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Capitol Hill Poster Session Showcases NIH-Funded Behavioral and Social Science Research
By Patricia Kobor
Staff from the American Psychological Association (APA), Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), and other scientific and advocacy organizations recently organized a combined poster session and reception on Capitol Hill, called National Institutes of Health: Improving the Nation’s Health through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. Held on April 28, the reception drew 43 posters from 19 of the NIH institutes, centers, and offices that fund behavioral science. In addition to federal scientists and research administrators, some NIH units brought in extramural scientists to discuss their research in person.
More than 200 people attended the event, including congressional staff from both the House and Senate, representatives of advocacy organizations in the Washington area, as well as NIH staff. U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and David Price (D-NC) also took in the posters and talked with NIH leaders, which included the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Tom Insel, and the Acting Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Alan Guttmacher.
The event was targeted to congressional staff who might not know much about behavioral and social sciences research, or the extent to which it is supported by NIH. In an essay in the program introducing the event, Christine Bachrach, Acting Director of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences wrote “Behavioral research is an integral part of the NIH Mission: NIH is the steward of medical and behavioral research for the Nation. Its mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. An astounding 47% of all deaths have a preventable behavioral cause, including tobacco, poor diet and physical inactivity and sexual behaviors. NIH-funded behavioral and social scientists are working to improve the health of our nation by studying how biology, behavior and the social and physical environments dynamically interact and impact our health. Their research contributes to reducing tobacco use and smoking-related diseases, developing effective behavioral treatments for mental health disorders, preventing type II diabetes, and much more.”
Every event that occurs in Congressional space must have a Congressional sponsor. For this event, Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) was the working sponsor, helping with logistical details such as security clearances. Other sponsors who helped publicize the event to their congressional colleagues included Representative Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). Thirty outside organizations sponsored the event – that is, they made contributions so the event could take place. In addition to APA and COSSA, those organizations included the Association of American Medical Colleges, Research! America, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Educational Research Association, American Sociological Association, Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research, Population Association of America, Society for Research in Child Development, and Society for Behavioral Medicine.
As the posters are made available, they will be posted on the websites of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and the Coalition for the Advancement of Health Through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.
The following organizations provided posters for the event: The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and National Center for Research Resources.