November 19, 2012 Volume 31, Issue 21
Last Chance to Register for COSSA Colloquium
The last day to register the COSSA Colloquium on Social and Behavioral Science and Public Policy (November 29 and 30) is Tuesday, November 20. Late additions to the roster of speakers include staff from the offices of Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Jay Rockefeller and the director of the RTI/Duke University Institute for Homeland Security Studies. Click here to see the agenda. We hope to see you there.
Election 2012: Key Leaders Remain, but Changes Will Affect Administration and Congressional Panels
The 2012 election results left the key leaders the same as we head into the 113th Congress. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will still have to negotiate with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The White House will still receive support from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
However, beneath this, changes are coming. In the President's Cabinet, there will be new faces on the National Security team, and perhaps at some of the domestic departments. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has indicated he will stay, but Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner expects to leave. Attorney General Eric Holder and some others have not decided yet.
Within the President's White House staff, a permanent director of the Office of Management and Budget needs appointment. Other changes dictated by the Cabinet shuffle may bring the President a new Chief of Staff.
The Republicans in the Senate will have a new number two in the leadership ranks as Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) will become the Minority Whip replacing the retired Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ).
The New Members
There are twelve new members of the Senate. Six moved up from the House, including Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who sponsored the successful amendment that passed the House, but not the Senate, to eliminate the political science program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). There are two former Governors, Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Angus King (I-ME). There will be 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and 2 Independents who will caucus with the Democrats, giving them a ten seat majority, up two from the 112th Congress. Flake has a M.A. in Political Science from Brigham Young, Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has an undergraduate engineering degree, and Deb Fischer (R-NE) has an undergraduate degree in education; the rest are all trained as lawyers.
As with many first elections following reapportionment, a large contingent (84 in 2012) will join the new House. With a few House races still in dispute, the expected party breakdown will likely be 234 Republicans (down eight from the 112th Congress) and 201 Democrats. Nine have served before including Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), returning after a two-year hiatus, who has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Florida State University. She joins re-elected members, Reps. David Price (D-NC), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Dave Loebseck (D-IA), Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) as members with doctorates in political science.
Newly elected Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) joins Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Tim Murphy (R-PA) as Ph.D. psychologists in the House. Lowenthal's degree is from the Ohio State University. In addition, new Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has a Ph.D. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) was a Marshall Scholar who earned a D.Phil. from Oxford. The return of Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) ups the Physics Ph.D. caucus to two; Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) is the other one.
Furthermore, the new members include one with a Masters Degree in Political Science, one with a Masters in International Affairs, three with Masters in Public Policy degrees, three with Masters in Business Administration, one with a Masters in Public Administration, three medical doctors, and one veterinarian.
The turnover in the Senate and House membership and some possible movement of Senators and Representatives into the Administration will result in churning among the makeup of the committees that still do the bulk of the substantive and investigative work of the Congress.
In the Senate the Appropriations Committee, which recommends spending levels for individual agencies and programs, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HA) will remain in charge. However, a new Ranking Republican, expected to be Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), will be Inouye's new negotiating partner. At the Subcommittee level, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will remain as head of the Commerce, Justice, Science panel that oversees the budgets of the NSF, Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Institute of Justice, and Bureau of Justice Statistics. The retirement of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) opens up the Ranking Republican slot on this Subcommittee.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) will continue as Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education spending subcommittee with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) expected to become the Ranking Republican. This same pair will also chair and hold the Ranking Republican slot on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee which will try again to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and will play a role in the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, which includes the NSF's reauthorization. The Agriculture, Rural Development spending panel will have a new Chairman with the retirement of Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI).
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which will also play a significant role in the reauthorization of The COMPETES Act, will retain Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) as Chairman. The Ranking Republican slot has come open with Hutchison's retirement. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is expected to fill the position.
The Senate Budget Committee will have Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) as the new Chair, replacing retired Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND). She is expected to have more partisan clashes with Ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) than Conrad did.
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will have completely new leadership. Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has retired and Ranking Republican Susan Collins (R-ME) has been term limited. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) are the likely new leadership team. At the Subcommittee level both were active in oversight of the Census and the American Community Survey. The Foreign Relations Committee may have a new chairman if the rumors of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) moving to the Administration turn out to have legs. With Sen. Richard Lugar's (R-IN) defeat, the new Ranking Republican should be Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).
Battle for Science Panel Chair
With the Republican rule on term limits, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) will have to step down as Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who had to give up his Judiciary panel chairmanship; F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who previously led the panel from 1997-2001; and Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), who called former Rep. Brian Baird's (D-WA) legislation to infuse social and behavioral science research into the Department of Energy "mind control," have all expressed interest in the position. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) should remain as Ranking Member of the Committee. The panel will have a key role in reauthorizing COMPETES.
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) will remain as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. The Ranking Member slot is open with the retirement of Rep. Norm Dicks (R-WA). Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Nita Lowy (D-NY) have indicated their intention to seek the position.
The other significant position that needs filling is the Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education spending panel. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), who recommended the abolition of health economics research at the National Institutes of Health in the bill his subcommittee reported in 2012, failed in his attempt to move to the Senate. At this point it is unclear who will get to lead the panel.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) will continue to lead the Commerce, Justice, Science spending panel with Rep. Chaka Fatah (D-PA) expected to stay as Ranking Member. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) will remain as head of the Budget Committee, with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) staying to offer Democratic alternatives. Reps. John Kline (R-MN) and George Miller (D-CA) will also continue their leadership positions of the Education and Workforce panel to try and get ESEA reauthorized.
With negotiations continuing to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," any deal will set parameters for the new Congress. In addition, many issues that the 112th Congress punted on, including full FY 2013 appropriations, the Farm Bill, a multi-year highway and transportation bill, elementary and secondary education, and others remain on the agenda for the 113th. As always, it should be an interesting new political environment!
NIH Announces Functional, Not Structural, Integration of NIDA and NIAAA
On Friday, November 17, National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins announced that he had come to the conclusion that "that it is more appropriate for NIH to pursue functional integration, rather than major structural reorganization, to advance substance use, abuse, and addiction-related research. To that end, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) will retain their institutional identities, while strengthening their ongoing efforts to work more closely with each other and with related research programs at other institutes and centers."
In 2010, one of the first recommendations made by NIH's Scientific Management Review Board
(SMRB) was that the agency move to establish a new institute focused on substance use, abuse, and addiction-related research to optimize NIH research in these areas (see Update, September 27, 2010). The SMRB also discussed that in lieu of merging NIDA and NIAAA and creating a new institute, that the NIH could accomplish the goals of such a merger via the functional integration of existing research resources.
In discussing his decision, Collins pointed out that the "NIH has made significant progress in the last two years, coordinating research on substance use, abuse, and addiction across its various institutes and centers. This progress has bolstered [his] confidence that NIH can achieve the SMRB recommendations without structural reorganization." He underscored that "given budget uncertainties, NIH must focus on advancing the entire biomedical research enterprise. The time, energy, and resources required for a major structural reorganization are not warranted, especially given that functional integration promises to achieve equivalent scientific and public health objectives, stated Collins.
He announced that the agency will begin implementing this functional approach immediately, and develop metrics to ensure that it reach its "goals to more effectively conduct and support research in these areas so vital to our nation's health."
Since the SMRB's recommendation, the NIDA and NIAAA have begun integrating their intramural research programs in substance use, abuse, and addiction, including the appointment of a single Clinical Director for NIAAA and NIDA and the establishment of a joint genetics Intramural Research Program and a common Optogenetics lab. In addition, the institutes initiated joint NIAAA and NIDA Council meetings (see Update, September 26, 2011). The next joint Council meeting is scheduled for December 13th. The National Cancer Advisory Board will also participate in that meeting.
Draft Strategic Plan Released
According to Collins, by pooling resources and expertise, the Functional Integration will identify cross-cutting areas of research and confront challenges faced by multiple Institutes and Centers. The Scientific Strategic Plan: New Opportunities in Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction for accomplishing this functional integration was released on November 17th as well. The Plan takes into consideration the current investments and priorities in substance abuse and addiction research, and "highlights new synergies and opportunities that are not sufficiently addressed across NIH at this time." It is noted that at the same time, "research training will also need to be broadened to ensure a cadre of scientists prepared to exploit these new opportunities related to substance abuse and other addictive behavioral disorders." Goals identified in the draft Plan include:
- Understand the neurodevelopmental processes that influence the likelihood of developing substance use disorders and/or behavioral and substance addictions later in life, including the identification of which systems, processes, and temporal periods will be most productive for intervention.
- Expand knowledge of the neurobiology of risk perception, impulsivity, behavioral disinhibition, decision-making, information processing, and implicit cognition.
- In the psychosocial research arena, explore intersections between reinforcement/reward behaviors and substance use behaviors related to stress and anxiety reduction.
- Expand our understanding of how genes, epigenetic factors, environment, and development (including prenatal exposure) interact to influence the various risk/protective factors and disease trajectories of substance use and behavioral addictions.
- Develop a better understanding of the patterns and trajectories of substance abuse and other maladaptive behaviors (e.g., gambling, compulsive eating), particularly how use or engagement in one impacts others.
- Identify both common and distinct etiological factors across substances of abuse and addictive behaviors, including what characteristics determine whether an individual will follow a path towards excess, and if they do, what that trajectory would be for various substances and their combination.
- Examine the intersection of developmental stage, social context, and genes to better understand the initiation of substance use and susceptibility/resilience toward transitioning from use to abuse.
- Take advantage of new technologies (e.g., GPS and other wireless devices) to track substance abuse and addiction risk behaviors and factors that influence their occurrence.
- Determine how risk factors for substance use, heavy intake, addiction, and associated problems develop, including whether there are points of vulnerability (e.g., associated with age, primary drug(s), recovery pathway, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or presence of co-occurring medical/mental health disorders) where prevention efforts may be most effective.
- Monitor changes in public policies with regard to their impact on substance abuse and the availability of evidence-based prevention programs, identifying synergies and trade-offs in policy effects on multiple health-related behaviors and outcomes. Develop and employ appropriate causal modeling techniques to estimate policy effects and effectiveness.
- Develop effective behavioral, pharmacological, and biological (e.g., vaccines) interventions for treating addiction that are targeted to specific sub-populations, based on poly-substance addiction, psychiatric, or other illness comorbidities.
- Design clinical trials that more accurately reflect real-world conditions (e.g., greater inclusion of poly-substance abusers or persons with comorbid mental health disorders).
- Develop biomarkers and/or genetic -based methodology for monitoring treatment outcomes in individuals with substance abuse and addictive behaviors.
- Develop markers of treatment adherence for substance abuse and addiction clinical trials, and strategies to promote compliance, including use of wireless technologies, social networks, etc.
- Identify more cost-effective, population-based interventions for substance abuse and addiction that can serve as a first line of intervention.
- Identify the biological, psychological, and social factors that promote resiliency and recovery in substance abuse patients and the impact of using one substance on the likelihood of substitution or relapse to other substances of abuse or addictive behaviors.
- Elucidate the factors that prohibit substance abusing individuals from getting treatment, in order to remove these barriers and encourage/motivate patient recognition and utilization of effective addiction and substance abuse treatments.
- Develop approaches for the integration of comprehensive early detection, screening, and treatment of substance use disorders (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, and illicit or nonmedical prescription drug use) into general medical and pediatric settings via evidenced-base practice models, using novel technologies (e.g., mobile and electronic health tools).
- Develop evidence-based treatment algorithms for substance abusers that specify modifications to treatment for non-responders.
- Develop innovative and integrative approaches for treating addiction with related comorbid conditions (e.g., mental illness, chronic pain, and HIV).
- Develop a better understanding of the mechanisms through which substance abuse and addiction treatments work, including identification of the "active ingredients" of multi-component interventions.
- Leverage existing research networks, including ones that work with the criminal justice system, to focus on drug abuse, alcoholism, and related comorbidities, as appropriate.
- Determine how the implementation of new public policies will affect treatment, service delivery, and potential expansion of the population seeking treatment for substance abuse.
The complete draft strategic plan is available at: http://www.nih.gov/blog/feedback/substance-abuse/new-opportunities.pdf.
SBE Advisory Committee Meets: Hears from Suresh and Marrett; Discusses Initiatives
On November 15 the Advisory Committee (AC) to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate (SBE) held its semi-annual meeting. Chaired by AnnaLee Saxenian of the University of California, Berkeley's School of Information, the panel spent the day discussing the directorate's current and future initiatives as well as receiving the announcement of the search for a new leader (see other story).
As is customary, the AC met with NSF's leadership, Director Subra Suresh and Deputy Director Cora Marrett. Suresh again stressed the importance of integrating the SBE sciences and the natural sciences to address large scientific questions. He emphasized that this integration should include the SBE sciences as "integral to," and not just an "extension of" the research. As an example, he mentioned the government-wide Big Data initiative in which NSF is a major player.
He used the recently announced Nobel Prize winners in Economics, two of the forty-seven NSF has supported, Lloyd Shapely and Alvin Roth, as examples of social science research that have provided unexpected results in terms of its use for medical advances such as matching kidney donors and transplant recipients. He also noted that social scientists receive support not just from SBE, since Roth has had funding from the Computer and Information Science directorate. Marrett provided another example of SBE's integration across NSF. She remarked that a social scientist leads the Engineering Directorate's disaster research area.
Marrett also stressed the need to support education research issues and that there are many other opportunities beyond SBE. She told the community to take advantage of partnership situations with not only other government agencies, but with industry and philanthropic organizations. Suresh referenced the efforts NSF and others are making to get the Department of Energy interested in SBE research.
Asked about the current budgetary climate, Suresh suggested the uncertainty facing all federal agencies as the "fiscal cliff" negotiations continue. He also indicated that NSF would have to prioritize and do what he called "higher altitude thinking." Some short-term sacrifices might occur in order to meet long-term needs, he suggested.
Responding to a question about NSF's policy on open access to research findings, Suresh indicated that the Foundation was hashing out a policy that he expected would be revealed in the coming months. He emphasized the need for "the right economic model" with regard to any policy. In a separate presentation, Myron Gutmann, the Assistant Director for SBE, also suggested that any NSF open access policy would have to deal with the question of data policy with regard to publication policy.
Future of Science and Learning Centers
David Lightfoot, former SBE AD, now at Georgetown University, reported on the NSF's examination of the Science and Learning Centers (SLC). These six Centers, focused on research on learning, will see their NSF funding terminated in the next few years. Lightfoot emphasized that the demise of the SLCs did not mean the end of NSF funding for learning research, especially as the field continues its transformation with the help of computer modeling and brain mapping. He also congratulated the Centers on helping create a new scientific community.
Going forward, Lightfoot suggested that the new national emphasis on cognition and neuroscience would help, since learning is a key element here. He also indicated that new foci for this research would include brain plasticity, memory, genetic and epigenetic factors in learning, and cognitive development. The Science of Science and Innovation Policy has provided insights on possible funding mechanisms for future work, he concluded. Further discussion of all this will occur at a workshop in February 2013.
The AC also heard a presentation by Jon Krosnick of Stanford University about two workshops held in 2012 regarding the future of survey research. The group expects to develop a website with transcripts of the presentations and the slides as well as provide a report to the SBE directorate.
Amber Story, Deputy Director for the SBE's Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences directorate, updated the AC on the aforementioned government-wide cognitive science and neuroscience initiative. An interagency working group with participation from 20 government entities is working to identify cross-cutting national research and development priorities that would benefit from neuroscience. NSF is also working to produce an inventory of NSF-supported investments in these areas and organizing discussions of potential future investments.
In two separate reports Kaye Husbands Fealing, a member of the AC from the University of Minnesota, and Kellina Craig Henderson, Deputy Director of SBE's Social and Economic Sciences division, discussed the initiative on the Science and Practice of Broadening Participation. Its goals are to identify advances and barriers to increasing diversity in STEM fields, including the SBE disciplines. In addition, the initiative seeks to develop and enlarge a science community engaging in research on this topic and to determine how data about the breadth of participation in science might be improved. This last issue was the subject of a workshop held in May 2012, by the COSSA-led Collaborative for Enhancing Diversity in Science (for more information go to: http://www.cossa.org/diversity/diversity.html).
NSF Announces Search for New Leader for SBE
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that a search has begun to find a replacement for Myron Gutmann as the Assistant Director (AD) for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE). Gutmann expects to finish his four-year stint at the end of June 2013.
Speaking to the SBE Advisory Committee on November 14, NSF Director Subra Suresh and Deputy Director Cora Marrett strongly praised Gutmann's service. Present at the meeting were four of the five people who have led SBE; Marrett, who was the first, Norman Bradburn, David Lightfoot, and Gutmann. (Bennett Bertenthal, who led the directorate from 1996-2000, was missing.)
The NSF leaders announced that Gary Sandefur, Dean of the School of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin and a member of the COSSA Board of Directors, will head the search committee.
Suresh and Marrett asked the members of the Advisory Committee and the SBE community to help identify candidates and to help convince them to serve. The qualifications they outlined include: outstanding leadership; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the issues facing the SBE communities, especially in the areas of education and research; expertise with the production, analysis, and dissemination of public data and statistics; and the ability to serve effectively as a key member of the NSF senior management team.
They would welcome recommendations from academia, industry or government. Those suggestions, including any supporting information should be sent to the AD/SBE screening committee via email (email@example.com) or by mail to the National Science Foundation, Office of the Director, Suite 1205, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. These materials should be sent by January 18, 2013.
NCHS Releases Brief on Calories from Alcohol
The NCHS released a data brief on calories consumed from alcohol by adults over 20 years old. Nearly one third of men and 18 percent of women consume alcohol on a given day. On average, men consume more alcohol than women, and young people consume more alcohol than older people. There was not a significant difference in alcohol consumption by race. The brief notes that those who drink consume 16 percent of their calories from alcohol, which is above the recommended amount of calories from all added sugars and fats (5-15 percent), according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
NAS Releases Juvenile Justice Reform Report
The National Academies' Committee on Law and Justice has released a new report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. Requested by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and prepared by a panel chaired by Robert L. Johnson of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, and that included COSSA Board member Sandra Graham of UCLA, the report reviews "recent advances in behavioral and neuroscience research and draws out the implications of this knowledge for juvenile justice reform." It also assesses the performance of OJJDP in carrying out its statutory mission as well as its potential role in supporting scientifically based reform efforts.
From the outset, the panel declares that: "Recent research on adolescent development has underscored important behavioral differences between adults and adolescents with direct bearing on the design and operation of the justice system, raising doubts about the core assumptions driving the criminalization of juvenile justice policy in the last decades of the 20th century."
Thus, the report continues, "Adolescents differ from adults and children in three important ways that lead to differences in behavior. First, adolescents lack mature capacity for self-regulation in emotionally charged contexts, relative to adults. Second, adolescents have a heightened sensitivity to proximal external influences, such as peer pressure and immediate incentives, relative to children and adults. Third, adolescents show less ability than adults to make judgments and decisions that require future orientation. The combination of these three cognitive patterns accounts for the tendency of adolescents to prefer and engage in risky behaviors that have a high probability of immediate reward but can have harmful consequences."
In addition, studies of adolescent brain development lead the report to conclude that these young people "lack mature capacity for self-regulation because the brain system that influences pleasure-seeking and emotional reactivity develops more rapidly than the brain system that supports self-control."
In examining the interaction of adolescents with the criminal justice system, the report notes: "The vast majority of youth who are arrested or referred to juvenile court have not committed serious offenses, and half of them appear in the system only once." Those who commit serious offenses constitute a very small proportion of the overall delinquent population and their behavior is driven by the same risk factors and developmental processes that influence the behavior of other juvenile offenders, according to the panel.
Yet, those who enter the system confront its "heavy reliance on containment, confinement, and control, which removes youth from their families, peer groups, and neighborhoods--the social context of their future lives-- and deprives them of the opportunity to learn to deal with life's challenges." This is further exacerbated "by collateral consequences of justice system involvement, such as the public release of juvenile records that follow them throughout their lives and limit future educational and employment opportunities." In addition, "economically disadvantaged and minority youth are particularly affected by a juvenile justice system in which they are disproportionately represented. There is evidence that 'race matters' above and beyond the characteristics of an offense."
The report acknowledges that "substantial progress has been made by various states and local jurisdictions in embracing and implementing a more developmentally appropriate way of handling youth who come to the attention of the juvenile justice system." Still, the pace of reform has been "sluggish" and much more needs to be done.
Principles for Reform
In providing guiding principles for reform, the report preaches supporting prosocial development of youth who become involved in the system, which in turn must strive for accountability, prevention of reoffending, and fairness. The report's recommendations in these areas include:
- Use the justice system to communicate the message that society expects youth to take responsibility for their actions and the foreseeable consequences of their actions.
- Encourage youth to accept responsibility for admitted or proven wrongdoing, consistent with protecting their legal rights.
- Facilitate constructive involvement of family members in the proceedings to assist youth to accept responsibility and carry out the obligations set by the court.
- Use restitution and community service as instruments of accountability to victims and the community.
- Use confinement sparingly and only when needed to respond to and prevent serious reoffending.
- Avoid collateral consequences of adjudication, such as public release of juvenile records, that reduce opportunities for a successful transition to a prosocial adult life.
- Use structured risk and need assessment instruments to identify low-risk youth who can be handled less formally in community-based settings, to match youth with specialized treatment, and to target more intensive and expensive interventions on high-risk youth.
- Use clearly specified interventions rooted in knowledge about adolescent development and tailored to the particular adolescent's needs and social environment.
- Engage the adolescent's family as much as possible and draw on neighborhood resources to foster positive activities, prosocial development, and law-abiding behavior.
- Eliminate interventions that rigorous evaluation research has shown to be ineffective or harmful.
- Keep accurate data on the type and intensity of interventions provided and the results achieved.
- Ensure that youth are represented throughout the process by properly trained counsel unless the right is voluntarily and intelligently waived by the youth.
- Ensure that youth are adjudicated only if they are competent to understand the proceedings and assist counsel.
- Facilitate participation by youth in all proceedings.
- Intensify efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities, as well as other patterns of unequal treatment, in the administration of juvenile justice.
- Ensure that youth perceive that they have been treated fairly and with dignity.
- Establish and implement evidence-based measures for fairness based on both legal criteria and perceptions of youth, families, and other participants.
With regard to the OJJDP, the report criticizes both the Congress and the Executive Branch for neglect. The panel indicates that the Office's capacity to carry out its role has dramatically declined over the past decade because of inadequate funding and a severe restriction of its discretion in using its resources. Its core requirements have also been weakened by exceptions and a lack of clarifying federal regulations. In addition, there has been no presidentially-appointed Administrator since 2009. The panel concludes that OJJDP cannot provide robust guidance and assistance to the juvenile justice field without removing these budgetary and political roadblocks.
The full report is available at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=14685.
Environmental Change Board at NAS Reports on the Security Implications of Climate Change
Climate Change will increase the frequency with which governments must cope with severe and catastrophic weather events that could have global impacts on our security. To evaluate the U.S.'s capacity to handle these challenges and identify areas at risk, the National Academies' Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS), chaired by Richard H. Moss, the Joint Global Change Research Institute, released a report on Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis. The report was authored by the Committee on Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change, chaired by John D. Steinbruner, University of Maryland.
The report describes increasingly severe weather events occurring with greater frequency and often occurring simultaneously across the world. Such events will have unanticipated consequences and affect global systems such as food markets, supply chains, and public health. The impact of climate disruption will be determined by the severity of the weather event; the degree of exposure of people, assets, and systems to the event; and how effective the response is. The authors note that under the right conditions, "even unprecedentedly large climate events" do not necessarily create major threats.
The report argues for a "whole-of-government" approach to understanding security vulnerabilities to climate change. The authors call for research to:
- Quantify the likelihoods of potentially disruptive climate events,
- Improve understanding of the conditions under which natural disasters lead to security-relevant outcomes, and
- Integrate social science of natural disasters and response with other forms of analysis.
The authors also advocate "stress testing" the responses of countries, regions, and global systems to climate disasters to identify potential vulnerabilities. They suggest a number of means to do this, including "the qualitative interpretation of available data, formal modeling, and interactive gaming approaches." They also suggest employing techniques from decision science.
To download the complete report, visit: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=14682.
The report takes on a similar topic as a report from the Center for American Progress released earlier this year (See Update, January 9, 2012).
NAS Report Explores Macroeconomic Impact of Aging
On November 7, the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Population and its Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications hosted a briefing to discuss their new report, Aging and the Macroeconomy: Long-Term Implications of an Older Population.
Ronald Lee, of University of California-Berkeley and co-chair of the Committee on the Long-Run Macroeconomic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population, which authored the report, discussed the major findings. He noted that while lower mortality rates and greater longevity are a major source of the population's aging, other factors like lower birth rates and the aging of the baby boom generation also play a role. The Committee estimates that by 2050, average life expectancy will have increased by about 6.5 years to 84.5. A major challenge presented by this trend is that consumption has been rising with age (mainly due to public health consumption). The consumption of 80-year-olds compared to 20-year-olds doubled between 1960 and 2007. This shift in consumption towards the older cohort increases the costs of population aging.
The level of education among the elderly is increasing, a positive sign since greater education is associated with better health and lower levels of disability. There was a steady decline in disability among seniors between 1980 and 2002, but the rate has stayed steady since then. Lee noted that most seniors between 65 and 74 leave the workforce for reasons other than health-indicating that policies could be implemented to convince this cohort to stay in the labor force longer. Overall, the average retirement age declined as life expectancy increased (though the retirement age has risen by 1.5 years since 1995).
Policies that could encourage labor-force participation by seniors include making part-time work more available, creating incentives for workers to stay (such as eliminating the payroll tax after a number of years in the workforce or removing pension incentives for early retirement), and creating incentives for employers to hire older workers (such as making Medicare the primary insurance provider for older workers). The Committee found that increasing senior participation in the labor force would not take jobs away from young people. The report also examined the aging population's effect on production and innovation, which the Committee deemed would be minor.
Lee cautioned that between a third and a fifth of the population is not saving enough for retirement (a conservative estimate, since the calculations assume Social Security, Medicare, and private pensions will remain fully funded). Lee suggested policy options to encourage retirement saving, including improved financial literacy, improved annuity products, more comprehensive insurance options, improved reverse mortgages, and putting entitlements on sustainable footing.
The report looked into the net impact of a global aging population on rates of return on assets. While an aging population could lead to the concentration of wealth in older cohorts, it is also likely to be a drain on government resources. The Committee estimated a net decline between a third and one percent of assets.
An older population is also likely to put pressure on government programs, increasing the deficit. However, these programs can also be used as a mechanism to influence consumption and working behavior. Lee stressed the cost effectiveness of acting soon, noting that the longer we wait, the more intervening will cost.
Overall, Lee said, there are four broad options to meet the challenges of the aging population, which could be mixed and matched to achieve the desired result: 1) saving more/consuming less, 2) increasing taxes/consuming less, 3) reducing benefits for the elderly, 4) working longer/retiring later. Implementing solutions will raise fundamental questions about how to allocate costs to different populations and across generations and about what we pass on to future generations. Lee concluded by observing that "population aging poses a serious challenge, but not an insurmountable one."
The report can be downloaded at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13465.
UNFPA Report Advocates Family Planning as a Human Right
On November 14, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched its State of the World Population 2012 report, entitled By Choice, Not by Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development. At the DC launch, the UNFPA brought together stakeholders, advocates, and policymakers to discuss the implications of the report for family planning efforts worldwide.
Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) praised the report's title, arguing, "Women's health and future cannot be left to chance" and that "access to family planning is an issue of human rights." Schakowsky pointed out that 222 million women worldwide do not have access to contraception, including many in the U.S. She expressed hope that the outcome of the recent election would lead to a "revival of science" in Congress. Schakowsky concluded by arguing that improving access to contraception is "not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do" and that family planning is a "fundamental human right."
Margaret Greene, the lead author of the report, discussed what she felt was unique about its approach to the issue of family planning. She noted that the report brings together both a human rights rationale and an economic development case for family planning. The report reviewed hundreds of studies worldwide and found that family planning is valued, wanted, and needed by those who do not have access to it, which includes women in poor countries as well as young and disadvantaged groups in wealthier countries. The traditional focus of family planning efforts has been married women of reproductive age. However, Greene suggested, it is also necessary to target men, young people, the poor, unmarried women, and disadvantaged populations (including minorities, indigenous groups, LGBT individuals, those with HIV, and sex workers).
Greene discussed some of the many reasons family planning is a "wise economic investment." Women with access to family planning have improved well-being and health and do better economically; their children benefit (both in terms of health and survival rates, but also in terms of future education and wages); their households benefit economically; and nations benefit in terms of income, savings, and investment from the aggregation of these positive developments. Greene argued that promoting family planning is a global challenge, not just a problem faced by the developing world. A global investment of an additional $8.1 billion a year would address most unmet need for family planning and saves billions over the long-term.
Ellen Starbird, Office of Population and Reproductive Health, USAID, emphasized that access to family planning can be a gateway to other rights, in that it encourages women to take control over more aspects of their lives. She praised the report for drawing attention to the need for family planning among populations beyond married reproductive-age women. Starbird noted that family planning has been a major element of USAID's approach to development for 40 years and that it is one of seven goals of the Global Health Initiative. These efforts are focused on countries in Africa and Asia (they have already graduated 22 countries from the program, mainly in Latin America). Across 13 priority countries, contraception prevalence has increased by 1.7 percent a year. Starbird also noted a need for "demand-side interventions" that address factors discouraging women from taking advantage of family planning options such as asymmetrical gender norms and child marriage.
Susan Cohen, Guttmacher Institute, noted that though discussions of family planning tend to differentiate between health needs "over there" (in the developing world) and "here" (in the U.S.), there is still significant unmet need for contraception in America, often due to cost. Cohen cited a study that demonstrated that when given the choice of any birth control method regardless of cost, women chose the most effective (and expensive) options. She argued that investment in family planning is both good for society and cost effective. Doubling the global investment to $8 billion would prevent 272 million unintended pregnancies. Every dollar spent on family planning would save $1.40 in maternity/newborn care costs alone. In the U.S., every dollar invested would save $4 in Medicaid costs.
Heidi Williamson, Trust Black Women, argued that the report demonstrates that "as the health of a woman goes, so goes the health of that nation." She discussed her approach to women's health in a human rights context, "reproductive justice," and argued that access alone is not enough without ensuring that targeted populations are well-informed about their options. She noted that the health needs of African American women in the U.S. (particularly in the South) are severely underserved. Williamson observed that in African American communities, family planning has historically been associated with community uplift. She also warned that the data used to illustrate the problem could be used to blame the target communities.
Urooj Arshad, Advocates for Youth, praised the report's integration of youth issues into its discussions of family planning. She pointed out that unmet need for contraception is two times higher among young people. She discussed some hurdles to be overcome, including norms like child marriage, the prevalence of violence and rape, institutional and infrastructure barriers (such as education, poverty, and the challenges faced by rural areas), the lack of integrated services for family planning and HIV/STI prevention and treatment, and the need to reach out to LGBT populations.
More information about the State of the World 2012 report can be found at: http://unfpa.org/swp.
NSF Solicits Proposals for National Robotics Initiative: Includes SBE Research
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is part of a multi-agency National Robotics Initiative (NRI) that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health and NASA. The goal of the NRI is to accelerate the development and use of robots in the United States that work beside or cooperatively with people.
According to the announcement, the purpose of this program is the development of the next generation of robotics, to advance the capability and usability of such systems and artifacts, and to encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative application areas. It will address the entire life cycle from fundamental research and development to manufacturing and deployment.
An important part of the initiative is to support research to gain a better understanding of the long-term social, behavioral and economic implications of co-robots across all areas of human activity as well as the development of methods to establish and infuse robotics in educational curricula. These could include:
- Research on robotic technologies that will enable the development of interactive and adaptive learning environments for learners of all ages, across all domains (e.g. co-robot systems that support personalized learning).
- Models of uptake, diffusion, and use among different demographic and social groups, including appropriate incentives and potential disparities and ethical implications; workforce participation among various diverse groups, including the elderly and non-native English speakers; and models of human-robot collaboration.
To explore the linking of robotics research efforts and testbeds for K-16 education, NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources will provide small project level funding for planning, study, and prototyping projects. Successful applicants are expected to demonstrate high potential to advance K-16 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Due to limited funds and the multi-agency nature of this solicitation, education-focused proposals are discouraged for the large competition.
Example activities are:
- Design of innovative robotic technologies as tools for enhancing STEM learning in formal and informal learning environments.
- Applications that further the development of co-robot systems that support personalized learning.
- Design, implementation, and rigorous study of robotics competitions impact on student engagement, motivation to learn STEM content, and STEM career motivation.
Other fundamental research topics of broad interest across the agencies include, but are not limited to:
- Problem solving architectures that integrate reasoning, motor, perceptual, and language capabilities and that can learn from experience.
- Hybrid architectures that integrate or combine different methods, such as deductive, probabilistic, analogical, case-based, symbolic, or sub-symbolic reasoning.
- Computational models of human cognition, perception, and communication for commonsense or specialized domains and tasks, including acquisition and representation of contextual knowledge.
- Cognitive prediction - universal learning systems such as recurrent neural networks, which can learn to predict, estimate or model any set of time series, using testbeds ranging from simple time-series to streaming video, including time-series from unknown stochastic dynamic systems sampled from well-defined prior probabilities.
The initiative strongly encourages collaboration between academic, industry, non-profit and other organizations to establish better linkages between fundamental science and technology development, deployment and use.
Two classes of proposals will be considered in response to this solicitation:
- Small projects: One or more investigators spanning 1 to 5 years. Due on December 11, 2012.
- Large projects: Multi-disciplinary teams spanning 3 to 5 years. Due on January 23, 2013.
The agencies expect to make 20-30 small awards and 5-10 large awards, spending $40 to $50 million per year, subject to availability of funds.
For more information re SBE and Education projects contact: Amy Friedlander, SBE, firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 292-2262; or Darryl N. Williams, EHR, email@example.com or (703) 292-7906.
The full solicitation is available at:
NIMHD Seeks Applications for Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is seeking applications designed to establish Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCCs) for health disparities research.
The Institute notes that "Addressing health disparities requires a transdisciplinary framework that cuts across organizational silos to foster an integrated approach involving multiple disciplines- biology, behavioral and social sciences, environmental science, public health, health care, economics, public policy and many other disciplines." The solicitation also requires strong collaborations between researchers and community organizations, service providers and systems, government agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that contextually appropriate and relevant research is conducted and that findings can translate into sustainable individual-, community- and systems-level changes that improve population health.
Regional collaboration is "particularly important and timely because it provides opportunities for institutions and organizations to achieve a broader reach than is possible with isolated local efforts while combining expertise and resources in an era of constrained budgets." Collaboration at the regional level also fosters applied research that is uniquely responsive to specific population-based, environmental, sociocultural, and political factors that influence health within a particular region.
NIMHD expects that the TCCs will support partnerships and collaborations between a broad range of stakeholders to develop a uniquely transformative and novel infrastructure for coordinated research, implementation and dissemination activities. In addition, the Institute requires that the transdisciplinary teams established under the proposed TCC will develop new and integrative ways to explore the many complex interactions that influence minority health and health disparities within a defined region, and will use the knowledge gained to produce sustainable change within the region and beyond. This funding opportunity will support TCCs focused specifically on health policy research.
Applications must focus on one or more topics in health policy research and the interplay between policy and health disparities. Public and private-sector policies and practices have great potential to influence minority health and health disparities in positive and negative ways. Research that identifies successful strategies to reduce health disparities is unlikely to have a sustained or widespread impact unless it can directly inform and shape policy and practice. Conversely, the impact of new or existing policies on minority health and health disparities may not be evident in the absence of rigorous research evaluation. Research topics of specific interest include but are not limited to:
- Implementation and/or analysis of local, state, or national health policies that increase or reduce health disparities within a region, such as those related to insurance coverage or reimbursement, organization of government-run or -funded health care services, or regulation of environmental hazards.
- Implementation and/or analysis of local, state, or national policies not specifically related to health that increase or reduce health disparities within a region, including but not limited to those related to zoning or housing, public education, immigration, and criminal justice.
- Implementation and/or analysis of workplace policies in the public or private sector that impact health within a region.
- Identification of geographic, political, and socio-cultural factors that predict the success or impact of policy initiatives to reduce health disparities in different settings within a region.
- Examination of the process by which initiatives stemming from community-based participatory research or other community-based efforts translate into local, state, or regional policy change.
Regarding the regional collaborative approach, the Institute requires applications to describe the region on which the proposed work will focus. The TCC initiative is not intended to support activities that target a single neighborhood, municipal jurisdiction, or service provider site in isolation; rather, research projects and implementation and dissemination efforts must be regional in scope and placed in the context of consortium efforts to establish and sustain effective interventions on a regional or national level.
Identification of collaborating partners within and across the proposed region is required. In addition to academic institutions, the proposed TCC must involve a broad cross-section of partner organizations, such as community-based organizations, health care provider organizations, for-profit or non-profit organizations, government agencies and other key stakeholders. TCCs are strongly encouraged to identify and collaborate with other NIMHD grantees in the target region who have expertise and/or interest in health policy research or other resources that could be leveraged to help achieve TCC objectives. Along the same lines, TCCs are encouraged to collaborate with other federally-funded investigators within and outside the identified region as appropriate to promote optimal use of TCC resources for advancing the aims of the center.
A one-year planning phase and a four-year program implementation phase is required and is designed to: 1) solidify collaborative relationships with all partners for a regional organizational structure that will support research, implementation and dissemination activities; 2) fully assess existing research and outreach/dissemination capacity for the proposed activities, including scientific and administrative resources and needs; 3) identify and engage additional partners needed to fill identified gaps; 4) finalize procedures for soliciting, selecting and overseeing pilot research projects and identify initial projects to be supported, and 5) develop a detailed plan for executing the program implementation phase.
To ensure that TCCs contribute optimally and effectively to national minority health and health disparities research efforts, the overall direction and scope of activities supported by this initiative will be coordinated and monitored by a TCC Program Coordinating Committee consisting of TCC PIs/PDs and NIMHD program staff. The TCC Program Coordinating Committee will meet at least annually to assess progress toward program goals and promote information exchange across regions.
For more information and/or to apply see: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-MD-13-003.html.
NSF Summer Research Opportunities in Asia and the Pacific
The National Science Foundation (NSF) and selected foreign counterpart science and technology agencies sponsor international research institutes for U.S. graduate students in seven East Asia and Pacific locations at times set by the counterpart agencies between June and August each year. The Summer Institutes (EAPSI) operate similarly and the research visits to a particular location take place at the same time. Although applicants apply individually to participate in a Summer Institute, awardees become part of the cohort for each location. Applicants must propose a location, host scientist, and a research project that is appropriate for the host site and duration of the international visit.
An EAPSI award provides U.S. graduate students in science, engineering, and education: 1) first-hand research experiences in Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore or Taiwan; 2) an introduction to the science, science policy, and scientific infrastructure of the respective location; and 3) an orientation to the society, culture and language. It is expected that EAPSI awards will help students initiate professional relationships to enable future collaboration with foreign counterparts.
The NSF award includes participation in a pre-departure orientation, a summer stipend, and travel expenses to the research site. EAPSI partner agencies pay in-country living expenses during the Summer Institutes.
The full proposal deadline is December 6, 2012.
For more information contact: Elena Hillenburg, firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-292-2993; or Carter Kimsey, email@example.com or 703-292-7170.
The full solicitation is available at:
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