Also in this Issue

U.S. House Votes to Boost Research and Development at NASA; APA Helps Honor Leaders of Health Services Research; NIMH Soon to Release Strategic Plan; APA Members and Staff Honored at CPDD; National Children’s Study Responds to Recent NAS Review

U.S. House Votes to Boost Research and Development at NASA

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend authorization of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) one year. The bill (H.R. 6063) authorized $20.2 billion for the agency, a full $2.9 billion over the President’s FY 2009 budget request. The authorized level includes $853,400,000 for NASA’s Aeronautics program, home to aviation safety and human factors research. Shortly before the bill went to the House floor, APA Science Government Relations staff sent a letter to Representatives urging them to support the authorization bill. We also asked members of APA’s Public Policy Advocacy Network (PPAN) to support NASA by calling their Representative and urging him/her to vote yes on the bill. Many thanks to all of you who made calls!

APA endorsed the House NASA authorization bill because it restores support for the agency’s long-underfunded research programs, including aviation safety and human performance research, much of which is done by psychological scientists at NASA and at NASA-funded institutions. The FY 2009 authorized funding level for Aeronautics, if signed into law, would amount to a 35 percent increase over the allocation for FY 2008. This represents an extraordinary commitment by Congress to restore support for aeronautics research. NASA’s FY 2008 allocation diminished the spending power of the aeronautics program by 40 percent compared to 2004, forcing NASA centers to cut jobs and university grants in aeronautics research, especially in the area of human performance and aviation safety.

The Senate may vote on its version of the bill as soon as July.

Science Government Relations’ Elizabeth Hoffman will continue to work with the authorizing and appropriations committees in both chambers of Congress to advance behavioral science at NASA. Stay tuned for more updates.

APA Helps Honor Leaders of Health Services Research

On June 9, APA cosponsored a reception honoring champions of health services research at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Among those honored were Congressman Tom Allen; Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson; Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Dr. Carolyn Clancy; Director of the National Center for Health Statistics, Dr. Ed Sondik; two staff from the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Dr. Sudip Parikh and Lisa Bernhardt; and, two staff from the corresponding Subcommittee in the House, Nicole Kunko and Sue Quantius.

Over 200 guests attended the event to help celebrate Congressional leadership of the first comprehensive comparative effectiveness research legislation introduced in the 110th Congress, the “Enhanced Health Care Value for All Act of 2007” (H.R. 2184).

NIMH Soon to Release Strategic Plan

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is scheduled to release the final version of its strategic plan shortly. You may recall that we put out a call for public input on a draft version of the plan back in December. We heard from a wide range of individual APA members and were able to share these comments with NIMH Director, Dr. Tom Insel. A common theme that emerged was the inadequate coverage of behavioral research among the Plan’s stated objectives. In our cover letter to Dr. Insel in December, we urged the Institute not to exclude basic behavioral research in the final version of the Plan, just as it does not exclude studies of normal brain function that are conducted solely at the neural level.

We have recently been heartened by Insel’s stated commitment to behavioral research. For example, at a recent meeting of the NIMH Professional Coalition for Research Progress, Insel promoted the importance of discoveries in the brain and behavioral sciences for treating and preventing mental disorders. His discussion of the interplay among genes, circuits, and behavior was enlightening, and we are hopeful that he shares our goal of ensuring that basic behavioral science is supported, funded and lauded. We are also hopeful that the final version of the strategic plan will reflect this commitment. Click here to read a letter that APA’s Executive Director for Science, Dr. Steve Breckler, sent to Insel regarding his commitment to basic behavioral research. Please contact Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman with questions or comments.

Stay tuned for more NIMH news.

APA Members and Staff Honored at CPDD

On June 15, APA member Dr. Hendree Jones received the Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award at the plenary session of the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The award is given annually to recognize outstanding research by an investigator below the age of 40 in memory of Dr. Joseph Cochin, a highly esteemed leader in drug abuse research and a former Chairman and Executive Secretary of CPDD. Dr. Jones is Research Director at the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

During the same session, Dr. Geoff Mumford, Assistant Executive Director for Government Relations in the Science Directorate, received CPDD’s Distinguished Service Award. In presenting the award, CPDD Board member Dr. Bill Dewey cited Geoff’s development and organization of an educational briefing series on behalf of the Friends of NIDA coalition and his long term effort to help restore an external panel of drug abuse expertise within the advisory committee structure of the Food and Drug Administration.

National Children’s Study Responds to Recent NAS Review

During the June 13 meeting of the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council, Director Duane Alexander provided an update on the planning for the National Children’s Study (NCS). In May, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released their review of the NCS research plan, which supported the overall goals of the study, but also included a number of recommendations. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requested a response from the NCS Program Office and that response was sent to OMB on June 14. By addressing many of the recommendations point by point, the NCS Response to the NAS Review provides further explanation for many of the compromises made in developing the study. For example, in response to the NAS panel’s recommendation of more frequent visits to better assess child development, the NCS Program Office stated that, “increasing the number of contacts over this period to enable more frequent assessment of infant development would be ideal from a scientific standpoint…however, within the broader, long-term context of the NCS, the proposed increased assessment may not be practical considering the additional burden on both the Study and the participants and cannot be supported by current budget projections.” The report further suggests that these concerns could be addressed by funding proposed adjunct studies of 20 percent of the NCS population that would incorporate additional in-person assessments of cognitive and language development between 12 and 36 months of age.