Also in this Issue

APA Fellow Calls for More Behavioral Science Expertise At DHS; Ad Hoc Group Hears from NIH Director at Annual Meeting; New Peer Review Procedures Adopted for the Institute of Education Sciences; APA Comments on NIEHS Strategic Plan; National Advisory Child Health Council; Science Policy Teams Up With Division 14 Executive Committee for Advocacy Training; Hold the Date to Celebrate

APA Fellow Calls for More Behavioral Science Expertise At DHS

At the November meeting of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee (HSSTAC), Committee member and APA Fellow Dr. Baruch Fischhoff highlighted the need for DHS to recruit more behavioral science expertise because behavioral science is so central to the Department's mission and objectives.

SPIN readers should not be concerned that Science Policy staff have been caught in a time warp; the minutes of the meeting weren’t posted until January 3. Dr. Fischhoff was not the only one to comment on the importance of social science, as General Welch, the HSSTAC Chair, indicated the themes he intended to convey in the HSTTAC’s annual report to Congress (due 1/31/06). Among those were the notion that DHS must become a “trusted source” because of the high importance DHS places on preparedness, developing realistic expectations and public understanding that leads to confidence in its communications. General Welch echoed Dr. Fischhoff’s earlier comments and suggested “S&T has a role to play in providing both physical and social science expertise because it is both a physical and social science issue."

Ad Hoc Group Hears from NIH Director at Annual Meeting

On January 12, the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, a broad coalition advocating for NIH funding, convened its annual meeting in Washington. In his opening remarks, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni applauded the Ad Hoc Group's mission and stressed that now it is more important than ever to seek and sustain support for medical research. He also discussed his vision of medicine moving toward a new paradigm, what he calls "the three Ps: predictive, personalized, and preemptive." During the question and answer period, Dr. Zerhouni explained that the 1% cut in the FY06 budget will be applied equally across NIH, with all noncompeting grants receiving a cut of 2.35%. He stressed the importance of reducing the impact of the new budget on new investigators. Overall, the grant application success rate is projected to fall from 22% to 19.5%, assuming a constant growth rate. Dr. Zerhouni was also asked about the NIH Reauthorization, which he feels is directly mainly at better synergy and coordination at NIH. Toward that end he has established the Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives (OPASI) and a "common fund" for cross-institute initiatives, which he expects will be about 5% of the NIH budget. After Dr. Zerhouni's remarks, the coalition discussed its recent reorganization and potential messages and strategies for FY07 in closed session.

New Peer Review Procedures Adopted for the Institute of Education Sciences

The National Board for Education Sciences met on January 23-24 to discuss the Institute’s research priorities procedures. In the course of the meeting, the Board considered and eventually adopted new procedures for both the peer review for grant applications as well as the peer review of reports issued by the Institute. Arden Bement, Director of NSF, and Duane Alexander, Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), each discussed the role of education research in their respective agencies and how they could work more collaboratively with IES. While the IES research budget remained flat for FY 2006, the National Center for Education Research is currently accepting unsolicited grant applications through May 1, 2006.

APA Comments on NIEHS Strategic Plan

The Science Policy Office drafted comments on the new strategic plan published by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) at NIH. The plan appears to de-emphasize behavioral and social sciences research, which had enjoyed a new visibility at the institute in recent years thanks to an initiative on obesity and the built environment. About that initiative, Steven Breckler, PhD, Executive Director for Science, writing for APA, states, "The behavioral research community was excited about this initiative because it represented a scientific direction practically unprecedented at NIH, and reflected NIEHS’s desire to take a trans-institute leadership role in understanding behavioral interactions critical to health. We hope to be reassured that NIEHS is not backing away from that innovative leadership."

National Advisory Child Health Council

On January 26, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Advisory Council held its first meeting of the year and welcomed new Council member and psychologist Robert D. Morris, Vice President of Research and Regents at Georgia State University. NICHD Director Duane Alexander first shared the bad news with Council, indicating that the final FY 2006 appropriation for NICHD was $1.253 billion, which represents a cut of approximately $88 million for the Institute. With this level of funding, NICHD is planning to fund 1,830 research project grants, including 525 competing awards. The success rate in 2005 was similar to 2004 at around 17 percent.

Dr. Michael Weinrich, Director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), discussed the draft research priorities report, which will guide the Center for the next five years.

Dr. Gray Handley, an NICHD employee currently working in South Africa with the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), presented an overview of the NIH's contribution to the global response to HIV/AIDS in South Africa and other Southern African countries. Working with the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Handley described the challenges and successes NIH has had in training young clinical investigators in Africa, implementing aggressive behavioral and population-based prevention measures, and establishing a research project on the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices about adherence to treatment.

Science Policy Teams Up With Division 14 Executive Committee for Advocacy Training

On January 27, Geoff Mumford and Pat Kobor from the APA Science Policy Office spent a worthwhile morning with thirteen members of the Executive Committee of the Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP), also known as APA's Division 14. The members were seeking to expand their knowledge about federal advocacy as part of a long-term effort to develop and advance an advocacy agenda for industrial-organizational psychology.

The Science Policy trainers emphasized the need for the division to think about issues or federal agencies that could be the focus of advocacy attention. While it would appear that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides some minimal support for I-O research on personnel selection and human performance under stress (within the Transportation Security Administration), one could make a case that this research, as well as research on responding to crisis and crisis management, is much needed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also part of DHS.

As a first step in building relationships with their members of Congress, the SIOP participants learned about how congressional offices work, and were encouraged to take time to meet with their members of Congress during congressional recesses when the Representatives and Senators are in their home districts. The Science Policy Office will provide additional guidance to help SIOP make better connections with key members of Congress.

SIOP Executive Committee members who participated in advocacy training were: Leaetta Hough, PhD; Jeff McHenry, PhD; Lisa Finkelstein, PhD; John Cornwell, PhD; Jose Cortina, PhD; Kurt Kraiger, PhD; Adrienne Colella, PhD; Bill Macey, PhD; Janet Barnes-Farrell, PhD; Robert Dipboye, PhD; Deirdre Knapp, PhD; Eduardo Salas, PhD; and SIOP Executive Director, Dave Nershi, C.A.E.

Hold the Date to Celebrate

The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) is ten years old - and is planning an important celebratory event this summer. Scientists and the public are invited. Save the dates: June 21-22, 2006, at the Natcher Building at NIH. The first day will include plenary sessions plus a breakout session on successful behavioral and social interventions. NIH institutes will host a poster session showcasing significant behavioral and social science research that they have supported.

The second day will focus on the translation from basic science to application. The new OBSSR Strategic Plan will be presented and discussed in a three-hour town meeting. Speakers during the two-day meeting will include Elias Zerhouni, MD, Director of NIH; Norman Anderson, PhD, and Raynard Kington, MD, PhD, former directors of OBSSR; and eminent scientists including Nobel Prize winners Eric Kandel, PhD, and Daniel Kahnemann, PhD.

  • Registration information and more will soon appear on the OBSSR website