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NIMH Announces New Strategic Plan, Approves Concept Clearances

During a public meeting on May 19, the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), the advisory body to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), released a new Strategic Plan for Research for the Institute. The strategic plan outlines NIMH’s research goals and intended priorities for the next five fiscal years, and cites four high-level goals to guide the Institute:

  • Define the Brain Mechanisms Underlying Complex Behaviors
  • Examine Mental Illness Trajectories Across the Lifespan
  • Strive for Prevention and Cures
  • Strengthen the Public Health Impact of NIMH-Supported Research

In addition to the strategic plan announcement, NAMHC heard and approved several concept clearances for potential new research, including some that would incorporate social and behavioral science. Summaries of these concept clearances and a recording of the NAMHC meeting will be available on the NIH website shortly.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 26), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIH to Host Matilda White Riley Honors Virtually on June 8

On June 8, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will host the annual Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors in a virtual capacity. The public event will feature a lecture from the 2020 Matilda White Riley Honors awardee, Toni Antonucci, Program Director and Research Professor in the Life Course Development Program at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. It will also recognize the accomplishments of several early stage investigators and their research in the behavioral and social sciences. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of OBSSR and the first year the Matilda White Riley Honors will be hosted virtually.

Registration and more information about the Matilda White Riley Honors is available on the OBSSR website.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 26), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIMHD Seeking Research Proposals on the Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Minority Health and Health Disparities

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Notice of Special Interest soliciting research proposals that aim to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting minority health and health disparities. In particular, the institute is interested in understanding how state and local public health policies affect health disparities, the role protective interventions may have in mitigating health disparities that COVID-19 may cause, and how behavioral or biological mechanisms may contribute to the spread of COVID-19. This notice is one of many coming out of the institutes and centers at NIH as the agency has been tapped by Congress in the COVID-19 stimulus bills to focus on research addressing the ongoing  pandemic (read COSSA’s analysis for more details).

Applications for this notice are due May 1, 2020. More information can be found on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 14), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIH Seeks Revision Applications to Support Firearms Injury Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a Notice of Special Interest soliciting competitive revision applications to programs that could potentially include firearms injury and mortality prevention research. This notice comes in the wake of NIH receiving $12.5 million dollars for research studying firearms injury and mortality prevention in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Appropriations bill (see COSSA’s analysis). Like all federal agencies, NIH is legislatively restricted from using its funding for certain activities such as advocating for gun control policies, but is able to fund research topics aiming to understand the underlying risk factors and variables. Topics cited by the NIH notice as within the permitted scope of research include:

  • Improving the ability to identify at-risk individuals for firearm injury and mortality;
  • Developing healthcare procedures to accurately screen for risk of firearm injury and mortality;
  • Understanding factors that are associated with firearm injury and mortality risk and resilience;
  • Developing evidence-based interventions to address risk; and
  • Assessing the public health and criminal justice systems’ approaches towards the reduction of firearm injury and mortality.

Revision applications will be accepted through May 15, 2020. More information is available on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 7 (March 31), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

House Holds Hearing on NIH Budget for FY 2021

On March 4, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) held a hearing on the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for fiscal year (FY) 2021. Witnesses included NIH Director Francis Collins; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Director Diana Bianchi; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director Gary Gibbons; National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Ned Sharpless; and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow.

Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), and full Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) all made glowing remarks in support of NIH and shared an optimism that the agency would receive a significant increase in its budget in FY 2021. Members of the Subcommittee questioned the witnesses on a variety of topics including NIH’s role in responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, initiatives addressing health disparities, Alzheimer’s disease research, open access of federally funded research, and several disease-specific topics. A statement from Collins and a recording of the hearing are available on the House LHHS website.

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NIMHD Holds 10th Anniversary Symposium

On March 3, the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held the Innovations to Promote Health Equity symposium celebrating the Institute’s 10th anniversary. The symposium, held on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, featured comments from NIMHD Director Eliseo Perez-Stable and NIH Director Francis Collins and focused on the latest innovations in health disparities research organized into four topical panels: Division of Intramural Research, Community Health and Population Sciences, Integrative Biological and Behavioral Sciences, and Clinical and Health Services Research. A video recording of the full symposium is available on the NIH website. The symposium agenda and program booklet are available on the NIMHD website.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 17), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

OBSSR Seeks Input on 2022-2026 Strategic Plan

The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is seeking broad public input on important new directions for health-related behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR). Specifically, OBSSR requests input on research directions that will support the achievement of the scientific priorities in the OBSSR Strategic Plan 2022-2026 (see the current strategic plan) and that will advance or transform the broader health impact of BSSR.  OBSSR is interested in focusing on research directions that are trans-disease and cross-cutting in nature and address critical gaps in the field.

The role of OBSSR is to coordinate and promote BSSR research across the NIH and assist NIH Institutes and Centers in developing research and training resources to advance the field.  OBSSR supports a broad range of BSSR disease, condition, population, and setting specific priorities across the NIH covering the spectrum from basic to implementation science research.

OBSSR would like input on the most important or cutting-edge, trans-disease research directions that would accelerate progress in these three strategic priority areas:

  • Synergy in Basic and Applied BSSR
  • BSSR Resources, Methods, and Measures
  • Adoption of Effective BSSR in Practice

To ensure consideration, responses must be submitted by March 29, 2020 through OBSSR’s crowdsourcing IdeaScale website.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 18), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIH Requesting Comments on Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a request for information (RFI) asking for stakeholder comments on the proposed framework for the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FYs) 2021-2025 slated for a December 2020 release. Rather than focus on specific research opportunities or institute initiatives, NIH releases a strategic plan every five years to highlight the achievements of the agency and set broader priorities.

The proposed framework for the new strategic plan highlights several cross-cutting themes for NIH including increasing diversity, reducing health disparities, optimizing data science, promoting collaborative science, and addressing public health challenges across the lifespan. These themes would support three major objectives for NIH:

  • Advancing Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences;
  • Developing, Maintaining, and Renewing Scientific Research Capacity; and
  • Exemplifying and Promoting the Highest Level of Scientific Integrity, Public Accountability, and Social Responsibility in the Conduct of Science.

Comments will be accepted through March 25, 2020. More information about the NIH-Wide Strategic Plans can be found on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 18), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIMHD to Celebrate 10th Anniversary with Scientific Symposium

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is hosting a scientific symposium titled Innovations to Promote Health Equity in honor of the institute’s 10th anniversary. The symposium will highlight new discoveries in minority health and health disparities research and will feature four panels focused on the following issue areas:

  • Integrative Biological and Behavioral Sciences
  • Community Health and Population Sciences
  • Clinical and Health Services Research
  • Multidisciplinary Intramural Research at NIMHD

The symposium will take place at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland on March 3, 2020 and will be webcast live on the NIH website. Registration for the event is free and open to the public. More information and a draft agenda for the symposium is available on the NIMHD website.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 18), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

House Passes Bill on Suicide Prevention Research

On January 27, the House of Representatives passed the Advancing Research to Prevent Suicide Act (H.R. 4704) by a vote of 385 to 8. The bill, sponsored by freshman Member Ben McAdams (D-UT), would direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund cross-disciplinary research—including research in the social and behavioral sciences—focused on preventing suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Additionally, the bill enables NSF to collaborate with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund research grants on suicide prevention and promote the professional development of suicide prevention researchers. Although the bill was passed by the Democrat-controlled House, it is unlikely to gain traction with the Republican-controlled Senate and will likely not become law.

The full text of the bill is available online. More information can be found on McAdams’ website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 4), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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