Also in this Issue

APA Leads Coalition Efforts to Boost Funding for NICHD; APA Provides FY 2009 Funding Recommendations for NSF, NASA and NIJ; Celebrating Changes at the Institute of Education Sciences; NHTSA Review of Driver Distraction Research Released; NIMH Hosts Annual Research Progress Meeting; Rep. Brian Baird Holds Joint Hearing on Behavioral Science with Armed Services Subcommittee; Workshop on FERPA Regulatory Requirements; APA Submits Written Testimony on Federal Health and Education Funding

APA Leads Coalition Efforts to Boost Funding for NICHD

The Friends of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), chaired by Karen Studwell of APA’s Science GRO, continued their advocacy efforts on behalf of a 6.6 percent increase for the National Institutes of Health and the NICHD this month. In March, the Friends submitted testimony to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee supporting their request. In April, the coalition met with 14 members of the House and Senate appropriations staff to reiterate the importance of providing adequate funding for biomedical and behavioral research and the critical role that the institute plays in improving our knowledge of children’s health and development, women’s health, population and demographics, and medical rehabilitation. In May, the Coalition will also sponsor a congressional briefing on the cutting edge research the institute funds in intellectual and developmental disabilities, which will include a presentation by APA member and Division 33 President Steven Warren, Director of the University of Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center.

APA Provides FY 2009 Funding Recommendations for NSF, NASA and NIJ

It’s federal appropriations season here in Washington, and in April, Science GRO staff provided official written testimony to both the House and Senate regarding Fiscal Year 2009 funding recommendations for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Science GRO advocates on Capitol Hill for behavioral research at all three of these agencies – both in terms of funding and research infrastructure needs – and our testimony highlighted the stellar psychological science supported by each. All three agencies saw cuts in funding during the Fiscal Year 2008 cycle, and APA continues to educate Members of Congress about resulting losses in scientific progress, innovation, and mission applications as next year’s appropriations process gets underway.

Celebrating Changes at the Institute of Education Sciences

Delivering what was likely his last address at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in March, Institute of Education Science (IES) Director and psychologist Grover “Russ” Whitehurst shared some of the highlights of his seven-year tenure at the institute. In the list were accomplishments that sought to increase the scientific culture and rigor at the institute, including: increasing the numbers of highly-trained scientific staff; adopting a new peer review process and peer review panels; establishing a predictable schedule of research competitions; publishing its priorities with input from the National Board on Education Sciences; redesigning the ERIC Clearinghouse; developing state-wide longitudinal data systems to track individual student achievement; and creating the What Works Clearinghouse to help practitioners evaluate educational programs. Speaking as an individual rather than the IES Director, Whitehurst also shared some of the continuing challenges for education researchers, such as the continuing disconnect between research and policy and the need for improved designs and methods for research that seeks to inform policy.

NHTSA Review of Driver Distraction Research Released

On April 17, a long-awaited review of driver distraction research was released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report follows a multi-year effort by APA and allied organizations to drive a synthesis of research. APA has been working with Congressman James Moran (D-VA) and his staff to energize the NHTSA effort and generate a letter requesting the report. The report’s release is timely given that there was recently a briefing on driver safety sponsored by APA and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and organized by the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences.

NIMH Hosts Annual Research Progress Meeting

On April 18, NIMH held its annual Professional Coalition for Research Progress meeting at The Dana Foundation in Washington, DC. Dr. Steve Breckler, Executive Director for Science, attended the meeting on behalf of APA. NIMH Director, Dr. Tom Insel, gave an update of NIMH news and research following welcoming comments by Dana Foundation Chairman, William Safire. Genome wide association studies continue to be among the Institute’s top research priorities, as do studies of genes x environment interactions in mental disorders. As of February, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, and depression topped the list of mental disorders that have been linked with specific genes. Insel noted that it is challenging to keep up with the continual influx of new data. Dr. Robert Ursano of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) spoke about PTSD and traumatic stress in public health and disasters, war, and trauma. Drs. Sue Swedo and Robert Heinssen, both NIMH intramural investigators, presented clinical research updates on autism and schizophrenia, respectively.

For more NIMH news, please visit the NIH website.

Rep. Brian Baird Holds Joint Hearing on Behavioral Science with Armed Services Subcommittee

On April 24, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA; member of APA) joined with his colleague Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) to hold a joint hearing of the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education and House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities. The two Subcommittees have oversight over research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Defense (DoD), respectively. Subcommittee Chairmen Baird and Smith invited a panel that included NSF and DoD administrators, a university researcher, and an active duty Army Colonel to brief Members of Congress on how NSF and DoD research programs can provide information that will enhance national security. The panelists’ testimony and responses to questions from Subcommittee members reinforced the importance of funding “unfettered” basic science at NSF, supporting mission-related research at DoD, and continuing to increase collaboration between the two agencies to leverage the strengths of each. See the House Science and Technology Committee website for more information and to view panelists’ testimony.

Workshop on FERPA Regulatory Requirements

On April 24-25, the National Academies of Science’s National Committee on Statistics and the American Educational Research Association sponsored a workshop entitled “Protecting Student Records and Facilitating Education Research.” Scientists from across the country and the federal government, including the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, met to discuss how best to facilitate education research that may require access to data and education records while balancing the privacy requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). A report from the workshop is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2008. Meanwhile, the Department of Education is currently soliciting comments on proposed changes to FERPA that would clarify permissible disclosures of information in health and safety emergencies as well as permissible redisclosures by State and Federal officials and disclosures by school districts to education researchers.

APA Submits Written Testimony on Federal Health and Education Funding

APA submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education on April 28, 2008. Unlike in years past, the Subcommittee did not schedule hearings for public witnesses, but instead invited organizations and individuals to submit statements for the record.

The APA statement called for a 6.5 percent funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It also requested $6 million in funding for the Minority Fellowship Program in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; $7 million in funding for the Graduate Psychology Education program; and encouraged enhanced data collection on minority training programs at NIH and for surveillance of eating disorders in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.