Also in this Issue

Under Tighter Budgets, Priority Setting is Underway at NICHD; Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Service Meeting; Advocating for VA Scientists; NICHD Director Testifies Before Congress; NIMH Message for Basic Behavioral Scientists; Friends of NIDA Coalition Holds Congressional Briefing; Friends of NIDA Coalition Advocates for Increase

Under Tighter Budgets, Priority Setting is Underway at NICHD

Science Policy staff attending the annual meeting in late February of the Friends of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) were able to hear directly from NICHD Director Duane Alexander how the President's FY06 budget would impact the institute. As NICHD is slated to receive an approximate increase of 0.6%, or $7 million, in the coming year, this would make it even more difficult for the institute to maintain funding at the already disheartening 14th percentile. To operate under the current budget climate, many investigators are being asked to cut their competing grants budgets by 25 percent to maintain the percentile. As the institute has also been accepting additional grants that were previously being funded by other institutes, including research on normal development and youth violence, there are increasing pressures on the institute to review its priorities. Total FY06 funding for NICHD in the President's budget is $1.278 billion.

Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Service Meeting

Members of the 2004 APA Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Service (SOMS) sought and received funds to hold a follow-up meeting here in Washington on March 1, and they were joined by Science Policy and Public Interest staff. Division 19 (Society for Military Psychology) and 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues) members developed a recommended blueprint for implementing the recently-passed Council of Representatives resolution on SOMS. The strategic plan would include opportunities for data collection on SOMS issues, professional education for military psychologists, development and dissemination of materials about SOMS for public and member consumption, professional publications, federal advocacy, and continued inter-divisional collaboration. In attendance from the Divisions were Kimberly Balsam, Robin Buhrke, Greg Herek, Robert Nichols, Steve Sellman, and Hank Taylor.

Advocating for VA Scientists

Early in March, Science and Public Policy Office staff took advantage of an annual meeting with the executive committee of the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders (AVAPL) to discuss research and advocacy goals relevant to psychologists within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Challenges for VA scientists continue to include IRB issues and flat or declining research budgets – both priorities within the Science Directorate. Stay tuned for a possible congressional briefing this Spring on the roles played by VA and military psychologists in meeting the mental health needs of deployed and returning service members, veterans, their families and communities.

NICHD Director Testifies Before Congress

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Director Duane Alexander testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (L-HHS) on March 8 regarding the FY06 budget. Also testifying on the panel was Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Children and Families (ACF) and psychologist Wade Horn. Last year, the Subcommittee requested that NICHD work with ACF to develop a research program that would result in the creation of appropriate assessments for cognitive and emotional development from birth through five years of age. These assessments could then be used in evaluating outcomes for Head Start and other programs. NICHD-funded research on this topic is expected to begin in September 2005.

NIMH Message for Basic Behavioral Scientists

In March, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) updated its website to include a message from Director Tom Insel, MD, further explaining the goals and purposes of the institute's reorganization as well as a new Frequently Asked Questions document for researchers and the public alike.

Friends of NIDA Coalition Holds Congressional Briefing

On March 15, the Friends of NIDA held a very successful briefing entitled, "Effectively Breaking the Cycle of Drugs and Crime: Research and Treatment Provide the Answers", which served to raise awareness of NIDA's Criminal Justice Addiction Treatment Services (CJDATS) research portfolio. The speakers included Nora Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who provided an overview of the NIDA criminal justice treatment research portfolio. Dexter Manley, Director of Community Outreach, Second Genesis, Inc. and a former NFL football player, shared his journey through addiction, prison, treatment, and recovery. APA Fellow Dwayne Simpson, PhD, Director of the Institute of Behavioral Research, Texas Christian University, detailed treatment research results involving partnerships between scientists, offenders and the criminal justice system. The briefing drew over 120 guests, including personal and committee staff from 50 House and Senate offices.

We were especially pleased that Congressman Patrick Kennedy (Co-Chair of the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus with Congressman Jim Ramstad), took time out of his busy schedule to provide concluding remarks on the importance of substance abuse research, funding and parity. Rep. Kennedy alluded to a comprehensive parity bill he will be introducing with Congressman Ramstad. And although that bill is still in the discussion phase, readers may be interested in Rep. Ramstad's bill H.R. 1258, the “Time for Recovery and Equal Access to Treatment in America (TREAT America) Act”, introduced March 14.

Friends of NIDA Coalition Advocates for Increase

On March 16, the Friends of NIDA (FoN) sent a letter to every Member of Congress urging support of a 6% increase in NIDA's appropriation for FY06. The letter, endorsed by thirty-one organizations, detailed NIDA accomplishments and emerging opportunities, including its developmental and treatment research portfolios.

The letter serves to initiate a Spring appropriations campaign, during which FoN will follow up by arranging group visits with appropriations committee staff in the hopes of convincing them of the good NIDA can do with increased funding. Some of the priority areas FoN will stress are captured in the report language we will recommend be included in the annual appropriations bill.