA, in conjunction with the American Educational Research Association (AERA) (a COSSA governing association) and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, submitted comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects or the “Common Rule” (click here for context on the NPRM). Overall, the comments are supportive of the proposed changes affecting the social and behavioral sciences and urge that “major and substantial improvements… not be delayed or deferred even if it is determined that some issues require further analysis before some rule changes can be made.” The comments also points out several sections where additional clarification would be useful.

The American Psychological Association (APA), Population Association of America (PAA) (COSSA governing associations), and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) (a COSSA member), also submitted comments on the NPRM, which are available on (docket ID HHS-OPHS-2015-0008).

Now that the window for public comment has closed, the Office of Human Research Protections will review all submitted comments and release a final rule. However, if the pace of the Common Rule revision process thus far is any indication, it will likely be several months, if not longer, before we see a final rule.

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OBSSR Responds to Concerns about NIH Guidance on the Funding of Health Economics Research

In November 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued guidance Clarifying NIH’s Priorities in Health Economics. The notice was accompanied by blog post from Carrie Wolinetz, NIH Associate Director for Science Policy (see Update, December 1, 2015). In a recent blog post, NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) director William Riley responded to questions the office has received from the social and behavioral science community regarding the impetus for the NIH notice. Riley highlighted his participation in the guidance’s development and his desire to convey and assure the research community that “health economics research is alive and well at the NIH.” Accordingly, in the blog post, he emphasizes that “health economics is one of many behavioral and social science research domains central to the NIH mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.” Further, “health economics research methods and approaches offer critical insights into the societal burden of disease, the determinants of health and health-related behaviors, and new approaches to address a range of individual and population determinants of health.”

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White House SBS Team Seeks Fellows

The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST), which uses insights from the social and behavioral sciences to improve federal programs, is accepting applications for new members to serve on the team as Fellows or Associate Fellows. The one-year fellowship begins in October 2016 and is open to PhD or Masters level scientists with expertise in one or more field in the social and behavioral sciences. The deadline for applications is January 24, 2016. More information on the fellowship is available here.

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NIA Director Expresses Appreciation for NIH and NIA FY 2016 Budgets

National Institute on Aging (NIA) director Richard Hodes acknowledged “exciting news” reflected in the FY 2016 budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and specifically for NIA in a January 6 blog post. Noting the $2 billion (6.6 percent) increase for the NIH for FY 2016, Hodes underscored that the increase provided a boost of approximately 33 percent for NIA, including the $350 million in funding allocated for research on Alzheimer’s disease (see COSSA’s omnibus analysis). Notwithstanding the resources dedicated to Alzheimer’s research, NIA’s FY 2016 budget provides a 4.2 percent increase to the institute, “the largest increase to the NIA budget since 2003,” Hodes explained.

He emphasized that the FY 2016 budget will “provide an opportunity for increased support for the broad range of NIA-supported aging research.” He particularly highlighted the recent release of ten Program Announcements with Review (PARs) across the “broad spectrum of Alzheimer’s disease research” (see Update, November 3, 2015). Hodes also stressed that “While Alzheimer’s is clearly a priority in FY 2016, increased funding in FY 2016 will allow expanded support of the full spectrum of NIA’s traditional areas of emphasis, including demographic and behavioral aspects of aging; clinical aspects of aging, including management of multiple chronic conditions; and investigations into the basis of the aging process, with an emphasis on geroscience—the intersection of the aging process and the diseases that typically occur later in life.” Hodes encouraged researchers interested in aging research, including small businesses that “turn translational research into practical benefits for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers,” to anticipate the release of NIA funding opportunity announcements and outreach “over the next months.”

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NIH Discusses the Science of Self-Management

In 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Opportunity Network (OppNet) jointly convened a panel of ten experts to “discuss basic psychosocial mechanism and processes involved with self-management” of disease and other related conditions.

The science of self-management has grown exponentially over the last several decades. During this time, the NIH has provided support for clinical- and community-based interventions and programs related to the management of acute and chronic illnesses, including asthma, arthritis, diabetes, heart failure, and HIV/AIDS. In particular, the National Institute of Nursing (NINR) has led NIH’s efforts in this area. Accordingly, strides have been made in understanding how to help individuals better manage their chronic conditions. Less attention, however, has been given to examining the “internal mechanisms under the skin whether they are the psychological process, group ties, and biomarkers linked to those behaviors.” The workshop was an effort to develop a research agenda that would allow an investigation of these factors.

OppNet’s goal is to increase the amount and breadth of basic extramural research supported by NIH. The videocast of the workshop, Self, Others, and Chronic Conditions: Basic Mechanisms and Processes that Facilitate or Impede Self-Management, is available for viewing on the NIH’s website. In addition, a series of guest blog posts covering a variety of self-management topics is available on the OBSSR Connector website.

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Documenting Endangered Languages Webinar – January 19

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will hold a free webinar in January 19 to provide details on the joint NSF/NEH Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) program. The webinar is intended for researchers who are considering submitting a proposal to the program; the next deadline for DEL proposals is September 15, 2016. Registration is required for participation.

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BTS Releases 2016 Pocket Guide to Transportation

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has published its 19th annual Pocket Guide to Transportation. The 2016 Pocket Guide provides quick reference information on the transportation system and covers topics such as infrastructure, moving people and goods, performance, economy, safety, and environment.

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President Obama Proclaims January 2016 National Mentoring Month

On December 31, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring January 2016 “National Mentoring Month” to honor “all those who continuously strive to provide young people with the resources and support they need and deserve.” The proclamation announced the Administration’s recommitment to “building a society in which all mentors and mentees can thrive in mutual learning relationships.” To read the entire proclamation, go here.

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Albert Bandura to be Awarded National Medal of Science

In December, President Obama announced the recipients of the 2013 and 2014 National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honors for discoveries and advancements in science and technology. Among the 2014 recipients is Albert Bandura of Stanford University, who will receive the National Medal of Science in Behavioral and Social Science. Bandura is a social cognitive psychologist, known best for the “Bobo doll experiments,” and whose work pioneered “social learning theory,” which stresses observation, imitation and modeling as central components of learning. Bandura and the other honorees will be receive their medals at a White House ceremony on January 22.

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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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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • AHRQ: Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Child Health Quality Measurement Implementation and Development (NOT-HS-16-002)
  • IES: Low-Cost, Short Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions (CFDA 84.305L)

NIH Opportunities:

  • NIDA, NIAAA, OBSSR: Behavioral and Integrative Treatment Development Program (R01) (PA-16-072), R34 (PA-16-073), R03 (PA-16-074)
  • NIDA: Behavioral Science Track Award for Rapid Transition (B/Start)(R03) (PAR-16-071)
  • NIH: Notice of Frequently Asked Questions Posted to the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program Website (NOT-PM-16-003)
  • NIH: Notice of Additional Participation in PAR-16-052″Global Noncommunicable Diseases and Injury Across the Lifespan: Exploratory Research (R21)” [FIC, NIDA, OBSSR, NIA] (NOT-TW-16-002)
  • NIH: Administrative Supplements for Research on Sex/Gender Differences (Admin Supp) (PA-16-066) [ORWH, NCATS, NCCIH, NCI, NEI, NHGRI, NHLBI, NIA, NIAAA, NIAID, NIAMS, NBIB, NICHD, NIDA, NIDCD, NIDCR, NIDDK, NIEHS, NIGMS, NIMH, NIMHD, NINDS, NINR, ODP, DPCPSI]

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Registration now OPEN for 2016 COSSA Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day

Registration is now open for the 2016 COSSA Annual Meeting and 2nd Annual Social and Behavioral Science Advocacy Day scheduled for March 15-16, 2016. Click here to register today! Registration fees will increase in February. Individuals who work for COSSA member organizations may be eligible for a members-only registration rate. Email for details.

Visit the COSSA Annual Meeting page for full details, including discounted hotel rates for those traveling to the meeting (reservations must be made by February 15!).

The COSSA Annual Meeting brings together representatives from throughout the social and behavioral science community for a day of discussion on federal issues impacting social and behavioral science research. It provides an opportunity for COSSA members to engage directly with leaders of federal science agencies, Congressional staff, and colleagues from other associations and institutions. This year, discussions will highlight the many ways social and behavioral science research serves the national interest. Come be part of the conversation.
CONFIRMED SPEAKERS: So far, we have confirmed speakers from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, and the National Academy of Sciences, with much more in the works.

COSSA’s 2nd Annual Social and Behavioral Science Advocacy Day will take place on Wednesday, March 16. This event provides COSSA members with an opportunity to meet with their Congressional delegations to discuss the value and importance of social and behavioral science research. Representatives from all COSSA member organizations are encouraged to participate. Training and all materials will be provided to members.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016
8:00 am – 5:30 pm
2016 COSSA Annual Meeting

6:00 – 8:00 pm
Celebration of Social and Behavioral Science
(Capitol Hill Reception and Award Ceremony)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Social and Behavioral Science Advocacy Day

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