Issue 02 (January 24)


HOT TOPIC: HHS Announces Final Changes to Human Subjects Research Regulations

During the final days of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the final text for its changes to the Common Rule, the regulations that govern research with human subjects, completing a revision process started in 2011. The Common Rule, which was last updated in 1991, affects research supported by 16 federal departments and agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Defense, Education, Commerce, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the National Science Foundation.

Overall, the changes look to be a positive development for the social and behavioral science research community. According to the executive summary, “The final rule is designed to more thoroughly address the broader types of research conducted or otherwise supported by all of the Common Rule departments and agencies such as behavioral and social science research.” The rule maintains several proposals from the earlier Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that aimed to reduce the oversight burden on researchers conducting studies that pose no or minimal risk to participants (like a lot of social and behavioral science research). It also declines to adopt several provisions that were controversial in the biomedical research community (although supported by some in the social sciences), including consent requirements surrounding work with de-identified biospecimens, which is likely to lead to a less contentious reception overall.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the changes.

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Introducing Why Social Science

why-social-scienceWe are excited to launch a new blog series we are calling Why Social Science? Through it, we will tell stories showcasing the impact the social sciences have on our lives. We will feature diverse voices, all with important perspectives on why social science is important. You will hear from researchers, government officials, industry, and a variety of stakeholders who depend on reliable social science research findings. Check out our first issue, and subscribe here.

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Early Bird Registration Extended for COSSA Science Policy Conference

COSSA has extended early bird registration for the 2017 Science Policy Conference & Social Science Advocacy Day until January 31! Take advantage of this discount AND your member discount code (below) to get the lowest available registration rate. Register before rates increase on February 1!

Confirmed speakers include John Sides of the Washington Post’s popular Monkey Cage blog, who will speak about how to bring social science findings to the masses. Planned sessions also include panels on advocating for social science from home, tips for communicating with the media, and social science student organizing on campus, among other topics. Stay tuned as additional speakers are confirmed.

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Confirmation Hearings Continue for Trump Cabinet Nominees

The first three weeks of the 115th Congress has been busy as the Senate begins the process of confirming President Trump’s cabinet nominees. Hearings this week included South Carolina Congressman and nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney and Georgia Congressman and nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (which includes the National Institutes of Health), Tom Price. The committee vote on Betsy DeVos, billionaire philanthropist and nominee for Secretary of Education has been delayed as Senators continue their vetting process.

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NIH Director to Stay with Trump Administration—For Now

On January 19, the last day of the Obama Administration, Science and other media outlets reported that National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins will continue as the agency’s director for the foreseeable future. As previously reported, in December, the Republican leadership of the committees with jurisdiction over the NIH sent a letter to the Trump transition team endorsing his retention as the NIH’s director. Had he not been asked to stay, Collins’ resignation would have automatically taken effect on January 20. It remains unclear, however, if Collins is among the 50 Obama Administration officials reportedly asked to continue in their positions as part of the Trump Administration for the time being.

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OBSSR Director Discusses Implications of the New NIH Clinical Trials Policies for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

In September 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a new NIH policy that requires the submission of grant applications requesting support for clinical trials in response to clinical trial-specific funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). According to the NIH, the purpose of the new is policy is to improve the NIH’s “ability to identify proposed clinical trials, ensure that key pieces of trial-specific information are submitted with each application, and uniformly apply trial-specific review criteria.” The new policy goes into effect September 27, 2017. Subsequently, all applications must be submitted in response to a clinical trial-specific FOA. Any applications not directed to a non-clinical trial FOA will be returned without review.

In an October 16 blog post, NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) Director Bill Riley noted that “although these policies and efforts were developed primarily with the traditional biomedical clinical trial in mind, they are applicable to social and behavioral trials as well.” Riley’s blog post is designed to assist the social and behavioral community in adhering to the policies and “highlight OBSSR’s efforts to make these policies and efforts fit better with the typical social or behavioral intervention trial.” In addition, NIH Director Francis Collins et al. authored a Viewpoint Essay describing the new policy in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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Nancy Rodriguez Leaves National Institute of Justice

After serving as Director of the National Institute of Justice since February 2015, Dr. Nancy Rodriguez announced her departure from the agency on January 13. In her farewell message, Director Rodriguez highlighted a path forward for the agency’s research objectives and called for continued multidisciplinary collaboration. The National Institute of Justice is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. Former Deputy Director Howard Spivak will serve as the Acting Director until a presidential appointment has been made.

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2017 Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Paper Awards: Call for Papers

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) has issued a call for papers/articles for its Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Paper Awards. The Paper Awards was launched in 2016.This year’s ceremony scheduled for May 5 is the 10th anniversary of Matilda White Riley Day, which commemorates Matilda White Riley’s contributions to the NIH and to behavioral and social sciences research. Awards will be presented on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The deadline for submission is February 1, 2017. Awardees will be notified March 8, 2017. For more information, including on past recipients, see the OBSSR’s website.

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NAM Releases Report: Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice’s Committee on Community-Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States recently released a report, Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity, which reviews the “state of health disparities and explores the underlying conditions and root causes that contribute to health inequity.” Highlighting the need for additional research, among the report’s recommendations is a call on the funders of research (government, foundations, and higher education) to “support research on (a) health disparities that examines the multiple effects of structural racism (e.g., segregation) and implicit and explicit bias across different categories of marginalized status on health and health care delivery; and (b) effective strategies to reduce and mitigate the effects of explicit and implicit bias.” The Committee’s recommendations also called for the convening of multidisciplinary teams that include non-academics to “(a) understand the cognitive and effective processes of implicit bias and (b) test interventions that disrupt and change those processes towards sustainable solutions.”

Key recommendations from the report will be highlighted at a January 25 public meeting as part of NAM’s Culture of Health program. That meeting will also address “health equity across settings, how health equity crosses boundaries, and how structural inequities shape the experience and development of young children.” A call to action and next steps will be discussed as well. Additional information is available here.

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Deadline Extended: Call for White Papers: Social and Behavioral Science for National Security

The Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is leading a decadal survey to identify opportunities for the social and behavioral sciences to contribute to the analytic responsibilities of the intelligence community. This survey, sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, includes two separate calls for white papers. The deadline for the current call has been extended to February 15, 2017. This call is seeking input from academics and researchers in the social and behavioral sciences with experience in intelligence and/or insight into the needs and challenges of the intelligence community with respect to the use of social and behavioral science research. Complete instructions can be found here.

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Community Launches the Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events

The framework for an informal public-private partnership, involving a wide array of partner-stakeholders focused on reducing societal harm from extreme environmental events, was announced today, Jan. 24, 2017, during the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Seattle, Washington.

Known as The Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events, this community-initiated and community-governed framework will bring together a broad group of collaborators– including researchers, operational practitioners, federal agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, non-profit organizations, philanthropists and entrepreneurs – to improve holistic understanding, prediction of and response to severe and hazardous weather. In addition, the Alliance will facilitate interdisciplinary research, and its associated transition to practice, in ways that advance the community’s collective agenda.

The Alliance was crafted in response to multiple community recommendations, particularly those made in response to several community workshops focused on integrating meteorology with social and behavioral sciences. The guiding plan for the Alliance was developed as a community-wide activity led by a “writing team,” drawn from the international community of researchers and practitioners across a diverse array of disciplines. A volunteer steering committee will oversee the Alliance, and a small paid professional staff will provide day-to-day management.

“The strength of the Alliance lies in its philosophy of serving as an organizing mechanism to bring sectors, organizations and individuals together to work in an integrative fashion; in its emphasis on rapidly translating outcomes into operational practice, in its community-based governance, and in its emphasis on supporting activities that provide practical benefits for addressing needs that heretofore have gone unmet,” explained Kelvin Droegemeier, Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma and one of the Alliance organizers.

The Alliance is being initiated by a $3 million private gift from ImpactWX, a private social impact fund based in Toronto, Canada, with the expectation that the Alliance will obtain additional, long-term funding from a wide array of sources for a true multi-sector partnership.

More details can be found at the Alliance web site:

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • NCI/NBIB: NCI Perception and Cognition Research to Inform Cancer Image Interpretation (R21) (PAR-17-124), (R01) (PAR-17-125)
  • NCI: Reducing Overscreening for Breast, Cervical, and Colorectal Cancers among Older Adults (R21) (PA-17-109), (R01) (PA-17-110)
  • NIA: Development of Socially-Assistive Robots (SARs) to Engage Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and AD-Related Dementias (ADRD), and their Caregivers (R41/R42) (PAR-17-107), (R43/R44) (PAR-17-108)
  • NIA: Juvenile Protective Factors and Their Effects on Aging (R01) (PAR-17-126), (R03) (PAR-17-127)
  • NIDA/NIAAA: Basic Mechanisms of Brain Development Mediating Substance Use and Dependence (R01) (PA-17-119)
  • NIDA: Neuroscience Research on Drug Abuse (R01) (PA-17-111), (R21) (PA-17-112)
  • NIDA: NIDA Core “Center of Excellence” Grant Program (P30) (PAR-17-121)
  • NIH: Notice of Change to Funding Opportunity Announcement PA-17-098 “Administrative Supplements for Research on Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Populations (Admin Supp)” (NOT-OD-17-036)
  • NIMH: Strengthening the HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Care Continuum through Behavioral, Social, and Implementation Science (R21) (PA-17-103), (R01) (PA-17-104)
  • NIMH: Targeted basic behavioral and social science and intervention development for HIV prevention and care (R21) (PA-17-105), (R01) (PA-17-106)
  • NIMHD/NIAAA/NIDA: Health Services Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01) (PAR-16-221), (R21) (PAR-16-222)
  • NINDS: NINDS Exploratory Clinical Trials (R01) (PAR-17-122)
  • NINDS: Research Program Award (R35) (RFA-NS-17-020)
  • NINR/NIDCD: Reducing Health Disparities Among Minority and Underserved Children (R21) (PA-17-117), (R01) (PA-17-118)
  • NINR: Chronic Condition Self-Management in Children and Adolescents (R21) (PA-17-116), (R01) (PA-17-115)

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Events Calendar

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA events page. 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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