Blog Archives

NIH Releases Data Science Strategic Plan

On June 4, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its first strategic plan for data science. The strategic plan will serve as a roadmap for modernizing the NIH-supported biomedical data science ecosystem and provide leadership within the broader biomedical research data community. NIH will begin implementing the plan over the next year and focus on usability of NIH-funded biomedical data sets and resources, integration of existing data management tools and development of new ones, and the growing costs of data management. NIH will seek community input during the implementation phase and plans to hire a Chief Data Strategist to help advance data science across the intramural and extramural research communities. Read more here.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 12), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Senate Subcommittee Holds Hearing on 2019 NIH Budget

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) hosted leadership from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to testify on the agency’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request. NIH Director Francis Collins, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Director Walter Koroshetz, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, National Cancer Institute Director Norman Sharpless, and National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow all testified. Senators from both parties praised NIH for its accomplishments, further solidifying its position as a bipartisan priority. Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and other members of the subcommittee expressed concern with the $2 billion cut recommended in the President’s FY 2019 budget request, especially in contrast to the $3 billion increase NIH received from Congress in the FY 2018 omnibus spending bill. Committee members questioned witnesses on NIH activities related to the opioid epidemic, a universal flu vaccine, immunotherapy, the recent outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a recent scandal at NIH regarding an alcohol industry-financed study of the health affects of alcohol. Written statements from Blunt and Collins, along with a recording of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website. COSSA’s coverage of FY 2019 funding is available here.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 29), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

House Subcommittee Discusses 2019 NIH Budget

On April 11, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) heard testimony from leadership of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 NIH budget request. NIH Director Francis Collins, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Director Diana Bianchi, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, National Cancer Institute Director Norman Sharpless, and National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow all testified at the hearing. NIH was lauded for its accomplishments by members of both parties, further solidifying its position as a bi-partisan priority. Subcommittee Chair Tom Cole (R-OK), Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and other members of the subcommittee expressed concern with the $2 billion cut recommended in the President’s FY 2019 budget request, in stark contrast to the $3 billion increase NIH received in the omnibus FY 2018 spending bill. Committee members also discussed NIH activities related to the opioid epidemic, the flu vaccine, medical and recreational marijuana, and cancer detection. A recording of the hearing and written statements from Collins and Cole can be found on the House Appropriations Committee’s website. COSSA’s coverage of FY 2019 funding is available here.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 17), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH Launches HEAL Initiative to Address the Opioid Epidemic

On April 4, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new effort to accelerate progress toward addressing the opioid addiction crisis. The Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative will use the increase in NIH funding provided by the FY 2018 omnibus bill to nearly double funding for research on opioid misuse/addiction and pain compared to FY 2016 ($1.1 billion compared to $600 million). The initiative will fund research in two broad areas: (1) Prevent addiction through enhanced pain management, and (2) Improve treatments for opioid misuse disorder and addiction. Within the preventing addiction portfolio, NIH proposes to launch a longitudinal study to follow patients at risk for chronic pain and to fund research on understanding “the genetic and social factors that put patients at risk for opioid misuse and addiction.” As part of its improving addiction treatment efforts, the Institute also plans to “assess the additive role of social and behavioral interventions” to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs. More information about the initiative is posted on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 17), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH Takes Next Steps in Agency Reorganization Plans

As part of the Trump Administration’s government reform agenda, including its comprehensive plan for reorganizing the executive branch and reducing the federal civilian workforce, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created an initiative called ReImagine HHS. As part of this initiative, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched Optimize NIH in December 2017 to improve organizational effectiveness and performance. NIH is working to equilibrate workload distribution across scientific review and grants and program management functions and anticipates that the Optimize NIH effort will be fully implemented over the next two to three years. Research functions are not expected to be among the first areas addressed as part of the activity. Rather, NIH will be looking at ways to streamline communications, ethics, and Freedom of Information Act requests across the agency.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 17), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

House Members Join Together to Support NIH, Title VI International Education in Dear Colleague Letters

As Congress begins deliberations on fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending, groups of Representatives have joined together to express their support for federal programs, including those important to the social and behavioral sciences. A bipartisan group of 82 representatives signed on to a “Dear Colleague letter” in support of the Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays and Title VI international education programs. The letter calls for at least $72.16 million for the two programs. Separately, a bipartisan group of 209 Representatives also joined together to express support, and request $38.4 billion, for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 3), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

OBSSR Soliciting Papers for 11th Annual Matilda White Riley Honors

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking paper submissions for its Early Stage Investigator Paper Competition as part of the 11th Annual Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Science Honors. Early stage investigators are encouraged to submit one published article from 2017 that reflects social and behavioral science advancements helping to enhance life, lengthen life, reduce illness, and reduce disability. Honorees will present their findings on May 31, 2018 in a public event on the NIH campus. Submissions are due by February 18 and more information can be found on the OBSSR website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH Continues to Tweak Policy for Investing in Young Researchers

As previously reported, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced over the summer a new policy aimed at increasing the number of early career investigators competing successfully for NIH grants. The Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI) included two new definitions of early career investigators: Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) would include researchers who completed their degrees within the last 10 years and have not yet received their first NIH grant; Early Established Investigators (EEIs) would have to be within 10 years of receiving their first independent R01-equivelent research award.

In a presentation to the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director last month, NIH Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak discussed the deliberations of a working group tasked with implementing the NGRI, including a number of concerns with the policy released in August. The working group recommends that NIH shift its policy away from the arbitrary 10-year cutoffs as set in the two definitions and instead place the focus on investigators who are the most “at risk” of losing their funding, regardless of age or years since degree. Another area for concern by the working group is that existing funds are to be used to fund awards to the determined investigators, possibly diverting funds away from established researchers. NIH will continue to refine the initiative over the coming months. The working group is expected to release its report in June.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH “Clinical Trials” Definition Moving Forward: Researchers Take Notice

As previously reported, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been working for the last few years to enhance its stewardship of and increase transparency over the clinical trials it funds. In a recent blog post, Mike Lauer, Deputy Director for Extramural Research, explained that while no changes have been made to the definition of a clinical trial, which is the primary area of concern for the social science community, the case studies developed by NIH to help investigators determine whether their research would now fall under the new definition have been updated and clarified.

COSSA described the planned changes and their impacts on the social science research community in a Hot Topic piece last year. All social and behavioral science researchers who have received NIH funding in the past, or who are looking to apply in the very near future, are strongly encouraged to review this information as your research may now fall under NIH’s revised definition of a “clinical trial” and require new steps to be taken. This policy impacts funding opportunity announcements with due dates of January 25, 2018 and beyond.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

OBSSR to Host Annual Research Festival on December 8

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is hosting the “NIH Behavioral and Social Science Research Festival: Connecting People to Advance Health” on Friday, December 8. The festival will bring together behavioral and social scientists from inside and outside NIH to network, collaborate, and share ideas. The agenda will include a keynote address from Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities as well as plenary sessions on international research, behavioral neuroscience, and social factors and health. This event will not be webcast. More details and registration information can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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