Executive Branch News

NSF Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

On November 14, Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The agreement is intended to foster a collaborative research partnership between the United States and Canada on various subjects including artificial intelligence (AI), healthcare, climate change, and more, through building on current projects and developing new opportunities. Some of these current projects include the NSF-led Global Centers, the NSERC-NSF AI/Quantum Lead Agency Opportunity, and the Canadian-led New Frontiers in Research Fund. Stay tuned to COSSA for continued coverage. 

Biden Administration Appoints New NCI Director

On November 17, the Biden Administration announced intent to appoint Dr. W. Kimryn Rathmell as Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The position was previously held by Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, the recently confirmed Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (see previous COSSA coverage). Dr. Rathmell currently serves as the Physician-in-Chief and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She received her PhD in biophysics and her M.D. from Stanford University following a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry from the University of Iowa. Dr. Rathmell also served as an internal medicine resident, fellow…

OSTP to Address Climate Change and Environmental Injustice as Social Determinants of Health

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released The U.S. Playbook to Address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) to address social and environmental impacts on public health. The Biden Administration recognizes that addressing public health needs requires a multidisciplinary approach and has expressed their commitment to doing so. SDOH addresses important issues such as housing and food security, education access, and a healthy environment. It recognizes three pillars as a starting point for addressing these topics, including improving data collection in health care, public health, social care services, and other data systems, providing funding to address social needs, and…

White House Announces Initiative on Women’s Health Research

On November 13, the White House and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden announced a new initiative to advance women’s health research, recognizing gaps in funding for this research as a barrier to accessible healthcare for women. The Initiative on Women’s Health Research will be led by Dr. Biden and newly appointed Chair Dr. Carolyn Mazure, a previous National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellow and researcher at Yale University. Dr. Biden highlighted the importance of the new initiative, stating that “there’s just not enough research yet on how to best manage and treat even common women’s health conditions…Our new White House Initiative on…

Monica Bertagnolli Confirmed as NIH Director

On November 7, Dr. Monica Bertagnolli was confirmed by the Senate as the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director in a bipartisan 62-36 vote after having been nominated by the Biden Administration in May and experiencing several deterrents from Senators, including Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who requested Bertagnolli address pharmaceutical drug prices (see previous COSSA coverage). Despite her challenging confirmation process, Bertagnolli will be the 17th Director of the NIH following a two-year gap in leadership with Dr. Lawrence Tabak as Acting Director (see previous COSSA coverage). Following her confirmation, Bertagnolli stated, “As…

OMB Seeks Public Comment on AI Governance Memorandum

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced an open call for public comment on draft memorandum “Advancing Governance, Innovation, and Risk Management for Agency Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).” This initiative seeks to establish new requirements for federal agencies in AI governance, innovation, and risk management. The proposed memorandum is designed to direct agencies towards adopting specific minimum risk management practices, particularly for AI applications that could impact public safety and individual rights. OMB encourages feedback on various aspects, such as recommending roles and responsibilities for Chief AI Officers across federal agencies, effective coordination methods for AI Governance Bodies,…

Special Assistant Appointed to the NSF Director for Sexual Assault and Harassment Prevention and Response Implementation

On November 2, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the appointment of RenĂ©e V. Ferranti as the special assistant to the NSF director for sexual assault and harassment prevention and response implementation. In this new role, Ferranti will lead cross-agency efforts, implement sexual assault prevention policies, and recommend organizational improvements by providing expert evaluation of existing policies, procedures, and resources. Establishing this role is the most recent measure in the agency’s ongoing initiatives to address and prevent sexual assault and harassment (see previous COSSA coverage). Ferranti has over 25 years of experience in sexual assault prevention and response. She previously served as the director of…

President Biden Issues Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

On October 10, President Biden unveiled a groundbreaking Executive Order (EO), setting the stage for the United States to lead in harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while effectively managing its risks. This EO builds upon existing commitments from 15 major companies, showcasing a united front in the pursuit of safe and trustworthy AI development that addresses 8 critical areas: This EO represents a significant stride toward ensuring that AI development and use are safe, secure, and beneficial for all Americans. It addresses critical aspects ranging from safety and security to privacy, equity, and leadership on both domestic and international fronts….

NIH Director Nomination Progresses

On October 25, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) voted to advance Dr. Monica Bertagnolli’s confirmation as the next Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (see previous COSSA coverage). Six Senators voted against her confirmation, including the Chair of the HELP Committee Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), citing concerns about rising drug prices in the United States. If confirmed, Bertagnolli will replace the current Acting Director, Dr. Lawrence Tabak, who has been serving since the departure of Francis Collins in 2021. During her nomination hearing, Bertagnolli spoke of the importance of the social and behavioral sciences stating,…

NIH Releases RFI on Draft Scientific Integrity Policy 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a request for information (RFI) on the draft of their new Scientific Integrity Policy. This policy is in response to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) memorandum requiring federal agencies to develop scientific integrity policies to restore trust in science (see previous COSSA coverage). NIH expects the policy to ensure that research is trustworthy and available to the public, and that their policies and programs are transparent, and evidence based. The draft policy changes include a new definition of scientific integrity; roles and responsibilities of the new positions NIH Chief Scientist and NIH…

HHS Requests Comments on Revision of Research Misconduct Policies 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a request for information (RFI) on a proposed revision of the Public Health Service (PHS) Policies on Research Misconduct within the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH). This policy has not been updated since its creation in 2005 and HHS expects to update the policy to clarify confidentiality requirements and revise definitions of various terms that were not previously defined in the original policy. Comments are requested by December 5 and can be submitted here.  

OBSSR Launches Two Funding Opportunities focused on Intimate Partner Violence Research

On October 4, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) announced two Implementing a Maternal Health and Pregnancy Outcomes Visions for Everyone (IMPROVE) initiative funding opportunities focused on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) research. NIH launched the IMPROVE initiative in 2019 to support research that aims to minimize preventable causes of maternal mortality and improve maternal health outcomes. Within this initiative, the Career Enhancement Award to Advance the Study of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the Context of Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Research invites experienced researchers in maternal morbidity and mortality to enhance their skills and knowledge in…

NSF Press Conference: A Stride Towards Pandemic Prediction and Prevention

In an upcoming press conference, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is set to unveil the Phase II Centers Program of the Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention (PIPP) initiative, marking a significant stride towards understanding, predicting, and preventing infectious disease pandemics. This event will provide an overview of the PIPP Phase II Centers Program, discuss the roles of NSF Directorates, and highlight the necessity of broad expertise and collaboration across various research communities. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with NSF representatives, ask questions, and gain a deeper understanding of the community’s collective role in transforming society’s ability to forecast, detect, and…

Biden Administration Designates Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs Program

On October 23, President Biden announced the designation of the inaugural 31 Tech Hubs program, as well as recipients of 29 Tech Hubs Strategy Development Grants. As part of the CHIPS and Science Act (see previous COSSA coverage), this program aims to establish and support regional innovation centers, fostering growth and technological advancement across various regions. Each hub will utilize the unique strengths of its community and regional industry to build and scale their respective Innovation and Technology Hub. Additionally, numerous organizations throughout the country will receive Strategy Development Grants to strengthen their capabilities, with potential for future hub designation. The program represents a comprehensive…

Office of Evaluation Sciences is Seeking a Division Director

The Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) continues to expand their team. As previously reported by COSSA, the OES is the recently established evaluations team within the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). Recently, the job posting for a Division Director has gone live and is officially taking applications through November 3. Learn more about the position and application requirements here. Any potential applicants for future OES positions should prepare a USAJOBS profile and continue to monitor the OES opportunities page and the OES LinkedIn profile page for announcements. 

IES Requests Comments on Topics for New Program “From Seedlings to Scale”

The National Center for Education Research (NCER), a center within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), released a request for information (RFI) seeking potential topics for the agency’s new program “From Seedlings to Scale” (S2S) within the recently developed Accelerate, Transform, and Scale (ATS) initiative. ATS is intended to produce high-risk, high-reward education research in response to FY 2023 appropriation language. S2S is intended to support research, product development, and sustainability and scaling in the education marketplace. The RFI’s list of questions can be found here. Comments are due November 13 and should be submitted here. 

Senator Bill Cassidy Requests Comments on Reforming the NIH

On September 29, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) released a request for information (RFI) seeking ways to reform the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Senator Cassidy is the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. According to Cassidy, the RFI is intended to gain insight on ways to increase the pace of science and better organize the NIH, including ways to improve the federal research grant application process and improve collaboration and transparency within both academia and federal agencies. A detailed list of the questions asked can be found here. Comments are due October 27 and should be sent to NIHModernization@help.senate.gov. 

White House Announces the Establishment of Office of Gun Violence Prevention

On September 22, the Biden Administration announced the establishment of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. The office is expected to accelerate executive action and prioritize legislation that reduces gun violence in the United States. During the announcement, the Biden Administration stressed the importance of confronting the issue in a timely manner, highlighting the administration’s ongoing efforts to expand gun violence prevention, including the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in 2022. The priorities of the office include: For more information on how social science research can be used to create evidence-based policy for gun violence prevention, visit COSSA’s blog, â€śWhy Social…

ARPA-H Announces New Program ARPANET-H

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new nationwide health network, ARPANET-H. Within ARPANET-H, three research hubs have been developed, including the Customer Experience hub, the Investor Catalyst hub, and the Stakeholder and Operations hub. Notably, the Customer Service hub priorities include developing accessible health solutions and diversifying health solutions. The Investor Catalyst hub priorities include transforming innovative ideas into tangible solutions and the Stakeholder and Operations hub will focus on agency and stakeholder partnerships. Stay tuned to COSSA’s continued coverage of ARPA-H. 

BJS Celebrates 50 Years of National Crime and Victimization Survey

On September 27, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) within the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) hosted a public seminar celebrating 50 years of the National Crime and Victimization Survey (NCVS). The survey is the only crime and victimization survey in the United States that addresses underreported crime through survey collection rather than police reporting. The NCVS is used to understand crime patterns and the impact of that crime in different households, recognizing victims that may have been indirectly affected by the crime. The seminar included panels that discussed the past, present, and future of the NCVS, including…

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