Also in this Issue

Science Leadership Conference Says "TGI Friday"; Psychologists Look Forward at Close of SciLC; New NIH Planning Office Generates Comment from Behavioral, Social Science Coalition; Congressional Champions Go On Record for NIDA; Congressional Negotiations Continue on Defense Bills; Science Education and Investment in Innovation Getting Federal Attention; NIH Budget Cuts Expected as FY 2006 L-HHS Appropriations Moves Forward; Russell Jones to Discuss Disaster Relief on Capitol Hill

Science Leadership Conference Says "TGI Friday"

National Public Radio's program, "Science Friday", is acknowledged to be the one of the finest live discussions of serious science issues broadcast anywhere, so it was a thrill for the APA Science Directorate when the show agreed to broadcast live from the Science Leadership Conference. The arrangements took several months to complete. A number of logistical issues had to be settled: first, we had to find a 'broadcast ready' location near the Conference hotel that could seat two to three hundred people, and we were fortunate to book the Grosvenor Auditorium at the National Geographic Society for the broadcast.

Second, APA Science Directorate and Public Policy staff looked at the participant list for the conference and gave "Science Friday" seven ideas for good show topics, around which the meeting could offer key experts. The Science Friday producers chose "Gender Differences in Cognition" and "Stress and Health." While we provided some information about the topic and participants, the producers had final say over the topics and participants in the broadcast, and did a great deal of research on their own to brief Ira Flatow so he could ask good questions.

A third logistical challenge was inviting local high school psychology classes to attend the broadcast. Several almost came; a couple agreed to attend and then had to cancel; but we were all delighted to have Sheryl Freedman's Advanced Placement psychology students from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, attend the broadcast. The students asked a lot of questions, particularly during the second hour of the show. Georgetown Preparatory High School was also represented. The Science Directorate staff enjoyed preparing "goody bags" for the high school students, including things like pens, pads and water bottles from the Science Leadership Conference and information about the Decade of Behavior.

To listen to the broadcast, go the Science Friday website and click the show broadcast on December 2, 2005. For those in the studio audience, it was exciting to watch the show happen 'live.' Ira Flatow teased psychologists in the audience about usually making statements instead of asking questions. The show's producers took calls from around the country and put them through to Mr. Flatow when the audience questions slowed down.

We thank all the nice people at National Public Radio, the National Science Foundation (whose support made it possible for Science Friday to travel to DC from their usual base in New York), Science Friday, and the National Geographic Society for the many efforts that made the broadcast possible.

Psychologists Look Forward at Close of SciLC

On Saturday evening, December 4, senior staff of the Science Directorate worked with the Chair of the Board of Scientific Affairs, Roberta “Bobby” Klatzky, to digest two day's worth of Science Leadership breakout group flipcharts. The flipcharts and edited notes taken by dedicated breakout session computer scribes revealed several preliminary action items which were compiled by Executive Director for Science Steve Breckler and presented to conference attendees on Sunday morning. Organized by breakout session theme, these action items were meant to serve as first impressions (a more detailed assessment is underway), but a few that may be of particular interest to SPIN readers include recommendations that APA:

  • Prepare white papers or accessible guides to help address public misconceptions about general research/science issues for use in advocacy as a proactive step in advance of future attacks on psychological research.

  • Provide gratis subscriptions of APA journals to selected high profile media outlets to make the research more accessible and initiate a formal public education campaign for scientific psychology.

  • Produce a comprehensive APA guide to help psychologists navigate Institutional Review Board issues akin to what the APA Style Manual has become for the publishing world.

  • Increase the number of Science Policy staff!

New NIH Planning Office Generates Comment from Behavioral, Social Science Coalition

In the Federal Register of September 22, 2005, NIH announced a reorganization of its science policy and planning offices. The new office, called the Office of Program Analysis and Strategic Initiatives (OPASI), was established to serve as the infrastructure for a trans-NIH priority setting and strategic planning effort. OPASI will identify and integrate information to support the planning and implementation of trans-NIH initiatives. NIH Director Elias Zerhouni's "Roadmap" initiative was the prototype. OPASI is being established to identify and fund future generations of "roadmap" initiatives whose purposes and benefits cross institute and center boundaries. A common fund is being established (1.1 percent of total NIH funds in Fiscal Year 2006, growing, under certain budget conditions, to 5 percent of the total NIH budget) to fund the initiatives that will emerge from an elaborate planning process.

Raynard Kington, MD, PhD, Deputy Director of NIH, shared details of the planning process at the fall meeting of the Advisory Council to the NIH Director. (See his powerpoint presentation). In a year-long cycle, NIH institutes, programmatic offices, and stakeholders (such as scientific associations and patient groups) suggest potential trans-NIH research initiatives. The initiatives are evaluated by several bodies, including the NIH Council of Councils (representatives from each of the NIH institute and center advisory councils) and a steering committee of several NIH directors. The Advisory Committee to the NIH Director recommends the final set of initiatives to the NIH Director. It is anticipated that the initiatives will be funded on a 4-5 year cycle, so after a start-up period, between 20 and 25 percent of the fund would become available for new initiatives each year.

APA and fellow behavioral and social science organizations have closely followed this process to examine whether there will be sufficient consultation of, and input from, the behavioral sciences. Since NIH growth is slowing dramatically, representation of these sciences in the common pool of funds for trans-NIH initiatives is very important to success within NIH. See the letter to Dr. Kington from the Coalition for the Advancement of Health Through Behavioral and Social Science Research (CAHT-BSSR), which Science Policy staff co-chair. Among the letter's suggestions is that at least one institute director on the Steering Committee be familiar with and supportive of behavioral sciences, and that the Director of OBSSR be included in the planning and vetting of proposals to ensure that behavioral expertise is at the table. OPASI is still being established, but APA intends to monitor the process carefully to ensure a level playing field in the selection of and planning for trans-NIH initiatives. For more information, please contact Pat Kobor in the Science Policy Office.

Congressional Champions Go On Record for NIDA

As a follow-on to the Friends of NIDA briefing on HIV research held in October, and as an adjunct to the new NIDA Public Service Announcement (PSA) targeting drug use and HIV, the Friends of NIDA coalition worked with prominent members of Congress, encouraging them to go on record about the value of NIDA’s HIV research portfolio. Two Champions of substance abuse research stepped up to the plate and did so for the Congressional Record. The Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Addiction, Treatment and Recovery, a long time ally of the Friends  and host of each of our three scientific briefings on Capitol Hill this year, Congressman Jim Ramstad applauded NIDA’s efforts on December 6.

Likewise, Congressman Danny Davis, Secretary of the Congressional Black Caucus, discussed the combined toll drug abuse and HIV are taking on the nations youth. The Friends of NIDA will be distributing copies of these remarks, DVD’s of the PSA, and NIDA’s recent HIV report to all Members of the House and Senate early next month.

Congressional Negotiations Continue on Defense Bills

Science Policy staff advocate each year for psychological science support within the Department of Defense (DoD) authorization and appropriations bills in Congress. As previously reported in SPIN, the Fiscal Year 2006 defense bills have been undergoing tough conference negotiations between the House and Senate and intense pressure from the White House because of language in the Senate version of each bill (added by Sen. John McCain) which would prohibit cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of U.S. detainees and call for uniform standards for interrogations. APA is on record with members of the congressional appropriations subcommittees in support of Sen. McCain's amendment. In October, the Senate passed the McCain legislation with a 90 to 9 vote. This week, the House voted 308 to 122 in support of McCain's proposal, another majority vote strong enough to override a presidential veto. Shortly thereafter, White House negotiators reached a compromise with McCain, and the President announced his support of the measure.

Negotiations on the defense appropriations bill, which provides funds to DoD, continue within an informal conference of bipartisan subcommittee leadership. The defense authorization bill, which sets programmatic and funding guidelines for the Department, is being worked out in a small conference of Armed Services Committee leaders from both chambers. With the controversy over the McCain amendment resolved, it's likely that the appropriations bill will be signed into law soon. However, the authorization bill does not carry the same "must pass" status, and it's future is less certain.

Science Education and Investment in Innovation Getting Federal Attention

'Tis the season…to be talking about science education, infrastructure and innovation around Washington. On December 9, Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and John Ensign (R-NV) briefed congressional staff and the science community on plans to introduce the National Innovation Act of 2005, in response to recommendations of the Council on Competitiveness in its National Innovation Initiative Report. In brief, the legislation focuses on three major goals: 1) research investment; 2) increasing science and technology talent; and 3) developing an innovation infrastructure. The bill would establish a Presidential Council on Innovation, encourage federal agencies to devote 3% of their research and development (R&D) budgets to "high-risk frontier research," authorize a huge increase in research funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), and substantially expand training programs at NSF and the Department of Defense.

Also last week, House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) responded to a request of the National Science Board (NSB, the independent board with oversight over NSF) to testify before an NSB panel on the creation of a commission to study science education in the U.S. Chairman Boehlert, long a champion of NSF and research more broadly, noted his recent sponsorship with Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) of an Innovation Summit, and his support for the recently-released National Academy report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm". This report makes several recommendations, including increasing the number of K-12 science and mathematics teachers, increasing the federal investment in basic research by 10% per year over the next seven years, increasing the number of U.S. citizens earning science and engineering degrees, and improving visa processing. In his testimony before the NSB, Boehlert reiterated his support for increasing research funding and improving science education, but stressed that any science education commission must focus strongly on the role of NSF and provide "clear and very specific guidance about what activities NSF should be undertaking." Science Policy staff will monitor both of these initiatives to ensure that psychological science maintains a strong presence.

NIH Budget Cuts Expected as FY 2006 L-HHS Appropriations Moves Forward

On Tuesday, December 13, the House narrowly passed a revised conference agreement that funds the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (H.R. 3010). While the Senate was expected to pass the bill by Friday, as the week went on, it became less likely that the Senate would successfully approve the conference agreement. On Friday, with all Senate Democrats, Independents and a number of Republicans planning to vote against the final FY 2006 spending legislation, Senator Arlen Specter said they would plan to attach the conference report to the FY2006 Defense Appropriations bill. After the House defeated the first conference agreement in November, congressional negotiators shifted funds in the bill to provide additional funding for rural health programs and health professions to satisfy the twenty two House Republicans who voted against the initial version. However, the revised legislation still cuts or freezes many health and education programs and provides the lowest increase to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), less than one percent, in more than thirty years. That increase may also prove to be fleeting. While the current spending bill reflects a 0.9 percent increase for NIH, bringing its budget to $28.617 billion, Congress is also expected to approve an across-the-board cut to all non-defense spending as part of the Defense Appropriations before leaving town until next year. That cut of approximately one percent would essentially wipe out any increases to the NIH in FY 2006, and would reduce all other health and education programs. For those seeking some positive news, House and Senate conferees did agree to remove language from the original House bill that would have rescinded funding from two NIH-funded and peer-reviewed psychological research grants.

Russell Jones to Discuss Disaster Relief on Capitol Hill

On January 19, APA Fellow Russell Jones, PhD, will participate in a congressional briefing co-sponsored by APA entitled: "Public Health 101: The Public Health Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - Applying Lessons Learned".

Dr. Jones recently became a consultant to the Disaster Technical Assistance Center at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). His recent trauma-related efforts include: presenting at the Consensus Conference, Psychological Risk Factors for Children and Adolescents Following Natural and Technological Disasters. Early Trauma Responses and Psychopathology: Theoretical and Empirical Directions, sponsored by NIMH and serving as moderator at the Anxiety Disorders Association of America Consensus Conference on Acute Posttraumatic Reactions. He is a member of the Terrorism and Disaster Branch of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. He was deployed as the team leader for a group of mental health consultant assigned to Gulf Port Mississippi and recently served as a presenter at workshops entitled: Helping Students Recover from Traumatic Events Workshops for Teachers and Administrators sponsored by the Department of Education. In addition he was appointed to the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group administered by the Department of Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Jones received his PhD from Penn State University and completed his clinical internship at Brown University. He also holds a secondary appointment at Yale University at the Child Study Center.