Also in this Issue
NIDA Directors Present Perspectives as the Institute Turns 35
On May 21, Geoff Mumford, APA’s Assistant Executive Director for Government Relations for Science attended the 35th anniversary celebration of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The event was jointly organized by the Friends of NIDA, the Office of NIH History and the Institute of Behavior and Health, Inc. and was designed to examine the past, present and future of NIDA, guided by all the Directors and Acting Directors who have provided leadership for NIDA over the past 35 years. Sadly, Dr. William Pollin died in January as plans for the event were being finalized, but loving tributes to his legacy were provided by both his wife, Teresa, and his Special Assistant, Dr. Jack Durell. Following those presentations, a panel of historians led by Robert Martensen, MD, PhD, Director of the Office of NIH History, shared their perspectives with the audience of invited guests.
In preparation for the event, each of the NIDA Directors was asked to write a 10-page paper responding to two questions: What were the most important events during your directorship? and What is your vision for the future of NIDA? Each historian was asked to contribute a 10-page paper on the role of NIDA in the nation’s response to the modern drug abuse epidemic and the co-sponsoring organizations plan to publish that collection of papers when a suitable venue can be confirmed. The event program can be viewed from the APA website.
Meetings with Senate Staff Regarding JJDPA Reauthorization Bode Well for Science
In May, Science Government Relations’ Anne Bettesworth met with both majority and minority Senate Judiciary Committee staff regarding the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. As SPIN readers may recall from a previous SPIN article, APA’s Science and Public Interest GRO recently submitted recommendations to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the reauthorization of this legislation that guides federal investment in the nation’s juvenile justice system. Science GRO’s contributions to this effort included a section on strengthening the peer review process and on defining and promoting the use of evidence-based practices. Both of these suggestions were well-taken by Committee staff, who were acutely aware of the need for legislative language that would make the peer review process more transparent and ensure that the best science is being funded by encouraging the use of evidence-based practices. Science GRO will continue to monitor this legislation and advocate for provisions that strengthen scientific infrastructure in the juvenile justice arena.
The 8th Annual Jerry Lee Crime Prevention Symposium
In early May, Science GRO’s Anne Bettesworth attended the 8th Annual Jerry Lee Crime Prevention Symposium. The symposium consisted of presentations of research results of various key criminal justice topics, as well as a roundtable discussion exploring the question of how to advance evidence-based policy in the next Administration. The roundtable included 10 discussants, ranging from a Government Accountability Office analyst to an Appropriations Committee staffer to a criminology professor. David Hagy, Director of the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ), also sat on the panel.
Roundtable discussant Carol Petrie, Director of the Committee on Law and Justice at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), spoke about the assessment that the NAS is conducting on the NIJ (see past SPIN article for more details). She said that the committee is being very thorough in its approach to evaluating the agency by carrying out site visits, interviews with staff, and surveys of practitioners and academics who utilize the NIJ information. Petrie noted that the NAS recommendations would most likely be complete by the fall of 2009.
Additionally, staff counsel to Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, spoke about post-research prospects on the Hill and how researchers can most effectively be heard. She mentioned the importance of having consensus within the research community; getting the attention of Members with research conducted at their home universities; taking research results and delivering concise public policy implications to Congress; and developing coalitions between researchers and national advocacy groups in order to funnel information to the Hill.
Almost Century Mark for Meeting of NIDA Advisory Council
On May 14, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) held the 99th meeting of its Advisory Council.
Highlights of Dr. Volkow’s Director’s Report included items of interest to the behavioral science community. Readers of SPIN may legitimately wonder what comes of our frequent calls to comment on agency strategic plans; our effort on behalf of NIDA serves as a useful case in point. When we asked for comment on NIDA’s strategic plan, the dominant theme across the comments we received related to questions about NIDA’s prevention research portfolio. Our APA comments reflected that focus and we are extremely grateful that NIDA heard your concerns. Dr. Volkow has since convened a NIDA Prevention Research Review Working Group, led by APA psychologists Mark Greenberg and Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus. The first meeting of the group is scheduled for September 8-9.
In addition, representatives from the American Psychiatric Association (ApA) presented on the progress of DSM-V. Although it was heartening to see psychologists Tom McClellan, Nancy Petry, and Alan Budney involved in Chuck O’Brien’s Substance-Related Disorders Workgroup, it would appear likely that the evolution of these diagnostic criteria would benefit from additional expertise from the psychological science community. The workgroup rosters were recently released; APA members who have suggestions or want to provide input about the rosters should contact APA directly.
Additional Council Presentations can be found on the NIDA website.
NAS Panel Recommends Delaying the National Children’s Study
On May 22, the National Academies of Science released its review of the National Children’s Study (NCS) Research Plan, offering a summary of the study’s strengths and weaknesses and providing a list of 24 recommendations. While praising the study’s goals and value as a future research resource for improving child health outcomes, the report also highlighted some notable weaknesses. The multidisciplinary panel, which included developmental psychologist and APA member Nora Newcombe from Temple University, recommended that the NCS delay enrollment beyond the initial Vanguard Centers to provide time for a pilot phase of the study. According to the panel, this delay would allow time to consider more fully the appropriate conceptual framework and specification of hypotheses and measures for the study.
Some of the weaknesses of the study were also highlighted by APA in its official comments on the NCS last Fall, including: an overrepresentation of hypotheses and measures related to diseases versus healthy development and little attention being paid to outcomes in later childhood and adolescence that might have influenced the selection of additional or alternative exposures as well as issues related to health disparities.
The Panel also had concerns about a number of variables, such as: child mental health disorders, maternal depression, brain injuries, reproductive development outcomes and the social environment in the home, and a particular concern about the set of psychosocial measures. According to the NCS Program Office, some of the panel’s recommendations are already being implemented, others will take more time, and still others would not be possible without additional resources, though it is not clear yet which specific recommendations are being implemented.
LAST CHANCE: NIH Wants Your Advice by June 2 on Ways to Spend Common Fund Money
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a “Request for Information (RFI): To Solicit Ideas for Common Fund / Roadmap Trans-NIH Strategic Initiatives.” NIH is seeking comments from the scientific community, health professionals, patient advocates, and the general public about innovative and cross-cutting initiatives to be funded through the NIH Common Fund beginning in the year 2010. The NIH Common Fund / Roadmap was created by the NIH in 2004 and enacted into law by Congress through the 2006 NIH Reform Act to support cross-cutting, trans-NIH programs. The budget of the Common Fund has been growing, while the budgets of Institutes and Centers have been flat (this fiscal year’s Common Fund budget is $495 million). Therefore, it is wise for psychological scientists to think carefully about potential Common Fund initiatives that could advance behavioral and social science progress.
Because NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) regularly collaborate in areas of shared interest, the NIH Leadership developed specific and more exacting criteria for Common Fund / Roadmap programs. Primary among these criteria is that Common Fund programs are expected to have exceptionally high impact and to transform the way research is conducted. All Common Fund / Roadmap programs are relevant to multiple diseases. They address common challenges that are faced by investigators working in multiple disease areas.
One new initiative just adopted as part of the Roadmap, and therefore eligible for Common Fund money, is “The Science of Behavior Change.” Funding and other announcements in support of this initiative are in preparation.
Please see the official notice for more information and instructions for responding by the deadline of June 2, 2008. Watch for updates here and in the Psychological Science Agenda about this announcement and others related to the Roadmap and NIH Common Fund.
APA Science Directorate Names Incoming Science Policy Fellow
Erin McMullen Jonaitis, PhD, has been selected as APA's incoming Science Policy Fellow for the academic year beginning September, 2008. She succeeds Deborah Weber, PhD, a neuropsychologist currently placed within the Department of Defense's Counterintelligence Field Activity office. Dr. McMullen Jonaitis' executive branch fellowship placement will be at the National Science Foundation, where she will put her cognitive and developmental science expertise to work in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate.
APA Monitors Bill That Would Limit Research on Non-Human Primates
On April 17, the Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 5882) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), along with Reps. Tom Allen (D-ME), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Bruce Braley (D-IA), John Campbell (R-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), and David Reichert (R-WA). If passed, this bill would prohibit invasive research (regardless of source of funding) on any of the following species of non-human primates: chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, or gibbons (which, in fact, are not great apes). The bill would also prohibit breeding and transportation of these species for such research purposes.
As defined in the bill, “invasive research” refers to “any experimental research that may cause death, bodily injury, pain, distress, fear, injury, or trauma to a great ape, including—(A) the testing of any drug or intentional exposure to a substance that may be detrimental to the health of a great ape; (B) research that involves … restraining, tranquilizing, or anesthetizing a great ape; or (C) isolation, social deprivation, or other experimental physical manipulations that may be detrimental to the health or psychological well-being of a great ape.” It also includes “ … observation of natural or voluntary behavior of a great ape, (if) the research require(s) removal of the great ape from the social group or environment … or require(s) an anesthetic or sedation event to collect data or record observations.”
The bill, which is supported by the Humane Society of the United States and The New England Anti-Vivisection Society, has been referred to the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Foreign Affairs, and Ways and Means. The APA Committee on Animal Research and Ethics is currently assessing the impact of this legislation on behavioral and psychological research with these species, if it were to be enacted as introduced. APA will monitor the status of the bill and advocate for legislation that does not impede ethically and scientifically sound research while ensuring that laboratory animals are afforded the highest levels of humane care and treatment.