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COSSA Washington Update, Volume 35 Issue 23

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COSSA in Action

Congressional News

Federal Agency & Administration News

Publications & Community Events

Funding Opportunity Announcements

COSSA Member Spotlight

Events Calendar

Editor’s Note: Update Returns January 10

Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

COSSA Releases 2017 Rankings of Social and Behavioral Science Funding at Colleges and Universities

COSSA recently released its 2017 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral Science R&D, which highlights the top university recipients of research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. Nine of this year’s top 10 recipients of federal funding in the social and behavioral sciences are COSSA members. Based on federally collected data, the COSSA rankings use an inclusive selection of fields to calculate the total federal R&D funding received by universities in the social and behavioral sciences. The 2017 rankings reflect spending from fiscal year 2015, the most current available data. You can find more information on how COSSA produces its rankings and see how your university stacks up against more than 450 U.S. institutions on our website.

The top 10 recipients for 2017 are:

Top Recipients of Federal Social Science R&D Funding

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC) – $92,039,000
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI) – $88,373,000
  3. University of Maryland, College Park (MD) – $58,793,000
  4. University of Pennsylvania (PA) – $43,314,000
  5. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (MN) – $38,279,000
  6. Pennsylvania State University, University Park and Hershey Medical Center (PA) – $37,264,000
  7. University of Washington, Seattle (WA) – $36,876,000
  8. Florida State University (FL) – $31,382,000
  9. New York University (NY) – $30,804,000
  10. Arizona State University (AZ) – $29,812,000

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

COSSA Joins Scientific Community in Calling for President-Elect to Name a Science Advisor

In a letter to the presidential transition team, COSSA Executive Director Wendy Naus joined the leadership of 28 other leading science organization in calling for President-Elect Trump to quickly appoint a qualified Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. They urge the President-Elect to name a candidate who is “a nationally respected leader with appropriate engineering, scientific, management and policy skills.” The letter notes, “If we are to maintain America’s global leadership, and respond to the economic and security challenges currently facing the nation, we must build on our strong history of federal support for innovation, entrepreneurship and science and technology.” The full letter is available here.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

New Issue of “Setting the Record Straight on ‘Wasteful Research’”

COSSA has released the latest issue of Setting the Record Straight on “Wasteful Research” (PDF available here), a series of interviews with researchers whose work has been called out in Congressional wastebooks or other attacks. This series aims to give these scientists the chance to set the record straight about the value and potential of their work– and confront misconceptions about social science research funded by the federal government. This edition features Megan Tracy (James Madison University), whose National Science Foundation-funded study on regulations in China’s dairy industry was one of the targets of Lamar Smith’s inquiry into NSF grants in 2013 and 2014.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Congress Passes Stopgap Funding Bill, Adjourns

Congress passed another continuing resolution (CR) late in the evening on December 9, just a few hours before government funding would have run out. This stop-gap funding measure will keep the government funded until April 28, 2017. The bill, passed with the support of the incoming Trump Administration, will leave the fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations process unfinished and delay major spending decisions to the next Congress and next Administration. The text of the Continuing Resolution is available here. For full details of the FY 2017 spending debate as it pertains to social science research, check out COSSA’s coverage.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

21st Century Cures Act Becomes Law

In a display of bipartisanship, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The House overwhelmingly passed an updated version of the bill (H.R. 34) on November 30 by a vote of 392 to 26. On December 7, the Senate followed suit with its consideration of the bill and passed it by a recorded vote of 94 to 5. President Obama signed the bill on December 13. The comprehensive bill provides an infusion of funding for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve drugs and devices with greater urgency, provides resources to states to assist in fighting the opioid epidemic, and provides a boost for mental health care. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Last-Ditch Effort to Pass “COMPETES” Legislation Falls Short

In a last-minute show of bipartisanship, the Senate passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084) before adjourning for the year. However, given that the House had already effectively adjourned for the remainder of the 114th Congress, the bill will not become law this year. It may resurface early in the next Congress; however, given all of the questions surrounding the incoming Trump Administration, future consideration is not guaranteed.

Before the House adjourned, House and Senate Committees had been quietly conferencing S. 3084 with the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1806) over the last several weeks. As previously reported, the original version of the House bill aimed to pick winners and losers among the sciences supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with a hefty cut slated for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), among other challenging provisions. The Senate bill, on the other hand, was largely seen as a counterpoint to the House bill for its much more positive and forward-looking provisions. Despite the many differences between S. 3084 and H.R. 1806, negotiators were able to find common ground on a variety of science policy provisions covering topics such as the merit review process, STEM education, and administrative burden, among others. It is important to note that while the original purpose of both bills was to authorize funding for NSF for the years ahead, agreement could not be reached on overall levels and therefore negotiators elected to keep numbers out the bill. That means that NSF’s authorization is still expired (since 2013) and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee (under the leadership of Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX)) may very well introduce another NSF authorization bill in the next Congress. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

GOP Chairmen Send Letter of Support for NIH Director; Maryland Lawmaker Expresses Interest in Leading Agency

On December 2, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmen Tom Cole (R-OK) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) sent a letter to President-elect Trump’s transition team, urging the new administration to retain National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins. The chairmen state that Collins is the “right person, at the right time” to lead the NIH. They further emphasized that “under his leadership with Congress’ commitment to biomedical research as a national priority, the National Institutes of Health will thrive and continue to enhance the Nation’s health through scientific discovery and biomedical research.” Science magazine is also reporting that Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) is interested in the position. Harris currently sits on the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the NIH’s budget. Harris, an anesthesiologist, has acknowledged that the scientific community may consider him a somewhat controversial choice to lead the agency.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Healthier Lives Through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: NIH OBSSR Releases Strategic Plan for 2017-2021

obssr-sp-2017-2021_page_01On November 23, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) officially released its Strategic Plan 2017-2021. The plan focuses on the scientific priorities and fundamental research challenges that “OBSSR is uniquely positioned to address,” according to OBSSR Director William Riley. The overarching theme of the three “equally important scientific priorities identified in the plan … is to encourage a more cumulative and integrated behavioral and social science research enterprise that extends from basic science through the adoption of approaches to improve the nation’s health.”

Specifically, the three priorities are:

  1. Improve the synergy of basic and applied behavioral and social sciences research (view video).
  2. Enhance and promote the research infrastructure, methods, and measures needed to support a more cumulative and integrative approach to behavioral and social sciences research (view video).
  3. Facilitate the adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings in health research and in practice (view video).

These priorities, according to the plan, “were determined based on their potential to have the greatest impact on the largest proportion of health-related behavioral and social sciences research.” To address the priorities, OBSSR intends to depend on four foundational processes, which are “central functions consistent with the OBSSR mission that can be marshalled to meet the objectives of the scientific priorities” outlined in the plan. The four processes are communication, program coordination and integration, training, and policy and evaluation (view video).

Upon releasing the plan, Riley acknowledged that OBSSR received “excellent support for the development of this plan from NIH leadership, including the NIH Director and Deputy Director, the Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, and from NIH Institute and Center Directors.” Additionally, NIH Director Francis S. Collins and Riley authored an editorial published in Science Translational Medicine highlighting scientific and technological advances that are transforming the behavioral and social sciences. The OBSSR Strategic Plan 2017-2021 can be downloaded here.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

U.S. Surgeon General Releases Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health

On November 17, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy released the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on the substance abuse health afflicting communities. The comprehensive report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, reviews the science of substance use, misuse, and disorders, providing an in-depth look with chapters covering neurobiology, prevention, treatment, recovery, health systems integration, as well as recommendations for the future.  It also calls for a “cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the issue,” and recommends actions that can be taken to prevent and treat these conditions, as well as promote recovery. According to Murthy, substance use disorders are identified as a public health problem that requires a public health solution. The full report and executive summary are available here.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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