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OBSSR Seeks Nominations for Matilda White Riley Keynote Lecture

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is accepting nominations for an social or behavioral scientist to delivery the keynote address at the Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Science Honors on June 8, 2020. Nominees should have a research career that has “advanced behavioral and social scientific knowledge in areas within NIH’s mission and Dr. White Riley’s vision.” More information is available here. Nominations may be emailed to Erica Spotts by November 15, 2019.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 15), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Senate Makes Progress on FY 2020 Appropriations for NSF, Census, NIH, Education, USDA

With the passage of a continuing resolution through Thanksgiving giving Congress some breathing room to complete fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations, the Senate Appropriations Committee has finally made progress in approving a number of its annual appropriations bills. COSSA has released analyses of three Senate bills that fund agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences:

Full coverage of FY 2020 appropriations, including analyses of the corresponding House proposals, is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NICHD Releases 2020 Strategic Plan

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released their 2020 strategic plan, a guiding document laying out the institute’s research priorities for the next five years. Earlier this year, COSSA submitted comments on behalf of the social and behavioral science community addressing a draft version of the strategic plan.

The NICHD strategic plan lays out five main research objectives:

  • Understanding the molecular, cellular, and structural basis of development;
  • Promoting gynecologic, andrologic, and reproductive health;
  • Setting the foundation for healthy pregnancies and lifelong wellness;
  • Improving child and adolescent health and the transition to adulthood;
  • Advancing safe and effective therapeutics and devices for pregnant and lactating women, children, and people with disabilities.

The full strategic plan and more information can be found on the NICHD website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NIH Evaluates Strategy on Countering Foreign Influence in Research

On September 25, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released three reports addressing efforts to combat the prevalence of foreign influence in research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The OIG reports evaluate three tactics used in NIH’s strategy in securing research from foreign influence in institutional reporting of foreign financial interests and affiliations, reviewing financial conflicts of interest in extramural research, and securing the peer review process from foreign influence. The OIG reports each provide several recommendations to the NIH on how to improve these initiatives.

The strategy comes as a follow up to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins’ August 2018 letter to over 10,000 institutions expressing concern over foreign influence in research settings. You can find previous  coverage on a Congressional hearing concerning foreign influence at NIH on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NIH Extends Enforcement Delay of Clinical Trials Policy Until September 2021

On July 24, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a notice announcing a further delay of enforcement of clinical trials reporting requirements for NIH-funded research designated as “basic experimental studies with humans.” The enforcement date, originally extended to September of this year, has been pushed to September 24, 2021. A blog post from the NIH Office of Science Policy describes the extension as necessary to address the challenges of reporting requirements for some researchers by continuing to search for common ground with the basic science community.

The notice is the latest iteration of NIH statements relating to changes to NIH’s clinical trial policy. As previously reported, NIH has established a new definition of “clinical trials” which includes some basic behavioral and social science research and mandates new reporting requirements. COSSA previously authored a Hot Topic piece detailing how the changes would affect basic research. Due to negative reactions from the basic science community on concerns of undue burden on the researchers, NIH announced a delay in the enforcement of the clinical trials policy and issued a Request for Information (RFI) to the community on best practices for implementing the policy. Read COSSA’s previous coverage for more details.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 6), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NIH Establishes Research Network on Opioid Use Disorder in the Criminal Justice System

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced the awarding of 12 grants to form the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN), a network of institutions performing research on opioid use disorder in criminal justice settings. JCOIN will connect researchers, many of whom are social and behavioral scientists, with criminal justice stakeholders to help improve practices in responding to opioid abuse in high risk criminal justice institutions. The research institutions in JCOIN include treatment centers and universities – some of which are COSSA members. The network includes the following institutions:

  • New York State Psychiatric Institute
  • Baystate Medical Center
  • Friends Research Institute, Inc.
  • Texas Christian University
  • New York University School of Medicine
  • Brown University
  • University of Chicago
  • Chestnut Health Systems, Inc.
  • University of Kentucky
  • Yale University
  • George Mason University (as an un-funded coordinating body)

More information about JCOIN may be found on the NIDA website.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 6), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Administration Releases Updated Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Plan

On June 21, the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released a 2019 update to its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Development Plan. The first national AI R&D plan was released in 2016 and has been updated to include strategic priorities and accounts for new research and technologies in AI. The new strategic priorities include: making long-term investments in AI research; developing effective methods for human-AI collaboration; understanding and addressing the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI; ensuring the safety and security of AI systems; developing shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing; and expanding public-private partnerships to accelerate advances in AI; among others.

Artificial Intelligence is a priority of the Trump Administration and several federal research agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), have incorporated and highlighted AI research and development at their agencies. More about the NIH AI initiatives can be found on the NIH website and more about the NSF AI initiatives can be found on the NSF website.

More information about the Trump Administration’s effort on AI can be found on the White House website.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 25), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Submits Testimony to Senate in Support of Funding for NIH, CDC, ED, BLS

As it does each year, COSSA submitted outside witness testimony to the Congressional Appropriations subcommittees responsible for funding federal agencies important to the social sciences. On June 3, COSSA submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies calling for increased fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Institute for Education Sciences (IES), and International Education and Foreign Language Programs (Title VI and Fulbright-Hays).

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 11), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

House Committee Approves FY 2020 Spending for NIH, CDC, BLS, AHRQ, ED

On May 8, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill; the Labor-HHS Subcommittee advanced the bill on April 30. This bill contains annual funding proposals for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Education (ED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), among other federal departments and agencies. In a departure from what has become regular practice, the Labor-HHS bill was one of the first out the gate this year; the often-contentious bill is typically considered later in the appropriations process once more bipartisan bills have been advanced.

At a glance…

  • The House bill includes a total of $41.084 billion for NIH in FY 2020, a $2 billion or 5 percent increase over the FY 2019 level.
  • The bill includes $8.2 billion for the CDC, a $920.6 million increase above the FY 2019 enacted level and $1.7 billion above the Administration’s request for FY 2020.
  • The House bill would provide $358.2 million for AHRQ in FY 2020, a 6 percent or $20.2 million increase compared to FY 2019.
  • The bill would provide BLS with $675.8 million, an increase of $60.8 million from FY 2019.
  • Within the Department of Education, the bill would provide $650 million to the IES, which would be a 5.6 percent increase compared to its FY 2019 enacted level and 24.6 percent above the FY 2020 funding request from the Administration.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the House Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Department of Education.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

OBSSR Releases Revised Definition of “Behavioral and Social Sciences Research”

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has completed its revision of NIH’s definition of “behavioral and social sciences research” (BSSR) (see previous coverage) after crowdsourcing input from stakeholders. The new definition begins:

“Behavioral and social sciences research at the National Institutes of Health involves the systematic study of behavioral1 and social2 phenomena relevant to health3.

1“Behavioral phenomena” refers to the observable actions of individuals or groups and to mental phenomena such as knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, motivations, perceptions, cognitions, and emotions.

2“Social phenomena” refers to the interactions between and among individuals, and to the characteristics, structures, and functions of social groups and institutions, such as families, communities, schools, and workplaces, as well as the physical, economic, cultural, and policy environments in which social and behavioral phenomena occur.

3”Health” refers to state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (as per WHO).”

The complete definition is posted on the OBSSR website. In an email message announcing the revision, the Office said that “some suggestions, although not reflected in the BSSR definition, will be used to for future blog post topics to share in-depth discussion of the areas of science that are included in the BSSR at NIH.”

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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