House Subcommittee Discusses CDC Budget; Director Questioned on Gun Violence, HIV/AIDS Research

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies met on March 25 to consider the administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget proposal for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In attendance was CDC Director Thomas Frieden, accompanied by Beth Bell, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, and Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General and Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) praised the CDC in his opening statement for protecting public health in the U.S. and abroad. He noted that while the CDC enjoys bipartisan support from the committee, sequestration remains in place for FY 2016 (at least for the time being) and expressed a desire to ensure taxpayer dollars are not spent on “politically motivated activities.” Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) also spoke about sequestration in her opening statement, calling it “disastrous” and pointing out that CDC has lost $1.35 billion (adjusted for inflation) since 2010.

In his opening statement, Frieden highlighted several of the priorities in the Administration’s budget request for CDC (see COSSA’s analysis), including a $264 million increase to combat antimicrobial resistance and initiatives to address the prescription drug overdose epidemic and hepatitis, promote global public health, and eradicate polio.

Overall, the lines of questioning were cordial, with many Members expressing their support for the work the CDC is doing to promote America’s public health. However, Rep. Scott Ringell (R-VA) took issue with a proposed $10 million increase to support research on the causes of prevention of gun violence. Acknowledging that he supports reducing gun violence, Ringell suggested that the research does not fall within the CDC’s mission. Frieden explained that the program would follow the recommendations laid out in a 2013 Institute of Medicine report on public health research priorities for reducing gun violence. Ringell argued that the research questions surrounding gun violence “don’t require a lot of research,” because they are “obvious by observation” and that the money would be better spent on issues like antibiotic resistance.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) also questioned the director on what he saw as “off-mission” research. Citing similar language in the HIV/AIDS research programs’ budget justifications to Congress from the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Harris asked whether there was duplication between the two agencies. Frieden responded that the White House’s Office of National AIDS Policy implements a National HIV/AIDS Strategy to ensure coordination across the federal government on HIV/AIDS, and that the NIH supports basic research, while the CDC supports research aimed at scaling up programs that have been proven to be effective. Harris took issue with that explanation because the NIH supports behavioral research, which, in his understanding, “is not basic science.” Although, he conceded, “maybe I just have a different idea of what basic science is.”

Additional information, including a webcast of the hearing can be viewed on the Subcommittee website.

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Posted in Issue 6 (April 7), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

COSSA Washington Update, Volume 34 Issue 5

Featured News

COSSA in Action

Congressional News

Federal Agency & Administration News

Publications & Community Events

Funding Opportunities

COSSA Member Spotlight

Events Calendar

View the archived email.

Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

Summaries Available from COSSA Annual Meeting

Thank you to all who attended the 2015 COSSA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on March 9-10.  Summaries and presentations from several of the sessions are available on the Annual Meeting webpage.  Speakers included France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation, William Riley, Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, among others.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

COSSA Joins Coalitions Requesting Strong FY 2016 Appropriations

As Congress begins to consider funding for fiscal year (FY) 2016, COSSA has joined dozens of other organizations and coalitions on letters to appropriators in support of strong levels of funding for the federal agencies that support social and behavioral science research. Check our website for the most updated list of letters COSSA has joined.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

NSF Releases Public Access Plan

On March 18, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a framework for increasing public access to federally-funded scientific research results made possible through NSF support. The plan aligns with a 2013 memorandum issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which called on each federal agency to develop public access plans. The NSF plan calls for “versions of record” or final manuscripts accepted to peer-reviewed journals to be deposited into a publicly accessible repository (designated by NSF) and be available for download free of charge within 12 months of initial publication. The guidance will apply to new awards in 2016. A Federal Register notice outlining additional details is expected next month. Refer to the NSF website for additional information.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

NIGMS Releases 2015-2020 Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) recently released its 2015 -2020 strategic plan.  According to NIGMS director Jon Lorsch, the plan outlines the Institute’s priorities and activities, including “the goals, objectives and implementation strategies that the Institute—in partnership with the scientific community at universities, professional societies and other federal agencies—will engage in over the next five years.”  Additionally, the plan provides “snapshots” of specific institute priorities and achievements.

In his director’s message, Lorsch emphasizes that the Institute continues to place “great emphasis on supporting investigator-initiated research grants” and highlights NIGMS emphasis on “the critical importance of rigor, reproducibility and transparency in all biomedical pursuits.” He also underscores the Institute’s research training programs which recognize “the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical research… [and] emphasize experiences that cut across fields of inquiry.”  This includes the recognition of “a compelling need to promote diversity in the biomedical research workforce.” Lorsch further emphasizes that NIGMS is “committed to galvanizing efforts to diversify the workforce by recruiting talented researchers from all groups and supporting quality educational and training environments in a wide variety of scientific areas.”

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team Seeks Fellows and Associates

The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) has issued a call for fellows and associates to “translate insights from the social and behavioral sciences into concrete recommendations for how to improve federal programs, policies, and operations…” This activity was referenced in the President’s FY 2016 Budget Request (see page 5).  Fellows tend to be researchers holding a PhD in a social science field who take leave from their university, government agency, etc. to serve in this position.  Associates are researchers currently pursuing a PhD in a related field, or who have a Master’s degree plus two years or more of relevant experience.  Fellows and associates sought for this opportunity would begin in September 2015. Applications are due April 12.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

COSSA/CPR Sponsor “NIH 101” Congressional Briefing

yamamotoOn February 27, the COSSA-led Coalition to Promote Research (CPR) organized a Congressional briefing designed to provide an overview of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) peer review process and the types of grants funded by the agency.

The briefing’s speaker, Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor for research and executive vice dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, is a leading molecular biologist and has served on the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review’s advisory committee, as well as other NIH advisory panels and peer review committees. Using contemporary biology, Yamamoto discussed the NIH priority-setting process for determining research priorities as well as its methods for soliciting input from the scientific community and the public.

Yamamoto explained what he characterized as the complexities of peer review and the limits of knowledge; NIH peer review acknowledges and manages intrinsic conflicts of interests, operates on a massive scale across a broad scope, incorporates complex metrics for merit and success, and is imperfect, but continues to evolve and improve. “By any measure, NIH peer review is best,” Yamamoto concluded.

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) acting executive director for science, Howard Kurtzman, moderated the briefing, which was attended by more than 60 congressional staff members and representatives of organizations that support the NIH.

The briefing sponsors included the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, APA, Association of American Medical Colleges, Coalition for Life Sciences, CPR, COSSA, Population Association of America, and Research!America.

CPR is a coalition of national organizations committed to promoting public health, innovation and fundamental knowledge through scientific research. The organizations represent hundreds of thousands of scientists, physicians, health care providers, and patients who support federal investments in basic and applied biomedical and behavioral research.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

NRC Workshop Discusses Changing Social Norms

The National Research Council’s Committee on the Science of Changing Behavioral Health Norms held its first workshop on March 18, “Lessons Learned from Diverse Efforts to Change Social Norms.” The project, which is housed within the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, is co-sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The committee is charged with helping SAMHSA “implement strategies that improve attitudes and beliefs about mental and substance use disorders.”

Sessions focused on messaging strategies, methods for communications efforts, big-picture looks at social change, and case studies, with speakers discussing lessons learned from past efforts to educate and reduce negative attitudes toward mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy; prevent bullying of gay and lesbian teens; and decrease tobacco use in youth. Common themes of the presentations included the importance of building evaluation into campaigns from the start, tailoring the message and strategy to the habits of the target population, and having the flexibility to adapt efforts to changing environments.

The webcast and slides will be made available on the committee’s website. A follow-up workshop, on “Opportunities and Strategies to Promote Behavior Change in Behavioral Health,” is planned for April 15.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

COSSA Welcomes Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

COSSA is pleased to welcome the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) as its newest member. Headquartered in New York, NY, ABCT works to promote “advancement of scientific approaches to the understanding and improvement of human functioning through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to the assessment, prevention, treatment of human problems, and the enhancement of health and well-being.”

COSSA’s full membership list can be viewed here.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)