Issue 21 (November 1)


2016 Presidential Candidates’ Science Policy Platforms

Over the last year and a half, presidential candidates have provided hints as to what their science policy priorities would be if they were to win.

Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released details of her “Initiative on Technology and Innovation”, which includes commitments to grow the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the research budgets at the Department of Energy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). While Secretary Clinton’s published positions related to science primarily focus on computer science and technology, in response to a questionnaire from the Scientific American, Secretary Clinton expanded her position on basic research, saying “I believe it is essential that we strengthen our research capacity, by funding talented young investigators, looking for ways to prioritize ‘high-risk, high-reward’ projects that have the potential to transform entire fields.”

Businessman and Republican nominee Donald Trump has not published any specific policy recommendations related to science, but included in his answer to the Scientific American questionnaire that scientific advances, including a viable space program, require long-term investment and stakeholder input. Other public statements, including about the National Institutes Health, have been less flattering.

Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson also provided responses to the Scientific American. Stein believes that most government-supported scientific efforts should be related to combating climate change. Alternatively, Johnson believes that the government should focus on funding basic research rather than advanced or applied research.

More analysis can be found in the Scientific American and Science Magazine.

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COSSA and Coalitions Urge Strong Funding for SBS in Final FY 2017 Funding Negotiations

In preparation for Congress’ return to Washington after the election, several of the coalitions COSSA works through have sent letters to appropriators urging them to pass funding bills rather than a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2017 and to encourage them to preserve funding for the agencies that support social and behavioral science (SBS), including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Senate letter, House letter), the National Center for Health Statistics (Senate letter, House letter), the Census Bureau (Senate letter, House letter), and the Institute of Education Sciences.

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Inaugural NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival — December 2, 2016

On December 2, 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) will hold an inaugural NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. Intended to become an annual event, the festival “will highlight recently funded contributions of behavioral and social science to health research.” It will also “explore new directions for health-related behavioral and social science research.” The event is tailored to build the “understanding and capacity to implement transformative behavioral and system interventions that lead to sustainable improvements in health and well-being.” The festival agenda and additional information is available on OBSSR’s website.

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IES Seeks Comments on NCER-NPSAS Grants

The National Center for Education Research (NCER) within the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is proposing a new information collection as part of an ongoing collaboration between NCER and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—also located within IES—and is seeking comments. The NCER supports research projects using subsamples of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), a nationally-representative sample of postsecondary institutions and students fielded every three to four years. The goal for the proposed new collection is to facilitate “one-off” research projects. The Department is specifically interested in comments addressing the following questions: “(1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) Will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) Is the estimated burden accurate; (4) How might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) How might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on respondents, including through the use of information technology.” Comments are due December 19, 2016.

Additionally, NCER is seeking comments on the collection of data to conduct the study Connecting Students 2017: Testing the Effectiveness of FAFSA Intervention on College Outcomes, which is designed to “measure the effectiveness of an intervention that will provide financial aid information and reminders to college students who were initially interviewed as part of NPSAS.” Comments are due December 19, 2016.

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NASS Advisory Committee Accepting Nominations

The Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics, which is the advisory body to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), is accepting nominations. The Committee advises the Secretary of Agriculture and NASS leadership on issues that may affect NASS’ agriculture surveys and products. Members represent a broad range of disciplines and stakeholder communities including “producers, representatives of national farm organizations, agricultural economists, rural sociologists, farm policy analysts, educators, State agriculture representatives, and agriculture-related business and marketing experts.” Nominations are due by November 30. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program Renamed “All of Us” Research Program

On October 12, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program has been renamed the All of Us Research Program. The name change, according to the announcement, reflects the study’s core values, which include “participation is open to all; participants reflect the rich diversity of the U.S.; participants are partners; participants have access to their information; data will be accessed broadly for research purposes; security and privacy will be of highest priority; and the program will be a catalyst for positive change in research.” The program’s name change also incorporates the feedback NIH received via its community engagement events and one-on-one outreach activities, particularly the response it received around the use of the word “cohort.” In addition to changing the study’s name, All of Us launched an online form designed to gather input.

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NIH Releases Five-Year Rehabilitation Research Plan

After two years of planning and soliciting public input, the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the NIH Research Plan on Rehabilitation. The government-wide plan, coordinated by NCMRR, addresses the need for rehabilitation research; NIH’s investment in rehabilitation research; current medical rehabilitation research activities at NIH; opportunities, needs, and priorities; and NIH’s coordination with other federal agencies. Seventeen NIH institutes and centers support rehabilitation research, and the plan “calls for the continuation of programs to understand the basic biological, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms that underlie disability.” Additionally, the new plan recognizes the emerging approach of precision medicine for disease treatment, prevention, and health disparities as an area for consideration.

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NIH Seeks Information on Research Supplement to Promote Workforce Diversity in Small Business

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is soliciting input on a “proposed new supplement to facilitate participation of women and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in small businesses” through the congressionally-mandated Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The request for information (RFI), Research Supplement to Promote Workforce Diversity in Small Businesses (NOT-OD-17-008), notes that although SBIR/STTR awardees are eligible to apply for diversity supplements, the participation rates in the program are very low. Accordingly, the agency is seeking input to understand the barriers preventing these populations from participating in the “existing diversity supplement program and to inform its consideration in developing a new diversity supplement program specific to SBIR/STTR mechanisms.” Responses to the RFI are due December 16, 2016.

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NINDS to Hold Informational Webinars on Diversity Career Development Awards

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is supporting a series of webinars for potential applicants and mentors to its Mentored Career Development Awards to Promote Diversity in Neuroscience (PAR-16-220 and PAR-16-219). The Institute’s Faculty Development Award to Promote Diversity in Neuroscience Research is designed to provide “an intensive, supervised career development and scientific mentoring experience for promising junior investigators… from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research.” The award also provides protected time from teaching and other duties in addition to providing resources intended to hone awardees’ skills in grant writing and publication of high impact research. Similarly, the NINDS Advanced Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity in Neuroscience Research (K22) is designed “to support talented advanced postdoctoral investigators from backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience research during their transition to independent research positions.” The webinars, which are optional, are intended to provide guidance to potential applicants. The initial webinar, What You Need to Know About the NINDS Diversity Career Development K22 Award: Tips for Preparing Your Application, is scheduled for December 13. A second webinar, What You Need to Know About the NINDS Diversity Faculty Development K01 Award: Tips for Preparing Your Application, is anticipated in March 2017. For more information, see the notice (NOT-NS-17-007).

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O’Connell Named Next DBASSE Director

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine has announced that it has named Mary Ellen O’Connell as Executive Director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE), effective November 14. O’Connell is currently serving as DBASSE’s Deputy Director and will succeed Robert Hauser, who is retiring. In addition to serving in leadership roles on several Academies Boards, including the Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS); the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS); and the Board on Human-Systems Integration (BOHSI), O’Connell also led initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Social and Behavioral Scientists Among New National Academy of Medicine Inductees

The National Academy of Medicine announced the election of 79 new members, including 70 regular members and nine international members. The newly elected cohort includes several members who work in the social and behavioral sciences. They include Anita Allen, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania; Cheryl Ann Marie Anderson, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health, at the University of California, San Diego; Peter Brian Bach, Director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Laura L. Carstensen, Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor in Public Policy, Professor of Psychology, and Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity at Stanford University; Martin Gaynor, E.J. Barone Professor of Economics and Health Policy at Carnegie Mellon University; Maureen Lichtveld, Professor and Chair of the Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences at Tulane University; Bernice A. Pescosolido, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, Bloomington; and Prabhat Jha, Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at the University of Toronto.

COSSA congratulates all of the newly elected members of the Academy.

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Friends of NCHS-Sponsored Blog Post Explains Proposed NHIS Changes

In a blog post sponsored by the Friends of NCHS (of which COSSA is a member), Renee Gindi, health survey statistician with the Division of Health Interview Statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), provides a detailed, plain-language summary of the proposed changes to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). One of NCHS’ hallmark surveys, the NHIS produces critical data on the health of the American public through detailed in-home interviews with respondents. The survey is scheduled to be redesigned for 2018. In her post, “Taking a Closer Look: The 2018 National Health Interview Survey Redesign,” Gindi explains the reasons for redesigning the survey—improving quality and relevance, reducing cost, and limiting the burden on respondents—and NCHS’ plans for the redesigned survey content and structure. She also shares some of the main themes of the feedback NCHS has received thus far. Comments are still being accepted on the specific phrasing of the survey questions, for both the adult and child questionnaires. Feedback is due November 7, 2016. Detailed information on the survey redesign, the proposed questionnaire text, and how to submit comments is available on the NCHS website.

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NRMN Seeking Applicants for Grant Proposal Writing & Professional Development Coaching Groups

The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) recently announced a new “R01 Resubmission” Grant Proposal Writing Coaching Group, designed for individuals who are resubmitting an R01 (investigator-initiated) grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the spring and summer of 2017. A “nationwide consortium of biomedical professionals and institutions collaborating to provide all trainees across the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences with evidence-based mentorship and professional development programming that emphasizes the benefits and challenges of diversity, inclusivity and culture within mentoring relationships, and more broadly the research workforce,” NRMN’s specific goal is to enhance the diversity of the NIH-funded research workforce. NRMN, along with the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) program and the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) make up the integrated platforms of the NIH Diversity Program Consortium. Applications are being accepted through November 16.

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Alan Krueger Wins 2017 Moynihan Prize

The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), a COSSA member, announced economist Alan Kruger as the winner of the 2017 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize. Kruger is a professor at Princeton University and served as Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors from 2011 to 2013. Kruger also served as the Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economic at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. The Moynihan Prize was established in 2007 to “recognize social scientists, public officials, and civic leaders who champion the use of informed judgement to advance the public good”. Kruger will deliver a public lecture and formally receive his award at a ceremony on Capitol Hill on May 18, 2017.

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AAPSS Discussion Predicts Middle East Challenges for the Next Administration

On October 24, the Middle East Institute (MEI) and the American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), a member of COSSA, held a panel discussion to highlight the November 2016 volume of The ANNALS, the flagship AAPSS publication. The November volume, “The Middle East and Regional Transition, Terrorism, and Countering Violent Extremism: What the Next President Will Face,” analyzes the state of U.S. relations in the Middle East and provides concrete policy recommendations and priorities for the next president and administration. The ANNALS’s guest co-editors Rand Beers (former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor to President Obama), Richard A. Clarke (former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection), Emilian Papadopoulos (President, Good Harbor Security Risk Management), and Paul Salem (Vice President for Policy and Research, MEI) discussed these issues and how the next president can address them. National Security Correspondent Mary Louise Kelly (NPR) moderated the panel.

The November 2016 volume of The ANNALS is organized into two sections, the first focusing on “the drivers of instability and radicalization in the Middle East and ways to counter them,” and the second on countering violent extremism domestically and internationally. During the discussion, panelists pointed out the increase in the number of failed states in the Middle East over the past eight years, from three or four in 2008 to approximately six or seven now. The panelists discussed how the evolution of terrorism and rise of terrorist groups like ISIS has created a need for the U.S. to change its strategy in how it confronts violent extremism. The panelists also discussed potential hot spots for the U.S. in the Middle East over the next several years and shared some of the recommendations for the next administration from The ANNALS volume.

More information and the full presentation are available here.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s fall intern, Zykkia Webb of Texas A&M University.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • AHRQ: Notice of Intent to Publish Funding Opportunity Announcements to Promote Implementation Science (R01) and Dissemination and Implementation Studies (R18) (NOT-HS-17-002)
  • AHRQ: Large Health Services Research Demonstration and Dissemination Projects for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections (R18) (PA-17-007)
  • AHRQ: Large Research Projects for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections (R01) (PA-17-008)
  • NIFA: Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (USDA-NIFA-ICGP-006124)



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