Also in this Issue

New Department of Education Grant Program Excludes Psychology; Research Society on Alcoholism Takes Treatment to the Hill; Action Alert Urges Scientists to Contact Senators to Move S. 3880; APA Signs Letter Supporting Senator McCain on Detainee Issue; House of Representatives Passes NIH Reauthorization Legislation; Division 50 Comments On ONDCP Plan; Grand Challenges of Mind and Brain at NSF; New APA Science Policy Fellow Starts Work in Executive Branch

New Department of Education Grant Program Excludes Psychology

As part of the Bush Administration and Congressional attempts to boost math and science achievement, Congress approved the new National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grant program that would provide financial assistance for third and fourth year college students already pursuing degrees in physical or life sciences, math, computer sciences, technology or engineering fields. While including cognitive science among a list of eligible majors, the Department of Education (DoEd) did not include psychology or other classifications of behavioral science. In response, APA's Executive Directors for Science and Education, Steven Breckler and Cynthia Belar, wrote to the Secretary of Education encouraging the inclusion of many areas of psychology and behavioral science and requesting a rationale for excluding instructional programs in scientific psychology. While no formal change has yet been made, the DoEd is expected to undertake a more formal rulemaking process that would allow for modifications to the list in the future.

Research Society on Alcoholism Takes Treatment to the Hill

On September 6, Dr. Ting-Kai Li, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), joined Kathleen Grant, PhD, a psychologist and the President of the Research Society on Alcoholism and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry to participate in a congressional briefing on pharmacotherapeutic advances in the treatment of alcoholism. The standing-room-only briefing (PDF, 2.4MB), promoted by Represenatives Jim Ramstad (R-MN) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Co-Chairs of the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, gave the audience an opportunity to learn about the NIAAA research portfolio and public-private partnerships that have lead to recent FDA approval of two new medications to treat alcohol dependence. Dr. Li's presentation (PPT, 700KB) addressed a variety of issues, including the NIAAA mission; the scope of health problems related to alcohol use disorders; the prevalence of dependence; definitions of treatment success; co-morbidity with other DSM-IV disorders; treatment guides (PDF, 1.6MB) developed by NIAAA; medications approved or under development; and the pharmacogenomics of personalized medicine. Dr. Grant's presentation also covered a wide range of topics such as epidemiology of alcohol use disorders across the continuum leading to dependence; the developmental trajectory of alcohol use disorders; animal vs. human models; candidate neural pathways involved; genetic and environmental determinants of the disease; and effective behavioral interventions. Representatives from Alkermes and Forest Research Institute then provided summaries of safety and efficacy data on a depot formulation of naltrexone and oral acamprosate, respectively. Representative Kennedy concluded the briefing by commending the presenters and NIAAA for their commitment to developing new pharmacotherapies, yet additionally noting the critical role that behavioral interventions play in treating substance use disorders.

Action Alert Urges Scientists to Contact Senators to Move S. 3880

The Public Policy Office emailed Action Alerts on September 13, 2006 to members of the Public Policy Action Network who live in states represented by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The purpose of the Action Alert was to encourage the targeted Senators to urge their colleague, Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), to schedule action on S. 3880, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. This bill is supported by APA, the Society for Neuroscience, and other scientific organizations that support scientists conducting research with nonhuman animals.

S. 3880, sponsored by U.S. Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK), would increase penalties for animal rights activists who destroy scientific labs and stalk scientists. The bill protects the First Amendment rights of activists, while increasing the tools of the FBI and other agencies to track and thwart the segment of the animal rights community who resort to terrorist tactics to make their point. With the congressional session rapidly coming to a close, scientific organizations like APA are strongly urging Congress to take action on this bill.

As of late September, 56 APA scientists had contacted their Senators about this issue. Although Chairman Specter has not been able to schedule a markup of the bill, we are told he has noted that the scientific community is strongly supportive of the bill. We will continue our efforts to protect scientists when the next Congress convenes in January. Thanks to all of you who took the time to contact your Senator's office -- watch SPIN for additional news about this important subject.

APA Signs Letter Supporting Senator McCain on Detainee Issue

On Friday, September 22, APA President Gerry Koocher, PhD, joined other organizations in signing a letter to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) that read, in part, "We strongly support your efforts to prevent all U.S. personnel from engaging in harmful and abusive interrogation practices and to preserve long-standing U.S. observance of the Geneva Conventions." APA weighed in on the issue as Congress continues to consider differing pieces of legislation that address prescribed structures and procedures of military commissions, as well as proscribed interrogation behaviors that could be considered war crimes.

House of Representatives Passes NIH Reauthorization Legislation

On Tuesday, September 26, the full House approved the National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006 (HR 6164), sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX). The bill was subject to a hearing and a full Committee review last week and was approved by a vote of 414-2. Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) were the sole votes against the bill. There is currently no Senate version of the legislation, and because of few remaining legislative work days, it is not clear that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will take up this issue before the 109th Congress adjourns. Congress is scheduled to leave town at the end of this week to concentrate on the fall elections, but is scheduled to reconvene in November with an agenda likely focusing on passing the remaining FY07 appropriations bills. To read more about the details of the bill, please see the September Psychological Science Agenda.

Division 50 Comments On ONDCP Plan

Following a request from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to comment on the President's 2006 National Drug Control Strategy, Division 50 Past-President (Marsha E. Bates, PhD), President (Kim Fromme, PhD), and President-elect (Nancy A. Piotrowski, PhD) drafted a timely and constructive response (PDF, 25KB). Organized to emphasize the positive, recommend improvements, and suggest additional priorities, the comments focused on eleven existing initiatives and recommended an additional two.

Grand Challenges of Mind and Brain at NSF

The July issue of SPIN described a recent NSF workshop jointly sponsored by the Biological Sciences and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorates. Although the workshop was closed to the public, a report of the meeting is now available online.

Science Policy staff is indebted to all the psychological scientists who contributed their expertise either by serving on the steering committee or by presenting as part of the Workshop Panel.

New APA Science Policy Fellow Starts Work in Executive Branch

Each year, APA's Science Directorate sponsors and places a psychologist in an executive branch research office, with the goals of: providing scientists invaluable learning experiences in research, science administration and policy; contributing to more effective uses of psychological knowledge within federal agencies; and broadening awareness about the value of the psychology-government interaction among psychologists and within the federal government. The 2006-2007 Science Policy Fellow, Dr. Kathleen Pierce, arrived in Washington in early September to complete her initial orientation organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This week, Pierce began work within a behavioral sciences directorate at the Department of Defense, where she will bring to bear her background in social psychology and her particular expertise in cultural identity.

Previous Fellows have worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health; and the National Science Foundation. For more information on the Science Policy Fellowship program, please contact Heather Kelly of APA's Public Policy Office via e-mail or 202.336.5932.