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President Appoints Five New Members of the National Science Board, Reappoints Two Members

On November 5, President Trump announced his intent to make five appointments to the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The selections include reappointments of former NSB chair Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Geraldine Richmond of the University of Oregon. Two of the new appointees, Alan Stern and Stephen Willard, have backgrounds in the private sector. Dr. Stern is considered to be a champion of commercial space activities and has worked for Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. Mr. Willard is currently the CEO of a biotechnology firm after earlier careers in law and investment banking. The three other appointees will join the NSB from universities. Steven Leath is currently the President of Auburn University, after a career in agricultural research; Suresh Garimella is a professor of mechanical engineering and former vice president for research at Perdue University; and Maureen Condic is on faculty at the University of Utah and has focused her work on human neurological development, including testifying before congress on the ability of fetuses to experience pain during early stages of development and opposing research on embryonic stem cells.

Board members are nominated by the President to serve six-year terms, with the opportunity for renewal. In addition to Drs. Zuber and Richmond, the terms of six members of the NSB expired in May, meaning that education researcher Deborah Ball, internet founder Vinton Cerf, and four other NSB members were not selected for renewal. The NSB will hold its first meeting with the new appointees on November 28 and 29.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Comments Sought on Federal Data Strategy Best Practices

As recommended in the President’s Management Agenda released back in March, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been leading the development of a government-wide Federal Data Strategy to better manage the government’s data resources and improve the accessibility and usability of federal date for decision-making. The developers have finalized ten principles to guide the strategy across the themes of Ethical Governance, Conscious Design, and Learning Culture and are seeking comments on 47 aspirational best practices that are intended to “inform agency actions on a regular basis, to be continually relevant, and to be sufficiently general so as to broadly apply at all federal agencies and across all missions.” The practices are grouped according to five broad objectives: Govern and Manage Data as a Strategic Asset, Protect and Secure Data, Promote Efficient Use of Data Assets, Build a Culture that Values Data as an Asset, and Honor Stakeholder Input and Leverage Partners. Comments on the draft practices are due by November 16, 2018. Instructions for submitting feedback and the complete list of practices are available on the Data Strategy website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

White House Science Council Seeks Feedback on Opioid R&D Roadmap

The White House National Science and Technology Council is accepting comments on a report, Health Research and Development to Stem the Opioid Crisis: A National Roadmap. The report was produced by the Opioid Fast Track Action Committee (FTAC), co-chaired by Fay Lomax Cook, former Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Wilson M. Compton, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The report is intended to support the federal response to the opioid crisis by identifying areas for research and development (R&D) to address knowledge gaps related to opioid use, abuse, and treatment as well as opportunities for improving coordination of related federal R&D efforts.  The report describes seven overarching areas of R&D, including several with direct relevance to the social and behavioral sciences: Biology and Chemistry of Pain and Opioid Addiction, Non-Biological Contributors to Opioid Addiction, Pain Management, Prevention of Opioid Addiction, Treatment of Opioid Addiction and Withdrawal, Overdose Prevention and Recovery, and Community Consequences of Opioid Addiction. Comments are due by December 5, 2018. Instructions for responding are posted on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA Encourages Response to NIH Clinical Trials RFI

As previously reported, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been taking steps in recent years to enhance its stewardship of and increase transparency over the clinical trials it funds. This has included the development of a new, expanded definition of the term “clinical trial,” which now applies to all research involving human subjects that involves a prospective experimental manipulation of an independent variable, and triggers the need for researchers to adhere to a number of new registering and reporting requirements using clinicaltrials.gov (see COSSA’s Hot Topic piece for details). Many basic behavioral and social science studies will be caught up in these new requirements.

NIH released a Request for Information (RFI) (NOT-OD-18-217) in September seeking input on the standards NIH should use in registration and results reporting for prospective basic science studies involving human participants (see COSSA’s previous coverage of the RFI). COSSA has issued an Action Alert to assist stakeholders concerned about this revised “clinical trials” definition in responding to the RFI. The alert includes additional context on the NIH clinical trials policy, a step-by-step guide to responding to the RFI, and sample text respondents can use in submitting their comments. Responses to the RFI are due by November 12, 2018. COSSA encourages individuals concerned about this policy to respond and share the action alert widely.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Census Reissues Request for Input on 2020 Data Products

The Census Bureau has reopened a request for comments published over the summer to encourage additional feedback on how data products from prior decennial censuses (including summary and detailed tables, national and state demographic profiles, and topical briefs) have been used. As part of the Bureau’s ongoing efforts to safeguard privacy, some data products released after previous decennial censuses may be eliminated. Stakeholder input is necessary to help the Bureau prioritize which data products are most important to maintain. More information, including specific questions of interest to the Bureau and a spreadsheet containing a complete list of data products and tables, is available in the original Federal Register notice published in July. Note: this request does not have any bearing on the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. Comments must be submitted by November 8, 2018.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH Seeks Input on BRAIN Initiative

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking feedback through November 15 on a Request for Information (RFI) on the next phase of the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative (NOT-NS-18-075). The agency is requesting input on the vision, priorities and goals outlined in the 2014 strategic plan, specifically in the following areas: ideas for new tools and technologies that have the potential to transform brain circuit research, questions about brain circuit function in humans or animal models that could be addressed with new technologies, considerations for data sharing infrastructure and policies, questions about ethical implications of BRAIN-supported neurotechnologies and advancements, approaches for disseminating new tools and technologies, and training the broader neuroscience research community. The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA member, provides additional details here.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Seeks Nominations for the 2019 Alan T. Waterman Award

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. Psychologist Kristina R. Olson received the 2018 Waterman award and was the first social scientist to receive the award since 2005. More information can be found on the NSF website. Nominations may be submitted until October 22, 2018.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Announces New Sexual Harassment Policy

On September 21, the National Science Foundation (NSF) published a new term and condition for awards, to be enacted October 21, 2018, requiring awardee organizations to report findings of sexual harassment. The new term and condition will require awardee organizations to notify NSF of:

  • “Any findings or determinations that an NSF-funded principal investigator (PI) or co-principal investigator(co-PI) committed harassment, including sexual harassment or sexual assault.
  • The placement of the PI or co-PI on administrative leave, or of the imposition of any administrative action relating to a harassment or sexual assault finding or investigation.”

After notification, NSF will consult with the organization and determine what action is necessary under NSF’s authority, including substituting or removing PIs or co-PIs, reducing award funding, and where neither of those options is available or adequate—suspending or terminating awards. NSF has developed an online submission system for the required notifications that will be available on NSF’s sexual harassment page, which will send information directly to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.  More information can be found on NSF’s website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH Studying Impacts of Recent Hurricanes on Health Risks and Resilience

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced eight awards that will support researchers examining the health impacts of hurricanes Maria and Irma on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017. The grants, which are funded through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), will focus on the impacts of psychosocial stressors related to the recent hurricanes, “such as grief, separation from home and loved ones, loss of income, and limited access to medical care.” More information and a full list of the grantees are available on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NCHS Releases Health, United States

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has released the 41st edition of one of its flagship publications, Health, United States, the “report card” on the nation’s health. Health, United States, 2017 compiles federal data on a wide range of topics related to morbidity, mortality, health care utilization and access, health risk factors, prevention, health insurance, and personal health care expenditures. The 2017 edition includes a special feature on mortality; life expectancy at birth has decreased for two years in a few, for the first time since 1993. The complete report is available on the NCHS website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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