Executive Branch News

Census Releases New ACS Data, Special Feature on Young Adults

On November 4, the Census Bureau released 2009-2013 five-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS). The release includes new tables on field of bachelor’s degree, health insurance status, poverty status, and year of naturalization. In addition, a new Census Explorer feature, Young Adults: Then and Now, allows users to compare young adults (18-34) across the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses and the 2009-2013 ACS five-year estimates and track changes in demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NSF Releases Report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science

The National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) has released its biennial report, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, which provides statistical details on women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering education and employment. The data in the 2013 Digest, which is released every two years as mandated by the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act (Public Law 96-516), are publicly accessible online and organized by the following themes: enrollment, field of degree, employment status, occupation, academic employment, and persons with disabilities. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

White House Issues Report on Expanding Opportunity and Addressing Challenges Facing Women and Girls of Color

On November 13, the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG) released a report, Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity. The Council is chaired by Valerie Jarrett. The report highlights the tremendous achievements women of color have made; it also examines the inequities and “distinct” challenges facing women of color and looks at efforts underway to close the gaps in educational outcomes, pay, career opportunity, and health disparities, among other areas.

Aging and Mental Health Institutes Seek Comments on Draft Strategic Plans

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are seeking public comment on the development of the Institutes’ strategic plans. The plans will guide the Institutes’ research priorities. National Institute on Aging The NIA recently released a request for information (RFI) seeking guidance on its strategic plan, Aging Well in the 21st Century: Strategic Directions for Research on Aging. The draft plan outlines NIA’s broad strategic directions for the Institute and “provides a point of reference for setting priorities and a framework for systematically analyzing the Institute’s…

NSF’s SBE Directorate Seeks to Fill Numerous Leadership Posts

The Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking interested applicants for several leadership posts, including directors for two SBE divisions. The open positions include: Division Director, Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), closes December 12 Division Director, Social and Economic Sciences (SES), closes December 12 Program Director in the Economics Program (SES), closes December 29 In addition, NSF recently announced that Joanne Tornow, SBE Deputy Assistant Director, will leave SBE in December to lead the NSF Office of Information and Resource Management (OIRM). A search will commence for a new SBE Deputy Assistant…

Census Bureau Seeks Comment on Proposed Elimination of ACS Questions

On October 31, the U.S. Census Bureau within the Department of Commerce issued a request for public comment related to the 2014 Content Review of the American Community Survey (ACS). According to the Federal Register Notice, the 2014 review “is the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken by the Census Bureau to review content on the survey, seeking to understand which federal programs use the information collected by each question, the justification for each question, and assess how the Census Bureau might reduce respondent burden.” The review looked at the ACS’s 72 questions and proposed removal of seven from the annual…

CDC Requests Nominations for Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

The Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) is seeking nominations for new members for terms beginning in October 2015. The Board provides guidance to CDC and OPHPR leadership, conducts peer review of scientific programs, and monitors the overall strategic direction and focus of the Office. According to the notice in the Federal Register, “Nominees will be selected based on expertise in the fields relevant to the issues addressed by the divisions within the coordinating office, including: business, crisis leadership, emergency response and management, engineering,…

SACHRP Considers Consent in Low-Risk Online Studies

At its meeting on October 30, the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) heard a presentation from B.R. Simon Rosser, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, on “The Evolution of Consent in Low-Risk Studies: Lessons from Online Survey Research.” He suggested that SACHRP rethink how researchers handle informed consent for low-risk studies conducted over the internet.

NIMH Creates New Unit to Support Its Research Domain Criteria Initiative

On October 31, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) announced the creation of a new unit designed to reframe mental health research by facilitating communication among scientists, clinicians, and the public. The new unit was established to support the development of the institute’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative. According to NIMH, RDoC “attempts to bring the power of modern research approaches in genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral problems of mental illness, studied independently from the classification systems by which patients are currently grouped.” The aim is to accelerate the pace of research that translates basic science into clinical settings “by…

OHRP Solicits Comments on Draft Guidance on Risk Disclosure in Research Evaluating Standards of Care

The Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) has issued draft guidance on “Disclosing Reasonably Foreseeable Risks in Research Evaluating Standards of Care.”  As more and more comparative effectiveness research is conducted to evaluate different treatments commonly used by medical practitioners (“standards of care”), the guidance is an attempt to assist researchers in determining how to disclose potential risks of the different treatments they are studying.

NIH Makes Awards to Enhance Diversity of the Scientific Workforce

On October 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the awarding nearly $31 million in FY 2014 to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The awards are part of a five-year program and will “support more than 50 awardees and partnering institutions in establishing a national consortium to develop, implement, and evaluate approaches to encourage individuals to start and stay in biomedical research careers.” Twelve of the awards will be supported by the NIH Common Fund and all of the NIH 27 institutes and centers and will be part of three initiatives that form the Enhancing the Diversity…

Social Scientist among National Medal of Science Winners

On October 3, President Obama named the winners of the 2014 National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Among the recipients of the National Medal of Science is University of Michigan political scientist Robert Axelrod, honored for his work on the “evolution of cooperation,” which holds applications for conflict de-escalation. Dr. Axelrod will be awarded the Medal of Science at a White House ceremony later this year. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NCHS Brief Looks at Depression and Obesity

A new data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) examines the relationship between obesity and depression. It found that 43 percent of adults with depression were obese and that adults with depression were more likely to be obese, particularly women. In addition, as the severity of depression symptoms increased, so did the proportion of those with obesity. And over half of people whose symptoms were not relieved by medication were obese. The report observes, “It is not clear whether depression or obesity occurred first because they were both measured at the same time. Other studies have shown…

Public Comment Period for Healthy People 2020 Open through November 7

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting written comments regarding new objectives proposed to be added to Healthy People 2020.  The previous public comment period occurred in fall 2013.

SMRB Continues Discussion of Pre-College Engagement in Biomedical Science

During its October 14 meeting, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) continued its examination of the NIH grant review, award, and management process and its discussion of the evidence base for successful approaches for pre-college biomedical science programs designed to strengthen the biomedical workforce pipeline.

White House Hosts Conference on BRAIN Initiative

On September 30, the White House hosted a conference on President Obama’s BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative. The Initiative is a large-scale effort to provide researchers with important insights to treat a variety of disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury, among others. Four agencies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have together committed more than $110 million to the Initiative in FY 2014 (see Update, April 7, 2014, pg. 26).

NIH Council of Councils Discusses Stable Support for Investigators

At the September meeting of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils, NIH Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak provided an update of the agency’s activities, including an update on the agency’s efforts to pilot “longer-term, stable support” for NIH investigators.

NIGMS Advisory Council Approves New Grant Mechanism, Discusses Reproducibility

At the September meeting of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Advisory Council, director Jon Lorsch provided an update on a number of issues, including the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) data reproducibility efforts, the NIGMS strategic planning process, and an overview of the impacts of the previous NIH budget-doubling period “on the biomedical research ecosystem.” In addition, the Council approved the Institute’s concept clearance to create the new Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA), clearing the way for NIGMS to proceed. Reproducibility Lorsch noted that reproducibility is not a single issue but an issue of reproducibility of data,…

NIH Center for Scientific Review to Host Peer Review Webinars for New Grant Applicants

In early November, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Center for Scientific Review (CSR) plans to host four Meet the Experts in NIH Peer Review webinars designed to provide new NIH grant applicants and other interested individuals with valuable insights into the submission and review processes. CSR is NIH’s gateway for grant applications and their review for scientific merit. It organizes the peer review groups, or study sections, that evaluate the majority of the research grant applications sent to the agency. The webinars will address the various types of grant mechanisms supported by NIH: Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15), Fellowship…

NSF Seeks Nominations for Waterman Award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations until October 24 for the 2015 Alan T. Waterman Award. The Waterman Award is given annually “in recognition of the talent, creativity, and influence of a singular young researcher;” nominations are accepted for researchers from all fields of science supported by NSF. Among the requirements, candidates must be 35 years of age or younger or be not more than seven years beyond receipt of his/her Ph.D. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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