The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will hold a series of public virtual listening sessions to inform its assessment of federal scientific integrity policies pursuant to President Biden’s January memorandum on science integrity and evidence-based policymaking. These sessions will complement an open request for information on science integrity and evidence-based policymaking (see previous coverage). Each of the three listening sessions will focus on a different theme:
- July 28: Communication
- July 29: Science and Education
- July 30: Use of Scientific and Technical Information
More details and information on how to register for the listening sessions is available on the OSTP website.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) have announced the dates for a series of virtual listening sessions to receive feedback from scientific societies, patient advocacy groups, industry, and other stakeholders about potential projects and priorities for Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the proposed new agency to be housed within NIH dedicated to high-risk, high-reward research applied to solve broad societal problems (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). The listening sessions, which will be broken up by topical focus, may include a variety of formats including large, public discussions and small, invitation-only meetings. The following sessions and dates have been announced so far:
- July 22: Advocates for Research on Cancer, Disorders of the Heart, Lungs, Blood, and Environmental Health
- July 23: Advocates for Research on Aging, Arthritis, and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders
- July 26: Advocates for Research on Eye Disease and Visual Impairment, Deafness and Communication Disorders, and Dental and Craniofacial Disorders
- July 30: Advocates for Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and Nursing
- August 2: Advocates for Research on Addiction and Alcoholism
- August 3: Advocates for Research on Diabetes, Digestive Disorders and Kidney Disease, Child and Maternal Health, and Complementary and Integrative Medicine
- August 4: Advocates for Biomedical and Translational Research and General Medicine
- August 5: Advocates for Research on Allergies and Infectious Diseases, and Global Health
- August 11: Advocates for Research on Genomics, Biomedical Engineering and Imaging, and Health Informatics, and Medical Libraries
- August 16: Advocates for Research on Neurology and Mental Health
A list of the listening sessions and registration information is available on the NIH website.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting applications for the position of Division Director for the Social and Economic Sciences (SES) Division within the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The Division Director “serves as a member of the directorate’s leadership team and as a principal NSF spokesperson for social and economic sciences.” More information on the position can be found in the Dear Colleague Letter from SBE. Applications may be submitted through USAJOBS and are being accept through August 6, 2021.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Request for Information inviting feedback from stakeholders on the outline of the upcoming NIAAA Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022-2026. The strategic plan outline, which is included in the request, contains several cross-cutting themes including promoting health equity and diversity in alcohol research spaces, identifying unique risks for alcohol misuse, advancing research on co-occurring conditions with alcohol misuse, supporting new technologies on diagnosis of alcoholism, increasing the use of data science in alcohol research, and encouraging collaboration between alcohol research and other topics.
The outline also notes three major goals for the institute:
- Identify and track the biological, social, environmental, and behavioral causes and consequences of alcohol misuse;
- Prevent and reduce alcohol misuse and associated developmental effects, health conditions, and acute harms;
- Advance diagnosis and treatment of alcohol-related conditions.
Comments will be accepted through July 30 and may be submitted through an online form on the NIH website.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor awarded by the NSF to early-career researchers. The annual award recognizes an outstanding young researcher, 40 years of age or younger or no more than 10 years beyond receipt of their Ph.D., in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $1,000,000 over a five-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, social or other sciences at the institution of the recipient’s choice. Recent winners representing the social and behavioral sciences include Nicholas Carnes (2021) and Kristina R. Olson (2018). More information can be found on the NSF website. Nominations may be submitted until September 20, 2021.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a request for information (RFI) on ways to improve the effectiveness of federal scientific integrity policies, in support of President Biden’s January 27 Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (see previous coverage). OSTP has convened an interagency task force of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) that will conduct a review of the government’s science integrity policies. To inform this effort, OSTP seeks information about: “(1) The effectiveness of federal scientific integrity policies and needed areas of improvement; (2) good practices federal agencies could adopt to improve scientific integrity, including in the communication of scientific information, addressing emerging technologies and evolving scientific practices, supporting professional development of Federal scientists, and promoting transparency in the implementation of agency scientific integrity policies; and (3) other topics or concerns that Federal scientific integrity policies should address.” More details and information on how to respond to the RFI is available in the Federal Register notice. Comments should be submitted by July 28, 2021.
On June 30, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued new guidance related to the implementation of the 2018 Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (“Evidence Act”) (see previous coverage). The guidance (memorandum M-21-27)—the first Evidence Act guidance released under the Biden Administration—affirms the Administration’s commitment to the goals of the Evidence Act and expands on previously released guidance related to Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans. It also more explicitly connects agency activities under the Evidence Act to the White House’s January 27 Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (see previous coverage and related article). The guidance reasserts the principle that evaluation and evidence-building should be integrated into the everyday work of federal agencies: “OMB strongly believes that implementing the Evidence Act is not a compliance exercise […]. Agencies should not simply produce the required documents and then turn their attention elsewhere; success requires that agencies develop processes and practices that establish habitual and routine reliance on evidence across agency functions and demand new or better evidence when it is needed.” More details are available in the memorandum.
On June 23, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter highlighting existing opportunities for collaboration at the agency’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate. The letter cites the prevalence of overlap between the fields of social science and computer science as motivation for increased collaboration and that this collaboration may be critical for addressing societal problems. The letter also notes that the SBE and CISE Advisory Committees have been discussing research areas of mutual interest which may indicate increased collaborations in the future. A list of the potential collaborative programs is available on the NSF website.
In the first few weeks since his confirmation on May 28, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Eric Lander has been active in advocating for President Biden’s ambitious science policy agenda, most notably the proposal for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the DARPA-like research agency proposed to be housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During the June 10-11 meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH, Lander presented a more thorough vision of ARPA-H’s role as a high risk, high reward vehicle to address specific societal questions. A recording of the presentation is available on the NIH website.
With Lander’s confirmation behind the Administration, the scientific community now awaits announcement of appointments to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST, which Lander will co-chair, is the nation’s highest-level advisory body related to science policy issues, advising the President and his Administration on all aspects of the STEM enterprise and ways to apply it to Administration priorities. The last Administration did not reconstitute and appointment members to PCAST until almost three years into its term. With President Biden’s laser focus on science and technology, it is expected that PCAST will be populated sometime this year. We will continue to report on new developments.
On June 15, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced its first formal partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, the major Canadian federal agency for funding natural science and engineering research. The partnership is stated to focus on emerging technologies as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion within the research enterprise. NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, who has frequently cited partnerships as a priority for his tenure, stated “this partnership with our counterpart Canadian funding agency opens doorways to new possibilities for international collaboration between U.S. and Canadian researchers in areas of mutual interest and national investment, such as AI and quantum.” More information is available on the NSF website.