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NIH Announces New Next Generation Researchers Policy

On August 31, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new policy aimed at increasing the number of early career investigators competing successfully for NIH grants. The Policy Supporting the Next Generation Researchers Initiative implements Section 2021 of the 21st Century Cures Act, enacted in late 2016, which calls for the agency to prioritize investment in the next generation of biomedical researchers.

The Next Generation Researchers Policy sets two new definitions of early career investigators: Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) and Early Established Investigators (EEIs). Early Stage Investigators are defined as a “program director/principal investigator who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully… for a substantial NIH independent research award.” An Early Established Investigator is a “program director/principal investigator who is within 10 years of receiving their first substantial, independent competing NIH R01-equivelent research award as an ESI.” Funding will be prioritized for an EEI if “(1) The EEI lost or is at risk for losing all NIH research support if not funded by competing awards this year, or (2) The EEI is supported by only one active award.”

The new policy will take effect this year (fiscal year 2017), with a goal of funding approximately 200 more ESI and EEI researchers (each) than were supported in FY 2016. Individual institute and center (IC) directors are tasked with determining how best to re-prioritize funding to enable these investments this year. A working group of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), which advises the NIH Director, has been established to monitor the implementation of the new policy.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIH Requests Information on ECHO-wide Cohort Data Collection Protocol

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking input into the development of the cohort data collection protocol for the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program. ECHO was formed late last year to “investigate how exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development—from conception through early childhood–influences the health of children and adolescents.” ECHO represents the follow-on activity to the now-discontinued National Children’s Study.

The Request for Information seeks comments on a number of aspects of the ECHO-wide cohort, which will entail data collection from 84 existing cohorts. Input is sought on the data elements, types of biospecimens, and innovative data collection methodology associated with the cohort.

The deadline for comments has been extended to September 13.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIJ Releases New Policing Research Strategic Plan

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research and evaluation arm of the Department of Justice, has released a five-year strategic plan for policing research. Priorities include promoting and supporting research to optimize workforce development for officers and civilian personnel, promoting and supporting research on policing practices, and promoting and supporting research on the relationship between policing and communities. More information can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Seeking Candidates for Director of Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking candidates for the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) within the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The BCS Director is responsible for providing leadership and direction to the Division and implementing overall strategic planning. The BCS Division provides funding for research that helps advance scientific knowledge about the brain, human cognition, language, social behavior, and culture. Applications must be submitted by September 29, 2017. The position requirements can be found on USAJobs.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

AHRQ Releases 2016 Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released the 2016 edition of its Congressionally-mandated National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (QDR). This year marks the 14th annual release of the report, which compiles over 250 individual measurements to present a comprehensive overview of the equity and quality of our health care system. The report is available on the AHRQ website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

White House Outlines FY 2019 R&D Budget Priorities, Emphasizes Role of Industry

On August 17, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney, with Michael Kratsios, Deputy Assistant Secretary to the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), issued a joint memorandum to federal agency and department heads on “FY 2019 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities.” The R&D memo, along with an earlier memo released in July that outlines more general budget reforms, keeps with the practices of past administrations to lay out key White House priorities as agencies begin working on their budget submissions for the next fiscal year. Of course, the priorities within the memos can differ dramatically depending on the Administration, which is the case with this year’s guidance.

The FY 2019 R&D memo acknowledges the important role of science and technology to America’s global leadership, and particularly to issues of “national security, economic growth, and job creation.” However, there is some subtle, yet important language signaling possible shifts in this Administration’s priorities for science funding. For example, the memo states, “In spurring future advances, Federal funding of research and development programs and research infrastructure can play a crucial supporting role [emphasis added].” While it directs federal agencies to “continue, and expand where necessary, efforts to focus on basic research,” it directs agencies to reduce funding overlaps with private industry in later-stage research. It further states that “Working in tandem, the Government and the private sector can promote the nation’s economic growth through innovation, and create new products and services for the American people.”

The memo also outlines a number of priorities related to funding practices and accountability, including ensuring that “proposed programs are based on sound science, do not duplicate existing R&D efforts, and have the potential to contribute to the public good.” It further states that federal agencies should identify existing programs “that could progress more efficiently through private sector R&D, and consider their modification or elimination where Federal involvement is no longer needed or appropriate.”

Other key science priorities for the Trump Administration in FY 2019 include research “that can support the military of the future,” the development of “technologies necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, mitigate the effects of both natural and adversarial threats and hazards, and secure American borders,” and development of a domestic energy portfolio that includes “fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy sources.” As for biomedical (NIH) research, the memo calls for priority to be placed on programs “that encourage innovation to prevent, treat, and defeat diseases, and maintain America’s standing as a world leader in medicine.” Further, agencies should prioritize research addressing aging populations, drug addiction, and other public health challenges.

Additional details can be found in the memorandum.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Science Board Accepting Nominations

Nominations are being sought for new members of the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that also serves as an independent advisor to the President and Congress on federal science policy. The Board consists of 24 members who serve staggered six-year terms, with the NSF director serving as a 25th ex officio member. Nominations are considered by the NSB, which makes recommendations to the White House. New members of the Board are appointed by the President. For the incoming class of 2018-2024, the NSB is particularly interested in individuals with expertise in enterprise risk management, international research collaborations, convergent research and grand challenges, promotion of diversity and minority serving institutions, Integrative social sciences, and STEM education and the science of learning, among others. The complete list and other selection criteria are available in the NSB’s Dear Colleague letter. More information on the nomination process is available on the NSB website. Nominations are due by September 8, 2017.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 8), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Human Subjects Advisory Committee Seeking New Members

The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), the advisory body to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary and the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP), is soliciting nominations to fill four vacancies in 2017. SACHRP provides scientific expertise and recommendation on matters related to the protection of human subjects in scientific research. The Committee will likely play an important role as OHRP implements the revisions to the Common Rule (see COSSA’s coverage). Experts are sought from fields including “public health and medicine, behavioral and social sciences, health administration, and biomedical ethics.” Nominations must be received no later than September 18, 2017. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 8), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIJ Publishes Two Reports on School Safety

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research and evaluation agency of the Department of Justice, has published two reports as part of their Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. This research-focused initiative began in response to high-profile incidents of school violence and aims to identify causes of school violence, increase school safety, and implement policies for safer schools. The two reports released on July 28 are Summary of School Safety Statistics, which includes data collected by researchers as well as federal agencies, and States’ Roles in Keeping Schools Safe: Opportunities and Challenges for State School Safety Centers and Other Actors, which includes insight from school safety officers from 20 states.  

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 8), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

OMB’s FY 2019 Budget Guidance Calls for Major Funding Reforms

On July 7, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), led by Director Mick Mulvaney, issued a memorandum to federal departments and agencies with guidance on how to approach development of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget submission. According to the memo, “the FY 2019 Budget will provide an opportunity to present a comprehensive plan for reforming the Federal Government and reducing the Federal civilian workforce. It also will reflect the first impacts of the Government reorganization called for by Executive Order 13781 [issued in March].” Budget submissions are expected to continue proposals included in the FY 2018 budget. Initial FY 2019 budget proposals from the agencies are due to OMB by September 11, 2017, even though agencies will not yet know what their FY 2018 budgets will be (see related article).

As you may recall, the Trump Administration implemented a temporary federal workforce hiring freeze during its first few weeks in office and issued a “Comprehensive plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce.” Agencies’ FY 2019 budgets are expected to include “agency reform plans” that make proposals for eliminating activities, restructuring or merging, improving organizational efficiency and effectiveness, and workforce management.

Alongside submission of their budget proposals, agencies are also tasked with submitting draft strategic plans covering FY 2018-2022, a draft FY 2019 performance plan, and agency priority goals for FY 2018-2019. OMB will work with federal departments and agencies over the next several months to prepare the final FY 2019 budget request, which will be delivered to Congress in February 2018.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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