Also in this Issue
Look for these Public Policy-Related Events at the APA Convention!
Symposium: Sexual Orientation and Military Service - Challenges and Opportunities for Psychologists (Friday, July 30th; 11:00-11:50 am; Hawaii Convention Center, Level 3, Meeting Room 306A)
Symposium: Opportunities and Challenges for Psychologists in the Public Policy Arena - Perspectives of APA Congressional and Executive Branch Fellows (Saturday, July 31st; 10:00-11:50 am; Hawaii Convention Center, Level 3, Meeting Room 302B)
Division 19 Hospitality Suite Discussion: APA's Science Public Policy Office update on psychological research related to the military and the federal legislative outlook (Saturday, July 31st; 10:00-10:50 am; Division 19 Hospitality Suite)
Supporting Scientific Integrity and Freedom in Behavioral Health Research: Researchers and APA Science Policy Staff will be discussing recent congressional inquiries into scientific research at the National Institutes of Health. (Saturday, July 31st, 12:00-1:50 am; Hawaii Convention Center, Level 3- Meeting Room 320)
Mark Frank, PhD, a member of APA's Division 8 and Division 41, was APA's presenter at the Coalition for National Science Funding Exhibit and Reception on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 22nd. The Public Policy Office and the Science Directorate invited Dr. Frank to present his research before a Congressional audience at this annual event highlighting stellar research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Frank's work represents a cutting-edge collaboration with computer scientists designed to drastically improve computer programs' ability to detect deception from facial expressions. His discussion of potential applications to the homeland security area drew particular interest from Members of Congress and executive branch science luminaries in attendance, including: Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH; chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NIH); Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI; a physicist and member of the House Science Committee); Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC; member of the House Select Homeland Security Committee); Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD; member of the House Science and Armed Services Committees); John Marburger, PhD, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Arden Bement, PhD, Acting Director of NSF.
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
On June 24th, Science Policy staff attended a day-long meeting designed to forge collaborations between operational staff working in the intelligence community and scientists conducting research on interpersonal deception. Generously funded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the meeting was held near RAND headquarters in Arlington, VA and was facilitated by RAND policy analyst Scott Gerwehr. Gerwehr provided a conceptual framework for the meeting while Susan Brandon, Assistant Director of Social, Behavioral and Educational Sciences for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and APA Science Policy Director Geoff Mumford concentrated on the logistics of inviting the particpants representing, the FBI, US Secret Service, CIA, DoD, Department of Homeland Security, UK Ministry of Defense, New Scotland Yard, and the UK Home Office as well as a long list of academic institutions.
Gerwehr's notion was essentially the reverse of a previous workshop conducted as a joint CIA/RAND/APA exercise on the theme of detecting deception as he explains in the concept piece here.
Provided with that background, presentations were grouped thematically with Scott serving as facilitator throughout: 1) Interpersonal deception & deception detection: operational challenges; 2) Technological advances; behavioral challenges; 3) Empirical & ethical challenges.
It's not clear yet how we'll report out on the proceedings of this meeting, but look for a more comprehensive overview somewhere down the road. It is likely however, that this and our previous workshop on detecting deception (July 2003), will serve as a spring board for some Congressionally mandated workshops outlined in the "Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004" (PL 108-177, see TITLE III, Subtitle E, Section 375). NSF received the full $500,000.00 that was authorized, and Dr. Wanda Ward (NSF) and Dr. Susan Brandon (OSTP) will be coordinating the development of the workshops.
National Children's Study Adopts National Probability Sampling Strategy
As we have previously reported, the NCS is a proposed longitudinal study of 100,000 children looking at the physical, social and behavioral environmental influences on their health and development. The National Children’s Study Advisory Committee (NSCAC) met June 28-29 to reach consensus on the design and sampling strategy for the study. After a two-day discussion of possible sampling strategies and feasibility concerns, the NSCAC recommended that the NCS program office pursue a national probability design. The following day, APA’s Executive Director for Science Steve Breckler met with Duane Alexander, Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to reiterate the importance of having a nationally representative sample to the behavioral science community. On July 9, the NCS program office announced that the study would be moving forward with a probability based sampling design. In the coming months, additional progress is expected in protocol development and pilot studies. APA staff will continue to monitor the planning and implementation process as it moves forward.
Deborah Phillips, a developmental psychologist and member of the NSCAC, also presented an overview of some of the hypotheses that the working group on healthy development would propose for the study, including hypotheses that focus on school readiness and its association to family work patterns, child care situations, parental depressive illness as well as positive health behaviors in adolescence.
New Acting Chief Research and Development Officer Comes on Board at the VA
On July 5, Stephan Fihn, MD, MPH, became the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) acting Chief Research and Development Officer. Fihn replaced the VA's Under Secretary for Health, Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, who had taken on the additional job responsibilities in an acting capacity following the departure of Nelda Wray, MD from the post in December of 2003. Wray officially resigned from the VA on May 31st to return to Baylor University, in the wake of a report from the VA's Inspector General which found that Wray and some of her staff had improperly used $1.7 million of VA funds. Fihn most recently has been head of the Division of General Internal Medicine for the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and Director of the Northwest VA Health Services Research and Development Center.
Have You Supported Scientific Integrity Today?
APA's public policy staff have been working for more than a year preparing for a repeat of last year's battle over federal funding for sexual health research. During the 2003 debate, Rep. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) offered an amendment on the bill that funds the National Institutes of Health that sought to rescind funding for five peer-reviewed grants studying sexual behaviors and development. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the bill funding NIH and other agencies, making it likely that the House will consider the bill in early September. APA and members of the Coalition to Protect Research are gearing up for a possible House amendment likely to be offered and are meeting with congressional staff to share the concerns of the scientific community. To show the community's support for peer review and scientific integrity, advocates are sharing the CPR petition supporting scientific integrity, signed by more than 3,400 scientists, with Members of Congress. We encourage you to sign the petition to let your voice be heard on this issue and to contact your member of congress to encourage their support for the National Institutes of Health. Stay tuned for action alerts if there are any amendments seeking to restrict peer-reviewed research offered on the bill during the upcoming House debate.
Making New Friends on Capitol Hill
Science Policy staff worked with Linda Hay Crawford at Therapeutic Communities of America to organize the debut event for the new Friends of NIDA coalition on Capitol Hill. Twenty organizations representing those with interests in the basic science, prevention and treatment of substance abuse pitched in to co-sponsor the event on July 14. NIDA Director Nora Volkow, MD was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to lead the standing-room only crowd through an hour-long presentation of cutting edge substance abuse research findings. Dr. Volkow highlighted NIDA priority areas as they relate to prevention, including genetics, development, environment and co-morbidity, as well as treatment research priorities in medications development and behavior. She reviewed three roadblocks that are inhibiting progress on those fronts. One, a lack of interest by pharmaceutical industry in developing new medications to treat drug abuse/dependence in large part because of the stigma associated with drug abuse and lack of appropriate incentives to pursue new pharmacotherapies. Two, the difficulty in translating research from the bench to the bedside to the community and NIDA's attempts to bridge that gap with the Clinical Trials Network. Three, the reluctance of primary care health providers to address substance abuse with their patients and to examine the relationship between substance abuse and other medical disorders. The audience, estimated at around 100, included representatives of the co-sponsoring organizations and many interested congressional staff. We are extremely grateful to Congressmen Ramstad (R-MN) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) for providing a room for the event and for their overall leadership as Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, described in a "Dear Colleague" letter made available at the briefing.
House Appropriations Committee Approves Spending Bill for HHS-Education Programs
Legislation to set spending levels for research funded by the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Education moved a little closer to passage this week. The House Appropriations Committee approved a nearly $500 billion version of the fiscal 2005 bill that will fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education.