Senate Appropriations Report Highlights Many Behavioral Science Research Programs
Each year Science Policy Office staff work with members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to suggest behavioral research programs or projects that might be highlighted in the reports that accompany the legislation. There are many reasons a program could be highlighted: a congressional office might be impressed with new findings, or concerned that a particular program needs additional resources. Report language does not carry the same force of law that legislative language (language within the bill itself) does, but policymakers at federal funding agencies carefully scrutinize report language and often abide by its suggestions.
Among the institutes and programs highlighted in Senate Report 109-287 are:
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research
Basic behavioral research - page 166
OBSSR is congratulated on its tenth anniversary at NIH. The committee encourages OBSSR to continue working to build alliances among institutes that support and nurture basic behavioral and social sciences research. In particular, the Committee encourages OBSSR to partner with NIGMS and other funders of basic research to enhance support for work on methods, animal models, and the interplay of biological factors, behavioral and social influences underlying phenomena such as stress that influence multiple health conditions.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Training programs - page 134
The Committee continues to be pleased with the quality of NIGMS's training programs, particularly those that have a special focus on increasing the number of minority scientists such as the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) and Minority Biomedical Research Support programs. The Committee encourages NIGMS to continue to support these important initiatives, and is particularly pleased that NIGMS has supported biomedical career opportunities for high school and undergraduate college students in conjunction with historically black health professions schools. The Committee urges continued long-term support of this program.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Adolescent Brain Development - page 150
The Committee notes neuroimaging research by NIDA and others showing that the human brain does not fully develop until about age 25. This adds to the rationale for referring to addiction as a "developmental disease." The Committee encourages NIDA to continue its emphasis on adolescent brain development to better understand how developmental processes and outcomes are affected by drug exposure, the environment and genetics.
Drug Treatment in Criminal Justice Settings - page 150
The Committee is very concerned about the well-known connections between drug use and crime. Research continues to demonstrate that providing treatment to individuals involved in the criminal justice system significantly decreases future drug use and criminal behavior, while improving social functioning. The Committee strongly supports NIDA's efforts in this area, particularly the Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Studies (CJ-DATS).
Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse - page 151,152
The Committee notes the continued increases in the numbers of people, especially young people, who use prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Particular concern revolves around the inappropriate use of opiod analgesics – very powerful pain medications. The Committee commends NIDA for its research focus in this area, and for the new Prescription Opioid Use and Abuse in the Treatment of Pain initiative. Research targeting a reduction in prescription drug abuse, particularly among our Nation's youth, should continue to be a priority for NIDA.
National Institute of Mental Health
Psychological Impacts of Trauma - page 155, 156
The Committee is pleased that NIMH is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that psychosocial and pharmacological interventions are available to returning soldiers, veterans and their families. The Committee supports NIMH research related to the psychological impact of both acute and chronic exposure to threats of violence, including terrorism, war, natural disasters, and domestic and community violence. Within the area of trauma, particular emphasis should also be placed on vulnerable populations, such as trauma survivors, children and older adults. The Committee encourages NIMH to expand its research portfolio to include research related to psychosocial factors that promote detection or prediction, prevention, and post-exposure recovery and resilience.
Even without the force of law, the report language will still be accepted as valid if NIH and other programs in the bill are ultimately funded via a stopgap spending bill or an omnibus appropriations bill. Science Policy Office staff will continue to keep you updated about research funding legislation as the congressional session continues… watch SPIN for further details.