Also in this Issue
House Appropriations Testimony
Last month, APA's Steven Breckler testified before the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee where he addressed the proposed FY08 budgets for NSF and NASA. On behalf of APA, Breckler urged the subcommittee to support the President's FY08 request of $6.43 billion for NSF, and to implement plans for doubling the NSF budget over the next 10 years. He also recommended funding NASA at $18.3 billion in FY08, and in particular, restoring support for the human-centered NASA research programs to their FY06 levels, at a minimum. You can view the complete text of Breckler's testimony (PDF, 30KB) from APA's website. Science GRO's Elizabeth Hoffman and Heather Kelly are actively lobbying both chambers of Congress for continued investment in these two agencies.
Psychologists Selected to Serve on IOM Prevention Committee
On May 14, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) held the first meeting of the Board of Children, Youth, and Families Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth, and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. In December, APA Science Government Relations staff had coordinated the solicitation of Committee member nominations and several APA member psychologists were subsequently selected to serve. At the IOM’s invitation, the Government Relations staff of the Public Interest Directorate arranged for Dr. Barry Anton to provide a statement (PDF, 58KB) on behalf of APA at the meeting. Various Government Relations staff contributed background material in preparation for the meeting, including pertinent research highlights from several of the relevant NIH Institutes. During his remarks, Dr. Anton raised a number of issues, such as that: stigma can block access to mental health care (especially in the military); mental health care should be a routine part of physical health care; mental health services are fragmented and thus create barriers; and APA advocates extensively on prevention issues on Capitol Hill.
Friends of NICHD Highlight Rehabilitation Research
On May 15, the Friends of NICHD (Friends) sponsored a conference call with National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) Director Michael Weinrich, MD, and nearly 20 Friends Coalition members. Weinrich stated that 80 percent of their $109 million budget goes to supporting investigator-initiated research and provided an overview of some of the Center’s current research projects in prosthetics, robotics, and studies being conducted through the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Clinical Trials Network. NCMRR also supports a portfolio of behavioral research, including longitudinal studies and surveys of quality of life. APA’s Karen Studwell, who co-chairs Friends, asked Weinrich to discuss other potential behavioral research topics, and he replied that the Center is also interested in projects that examine how disabilities affect one’s participation in their community, how patients and their families respond to illness and/or treatments, and how scientists can improve the adherence and maintenance of treatment programs.
For more information about NCMRR and their research programs, please visit the NICHH website.
NASA Workforce Hearing
On May 17, the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held a hearing to learn about strategies for ensuring a viable and sustainable NASA workforce. NASA is poised to develop a human space transportation system for the first time in over 25 years, and the agency's workforce is approaching retirement age, with comparatively few entry-level workers (25-29 year age range) who can build the necessary experience to contribute to the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). Witnesses issued their recommendations for ensuring a vital NASA workforce in the 21st century.
One of the witnesses was Dr. Lee Stone, a human factors psychologist at NASA Ames Research Center and representative of the NASA Council of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
In his testimony, Stone voiced concern about Administrator Griffin's plans for workforce realignment with significant reduction of a civil service component and termination based on retirement eligibility. He noted that a diminution of older workers robs the agency of its institutional memory and experience.
Stone also said that NASA's expanding responsibilities, including an expensive space exploration mission, are not being met with an appropriate funding allotment, and that Congress should reverse the trend in budget cuts to aeronautics and exploration programs in order for the agency's missions to remain solvent. He went on to say that "NASA is not facing a workforce crisis; it is facing a fiscal crisis." Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA) asked Stone from where he thought the money should come. Stone replied that the military has over $22 billion for the space program and that Congress should leverage those funds for NASA. "If you tell NASA what to do, you need to give it money; if there's not enough money, then you need to tell NASA what not to do," Stone added.
Funding for the aeronautics program, which includes human factors research, has gone down substantially since 2004.
APA Fellow Delivers Defense Research Testimony on the Hill
On May 16, APA Fellow Bill Strickland, PhD, former Director of the Air Force Human Resources Lab and current Vice President of the Human Resources Research Organization, delivered APA's oral testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Strickland and other witnesses each were given four minutes to present funding recommendations related to the Department of Defense (DoD) for FY 2008 before the Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI). Longer, written versions of the requests had been submitted earlier in the month for the record. APA's testimony highlighted the need to restore proposed Administration cuts to DoD research programs, protect an important counterintelligence behavioral research program potentially slated for extinction, and increase support for the Center for Deployment Psychology (developed out of an APA/DoD collaboration). Following Strickland's testimony, Chairman Inouye emphasized the subcommittee's strong historical support of psychology, particularly within DoD.
IOM Report on Tobacco
On May 24, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Committee on Reducing Tobacco Use, which includes psychologist members, issued a groundbreaking report titled “Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation.” Among other recommendations, the report specifically calls on Congress to enact pending, bipartisan legislation granting the FDA authority over tobacco products. It states that incremental reforms will not end the nation’s tobacco problem and that a more fundamental shift must occur in order to end the public health burden of tobacco use.
For years, Science Government Relations staff have been keeping a close eye on the issue of FDA tobacco regulation. As SPIN readers may have noticed from a January article outlining the new majority’s tobacco agenda and a February article summarizing a hearing on legislation to regulate tobacco, this topic has heated up substantially in the 110th Congress.
The next step for moving the legislation forward is to persuade Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, to schedule a hearing on HR 1108, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. It is additionally crucial that the bill have the support of as many Committee members as possible to ensure that it reaches the House floor. In an effort to achieve these goals, Science GRO’s Anne Bettesworth coordinated an action alert directed at APA members who live in the districts of Energy and Commerce Committee members who are not yet cosponsors of the bill. For those of you who received the alert and took action—we thank you! Every constituent call and email is extremely helpful.
APA continues to be active within PARTNERS, a coalition of over 60 national organizations committed to reducing and preventing death and disease by tobacco use. Through the coalition’s excellent leadership, as well as strong advocacy efforts by member organizations, considerable bipartisan support for this legislation has been secured. Cosponsors of the House bill (HR 1108) now total 169, while the Senate bill (S 625) has 47 cosponsors.
Friends of NIDA Sends Science to the Hill
On May 29, Science Government Relations staff arranged for delivery of NIDA’s new publication “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction” to every Member of Congress on behalf of the Friends of NIDA coalition. The publication is a distillation of NIDA research results suitable for a lay audience. Organized as a Q&A, it has been designed to help people understand why individuals become addicted to drugs and how drugs change the brain to foster compulsive drug abuse.
Distribution of the publication to the Hill is part of an on-going public education campaign that will continue on June 27 with a briefing (PDF, 22KB) in the House on co-occurring disorders. The event features APA member Pat Flynn, who is Deputy Director of the Institute of Behavioral Research at Texas Christian University. On June 25, Friends of NIDA will hold its annual meeting for all interested constituent groups at 11:00 am in the 6th floor boardroom at APA headquarters (contact Anne Bettesworth for additional details). Dr. Volkow will join the meeting to provide an update on NIDA activities and to answer questions from the group. Lunch will be served toward the end of the meeting.
Time Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences Partners with DHS
Time Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS) is principally a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded platform for conducting population-based survey research. The project is lead by political psychologist Diana Mutz and political scientist Arthur Lupia. And although TESS accepts proposals on a rolling schedule throughout the year, they have issued a special request for proposals with a deadline of July 1. This round will focus on three substantive areas of interest to the Department of Homeland Security: 1) risk communication and its effects on disaster preparedness; 2) government and individual attributions of responsibility and perceived responsiveness; and 3) inter-group threat and cooperation. While those are the primary foci, the website does indicate that “other areas of research with relevance to terrorism, disaster preparedness, or the public health and public policy consequences of terrorism and of man-made and natural disasters will also be considered.” For full details, visit the TESS website.
Behavioral-Social Science Advocacy Coalition Submits Testimony on NIH
The Coalition for the Advancement of Science Through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (CAHT-BSSR), comprised of several behavioral and social science professional societies and advocacy organizations, submitted testimony to the House of Representatives and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, which draft the funding bills for the National Institutes of Health.
In the statement, CAHT-BSSR makes a strong case for the importance of behavioral and social sciences research and recommends a 6.7 percent increase for the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and the NIH overall.
The testimony states, in part:
"The Administration’s budget proposal [for the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research] for FY 2008 is $25.9 million, a reduction of $ 200 thousand below the FY 2007 funding level. In FY 2008, OBSSR plans to work with the 27 NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) to initiate two new programs. The first program is in the area of health disparities. The Behavioral and Social Science Contributions to Understanding and Reducing Health Disparities will be designed to support trans-disciplinary research involving teams of behavioral, social, and biomedical scientists, on prevention, policy, and health care. The research program will emphasize both basic research on the behavioral, social, and biomedical pathways, giving rise to disparities in health and applied research on the development, testing, and delivery of interventions to reduce disparities in the areas of policy, prevention, and health care. The second initiative planned by OBSSR is in the area of Genes, Behavior and the Social Environment. OBSSR plans to work across the institutes and centers to consider the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s report, Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment, Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate, commissioned by OBSSR, along with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). The report identifies gaps in knowledge and barriers to that hamper the integration of social, behavioral, and genetic research. CAHT-BSSR supports an increase of 6.7 percent for OBSSR, commensurate with our support of an overall increase of 6.7 percent for the NIH."
CAHT-BSSR is co-chaired by Angela Sharpe of the Consortium of Social Science Associations and Pat Kobor of the APA Science Government Relations Office. The CAHT-BSSR web site, which lists coalition members, testimony, and other information, can be found on the COSSA website.