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COSSA Washington Update, Volume 33 Issue 14

In this issue…

Congressional Activities & News

Federal Agency & Administration Activities & News

Notable Publications & Community Events

COSSA Member Activities

COSSA Action & Outreach

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Senate Appropriations Committee Releases Text of FY 2015 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill

On July 24, the Senate Appropriations Committee released bill language and the accompanying Committee report for the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill. The Labor-HHS Subcommittee approved the bill via voice vote in June. It is still unclear when or if the measure will be considered by the full Appropriations Committee. Instead, it is all but certain that Congress will enact a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to allow time to complete the FY 2015 appropriations process after the November elections. The Senate Appropriations Committee also released draft bills and subcommittee reports on July 24 for the Energy and Water and the Financial Services appropriations bills. Under regular order, these reports are usually not released before consideration by the full Appropriations Committee. COSSA’s full analysis of the Labor-HHS bill will appear in the next COSSA Washington Update. COSSA’s preliminary analysis can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Draft COMPETES/NSF Bill Released in the Senate

Earlier this month, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee released a draft of its America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014 for public input. The America COMPETES Act is bipartisan legislation originally enacted in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010 to revitalize the U.S. scientific enterprise by making critical investments in U.S. basic science agencies. These investments were intended to ensure the U.S.’s continued standing as the global leader in science and technology innovation. COMPETES serves as authorizing legislation for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and federal STEM education programs.

The draft Senate bill is a major improvement over its House counterpart, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act, or FIRST Act (H.R. 4186), which was reported out of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in May. As previously reported, the FIRST Act is of major concern to the research community for several reasons; particularly its intent to cut the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate at NSF by more than 40 percent and, more generally, for its lack of vision for the U.S. scientific enterprise. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Cora Marrett to Leave NSF

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that Cora B. Marrett, NSF Deputy Director, will resign her position effective August 24. Marrett was confirmed as Deputy Director in 2011 and has served previously as NSF’s acting director. More notably for the COSSA community, Marrett served as the first assistant director for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate, and is a former assistant director of the Education and Human Resources Directorate. She is a major voice for social and behavioral science, within NSF and publicly, and has been a familiar face at COSSA events over the years. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, issued a statement on July 24 thanking Marrett for her service to NSF.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

NIGMS Request for Information: Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award

The National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently issued a time-sensitive Request for Information (RFI) for input to assist in its planning for a potential new program tentatively called the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA). According to NIGMS, MIRA is intended to be a grant in support of all of the research supported by the institute in an investigator’s laboratory. The Institute is planning to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement to test the new program on a pilot scale. Accordingly, it is seeking feedback from the scientific community. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

NIH Issues Challenge to Find Advances Tied to NIGMS Support

The National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking the public’s help in capturing the Institute’s progress toward its strategic goal: “to advance awareness and understanding of the basic biomedical research enterprise, including its value, requirements, and potential impact.” The Institute has issued a challenge to the scientific community with the goal of identifying past advances that are serving (or have served) to improve human health and well-being. It excludes ongoing studies that may, in the future, have a major impact.

NIGMS intends to use the examples to help inform the historical context of scientific breakthroughs and the Institute’s role in supporting them. The examples will supplement NIGMS’ ongoing efforts to link advances in human health and well-being to taxpayer-supported basic research and to stimulate further innovation by explaining the value and the impact of basic research on human health.

Submissions are expected to be a written document that describes the basic research and how it directly led to improvements in human health, well-being, or other tangible benefits to the public; NIGMS support must have played a major/critical role in one or more of the underlying discoveries. A history of continuous or exclusive NIGMS support is not required.

The focus of the submission must fall into one or both of the following categories:

  1. Major advances funded by NIGMS that have led to improvements in human health, well-being, or other tangible benefits to the public.
  2. Applications in medicine, industry, technology, or elsewhere that have their roots in NIGMS-funded research projects. Examples include commonly used diagnostics, therapeutics, devices, or technologies used in medical, industrial, agricultural, or other fields.

NIGMS plans to select up to ten winners, who will receive $500 prizes and recognition on the NIGMS website. Submissions are due by October 20, 2014. For additional requirements, judging criteria, FAQs, and other information, see NIGMS’ website.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

SMRB Discusses Pre-College Engagement in Biomedical Science; NIH Director Reflects on Impact of the Sequester

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) held a two-day meeting on July 7-8, 2014. The SMRB was authorized by the NIH Reform Act of 2006. The statute provides certain organizational authorities to the Department of Health and Human Services and NIH on which the SMRB provides advice. The meeting’s agenda included reflections from NIH director Francis Collins, and a full day discussion of pre-college engagement in biomedical science led by the SMRB Working Group on Pre-college Engagement in Biomedical Science (PEBS). (more…)

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Rising Mortality Rates in Women in the U.S.: Role of Drug Abuse and Addiction

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director Nora Volkow recently discussed the role of substance abuse in the “Rising Mortality Rates in Women in the U.S.,” the subject of a July 15 Women’s Policy, Inc.- sponsored congressional briefing. Susan Dentzer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), moderated the session.

According to Dentzer, the briefing was designed to address the data in the 2013 National Research Council (NRC) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health (see Update, October 7, 2013), also the subject of an earlier congressional briefing sponsored by the Coalition for the Advancement of Health Through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (CAHT-BSSR), a COSSA-led coalition co-chaired by deputy director Angela Sharpe. Dentzer highlighted research by David A. Kindig and Erika R. Cheng which examined the trends in age-adjusted mortality rates in U.S. counties between 1992 and 2006 and found that “even as mortality fell in most U.S. counties, female mortality rose in 42.8 percent of counties during this period.” (more…)

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

National Humanities Council Meets as NEH Faces Budget Uncertainty, New Chairman

The National Council on the Humanities, the advisory body to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), met on July 10 and 11. The meeting was presided over by NEH’s Acting Chairman Carole Watson, who has been leading the agency since Jim Leach left in May. Watson observed that it has been a time of change for NEH, which recently relocated from its home of more than 30 years in the Old Post Office Building to new offices in Constitution Center. In addition, President Obama’s nominee to lead the agency, William “Bro” Adams, former president of Colby College, had recently been confirmed by the Senate. Adams was sworn in on July 22, beginning his tenure as Chairman. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

NCHS Releases Data on Weight Misperception in Children, Sexual Orientation-Based Health Disparities

A recent National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief looks at children’s (8-15 years old) misperception of their weight status. When asked if they felt they were too thin, overweight, or about right, 30 percent of children’s responses did not match their weight status. This misperception was more common among boys (32.2 percent) than girls (28 percent). Seventy-six percent of overweight children and 41.9 percent of obese children described themselves as “about right.” Nearly half (48.5 percent) of underweight children also described themselves as “about right.” More than 12 percent of healthy weight children (over 2 million) believed themselves to be too thin or too fat. Weight misperception also varied by race and ethnicity; it was higher among non-Hispanic black (34.4 percent) and Mexican-American (34 percent) children than non-Hispanic white children (27.7 percent). The data comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005-2012.

NCHS has also released its first sexual orientation-based health data, drawn from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), as a new National Health Statistics Report, Sexual Orientation and Health Among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2013. Based on interviews with adults ages 18-64, the report indicates that 96.6 percent of adults identified as straight, 1.6 percent as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent as bisexual, with the remainder answering “don’t know,” “something else,” or refusing to answer. The report found higher rates of smoking and binge drinking among gay or lesbian and bisexual adults. Overall, there were no significant differences between straight-identified and lesbian-, gay-, or bisexual-identified adults based on physical activity, self-reported health, or uninsurance rates (although there was some variation by gender). A higher percentage of gay and lesbian adults received an influenza vaccine (42.9 percent) than straight adults (35 percent).

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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