Also in this Issue
APA Joint Task Force on Sexual Orientation and the Military Meets in D.C.
APA's Joint Division 19 and Division 44 Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Service (SOMS) met in Washington February 27 amid a flurry of press reports and congressional action related to the Department of Defense's (DoD's) "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" law. Created by the two divisions (Society for Military Psychology and Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues) in 2005 following the report of an APA Task Force on the topic in 2004, the group has been active in providing strategic guidance to APA on the elimination of discrimination in military service based on sexual orientation.
Science Government Relations' Heather Kelly continues to staff the Task Force, along with Clinton Anderson, Director of APA's Office on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns. Heather is working with policy staff from the Public Interest Directorate to develop and disseminate advocacy materials calling for the repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell, based on behavioral research in the area and APA's policies on non-discrimination. With the recent change in leadership on Capitol Hill, congressional champions for repealing the law are taking advantage of increasing public support and looking to see legislative action on the issue. Representative Marty Meehan (D-MA) has been the foremost supporter in the House, and today, he is holding a press conference to announce plans for reintroduction of his legislation calling for a repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell. At least one high ranking former military official, retired General John M. Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lent his support for repeal in a recent editorial in the New York Times.
NIDA, NIAAA, RWJF and HBO Collaborate on Addiction Programming
In an unprecedented collaboration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and Home Box Office (HBO) have teamed-up in a multi-platform campaign to educate America about advancements in understanding drug and alcohol addiction and its treatment as a brain disease. The centerpiece is a 90 minute documentary entitled "Addiction", scheduled to air on March 15. Additional components of the campaign include fourteen supplemental programs (being completed with the support of RWJF), which will be available on HBO on Demand, multi-plex HBO channels, and through commercial, grassroots and educational DVD distribution channels. SPIN readers can also look forward to a series of articles on addiction science and treatment in USA Today leading up to the broadcast of the centerpiece show.
A number of prominent psychological scientists will be featured in the special, including Anna Rose Childress, Michael Dennis, Tom McLellan, Robert Myers, and Rick Rawson. Dr. McLellan will also be on hand to present at a Capitol Hill reception on March 1, co-sponsored by the co-chairs of the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, Representatives Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad. A new publication, entitled "Drugs, Brains and Behavior- The Science of Addiction" has been under development by NIDA for some time, and was billed as NIDA's "first consumer publication to explain the science of addiction." Its release was timed to compliment the content of the HBO special. As a follow-up activity, Science Policy staff, working on behalf of the Friends of NIDA, will be arranging delivery of a copy of the new publication to every Member of the House and Senate next month.
Friends of NIDA Hold Congressional Briefing on Drug Abuse Treatment
On February 22, the Friends of NIDA held its seventh in a series of educational briefings on Capitol Hill. Organized by APA Science Policy staff, the briefing, entitled "Drug Abuse Treatment: The Blending of Research and Practice", drew an audience of over 100, including staff from a total of 50 different House and Senate offices, and was co-sponsored by 18 scientific and professional organizations. The event focused on the issue of bridging the divide between scientific findings and their implementation and how to quicken the pace of real-world application of science-based research results. In order to accomplish this, the NIDA Research and Practice Blending Initiative has been developed, which is an innovative effort to translate research to practice and to incorporate feedback from multiple stakeholders to make the best treatments available to those who need them. Through Blending, NIDA is able to directly address the challenge of connecting the science of drug abuse and addiction to real life practice.
The distinguished panel of speakers began with a presentation by Timothy Condon, PhD, Deputy Director of NIDA, who provided an overview of the Institute's work in this crucial area. Following was a presentation by Gregory Brigham, PhD, who is Chief Research Officer at Maryhaven, a community substance abuse program in Columbus, Ohio, and a Research Scientist in the College of Medicine at the University of Cincinnati. He shared his experiences as a member of a Blending Team, which provides the tools necessary to access and adopt NIDA research protocols. Lastly, Dennis McCarty, PhD, a professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University, gave a presentation discussing his work as Principal Investigator for the Oregon Node of the Clinical Trials Network - one of 17 research centers testing emerging drug abuse treatments in community treatment settings.
We are indebted to Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D - RI) and Jim Ramstad (R - MN) for their leadership of the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus and to their dedicated staff, Rachael Bornstein and Andrew McKechnie, for their assistance with event logistics. The Friends of NIDA will continue with its briefing series by hosting another educational event on Capitol Hill in late spring or early summer.
Congress Steps in to Support the National Children's Study
In last year's budget proposal, the Bush Administration proposed eliminating the National Children's Study (NCS), leaving it to Congress to figure out how to provide funds for its continuation. With the recent passage of the joint funding resolution, Congress did just that, providing $69 million specifically for the NCS. To protect the NICHD budget from increasing NCS funding needs, Congress also transferred funding for the NCS from the NICHD to the Office of the Director, which does not impact the management of the study. On February 16, the NCS program office announced it would be holding a competition this year for additional research center sites, with the request for proposals expected to be released on February 26. But additional hurdles still exist for the NCS in the coming months. Before recruitment can begin, the study protocol has to be approved by both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget, which has once again proposed eliminating the study in the President's FY08 Budget.
NIH Loan Repayment Program Continues To Support Psychologists
Amid continuing concerns about deteriorating support for federal science programs that aid in the training of minorities, Science Policy Office staff are busy gathering data to support a renewed advocacy strategy. But even if the overall picture looks disheartening, there is some relatively good news to report. Since the inception of the NIH's Loan Repayment Program (LRP), Science Policy Office staff have worked with the NIH Director's Office to track the success of psychologists competing for those funds. In addition to requesting this data, this year we also asked for a breakdown of the minority status of psychologist awardees. Because the LRP programs support both new awards and renewals (for as long as the students have eligible debt), the values for individual programs in this table represent the total number of psychologists in the various programs (new awards and renewals) for any given year. However, a breakdown of the "new" and "renewal" awards appears at the far left under "Totals". Perhaps not surprisingly, psychologists continue to be essentially absent in the area of contraception and fertility research, but continue to play an important role across the four other programs, making up an average of 22 percent of the awardees. Importantly, of that 22 percent, 25 percent were minorities in 2006. The next application cycle will begin September 1, 2007. For more information see the NIH Loan Repayment Programs website.
NICHD Director Shares Good News and Bad News
On February 22, Duane Alexander, MD, Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, met with the Friends of NICHD, a coalition of more than one hundred organizations co-chaired by APA's Karen Studwell. Although the institute's budget remains level at $1.2 billion, there are reasons to be optimistic about NICHD funding opportunities in FY07. In the coming year, the institute plans to fund an additional ninety competing grants, as $35 million shifts from funding non-competing grants that have been completed. This translates to a shift in the payline from close to the 11th percentile to near the 17th percentile overall. For young investigators, the news is even better, as the NIH-wide effort to fund 1500 new investigators means NICHD alone plans to fund 80 new investigators through R01s or R03s, with paylines closer to the 20th percentile.
Opportunities for Violence Prevention Research at the CDC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to operate under budget constraints, but according to Director Rodney Hammond, PhD, psychological scientists are faring well within the agency's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control's Division of Violence Prevention. During a recent meeting with Steve Breckler, APA's Executive Director for Science, Dr. Hammond explained that eighty percent of its budget is spent on extramural research, providing rich opportunities for psychologists interested in conducting research in violence prevention and translating basic research into interventions that have a real impact on public health. Ongoing research topics for the division include child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual violence and suicide. New research projects for FY07 include evaluating family and dyadic-focused IPV interventions, maximizing protective factors for youth violence, suicide prevention, abusive head trauma prevention, and understanding bullying and sexual violence perpetration and their joint outcomes factors.