May 5, 2015    Volume 34, Issue 8

In This Issue
Anti-Science COMPETES Bill Heads to House Floor
COSSA and Partners Advocate for Social Science Funding and Sound Scientific Policies
NIH Appears before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
ACS to Retain Marriage, Field of Degree Questions Proposed for Elimination
White House Seeks Input on Using Science and Technology to Improve the Lives of Older Americans
Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable Named Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
NIH: NIMHD Seeking Input for Health Disparities Science Vision
NIH: Input Sought on Precision Medicine Cohort
APA Briefing Explains the Psychology behind False Confessions

featured News

Anti-Science COMPETES Bill Heads to House Floor

On April 23, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee passed along party lines (19 Republicans to 16 Democrats) the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806).  According to Committee Chairman and sponsor of the legislation Lamar Smith (R-TX), H.R. 1806 is a "pro-science and fiscally responsible bill."  It prioritizes basic research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), while keeping funding levels within Congressionally-set discretionary spending limits.  For NSF, the bill would increase funding for the Biological Sciences (BIO), Engineering (ENG), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorates at the expense of other NSF accounts, including Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) and Geosciences (GEO).  See COSSA's analysis of H.R. 1806 for more information. COSSA strongly opposes H.R. 1806 and issued a statement expressing our concerns.

Read on for more on the markup.


COSSA and Partners Advocate for Social Science Funding and Sound Scientific Policies

COSSA has joined with its partner organizations and coalitions on several letters to Congress urging increased funding for social and behavioral science programs and sound scientific policies. Recent letters addressing fiscal year (FY) 2016 funding and scientific conference travel can be viewed here.

Congressional News

NIH Appears Before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee

On April 30, National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins made his annual appearance before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) to discuss the President's proposed FY 2016 budget request for the agency. The NIH director was accompanied by several institute directors: Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Douglas Lowy, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Gary Gibbons, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Jon Lorsch, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and Tom Insel, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).


Read on for more details.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Releases Second Version of 21st Century Cures Draft


On April 29, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations released the second iteration of the Committee's 21st Century Cures bill (see Update, February 24, 2015).  The latest draft is a collaborative effort by Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), Energy and Commerce full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX).


The new version of the discussion draft would authorize the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for three years (FY 2016 through FY 2018), and increase its funding level by $1.5 billion each year.  It also creates an NIH Innovation Fund for FY 2016 through FY 2020, financed by a mandatory appropriation of $2 billion a year.  The Innovation Fund would be used to support precision medicine, young emerging investigators, and other priorities yet to be identified.

The section-by-section summary of the discussion draft is available online here.  A one-page summary is available online here.

FEderal Agency & Administration News

ACS to Retain Marriage, Field of Degree Questions Proposed for Elimination

The Census Bureau will retain several questions in the American Community Survey (ACS) originally identified for removal: Person Question No. 12, undergraduate field of degree, and Person Question Nos. 21-23, which are related to marital history. The questions were proposed for elimination as part of the Bureau's 2014 Content Review of the ACS and were released to the public for comment in the fall (see Update, November 3, 2014). COSSA objected to the removal of these questions in a written comment, as did many other organizations in the scientific community.

Read on for more details.

White House Seeks Input on Using Science and Technology to Improve the Lives of Older Americans

In preparation for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Domestic Policy Council are seeking input on science and technology initiatives that can improve the quality of life for older Americans. Examples of such activities might include:

  • Expanded university and industry research and development to address challenges associated with aging
  • Educational programs that help designers create "person-centered" products and services for older Americans
  • Efforts to promote an "innovation ecosystem" for older Americans, which might involve accelerators, incubators, well-designed incentive prizes, and mechanisms for researchers and entrepreneurs to get rapid feedback on their proposed solutions
  • The identification of one or more Grand Challenges around aging - ambitious but achievable goals that would significantly improve the health, independence, and quality of life for older Americans.

More information about the request for input is available here. Responses can be submitted through this form by May 22. 

Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable Named Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities


On April 28, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis S. Collins announced the selection of Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D. as Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).  He is expected to join NIH in September.


Currently at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Pérez-Stable is a professor of medicine, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, and director of the Center for Aging in Diverse Communities. He is also director of the UCSF Medical Effectiveness Research Center for Diverse Populations, which is addressing issues for African Americans, Asians, and Latinos in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and reproductive health.  His personal research interest is in improving the health of poor and minority patients, reducing health risks such as smoking in minority populations, and improving cross-cultural communication skills among health care professionals.


Announcing Pérez-Stable's appointment, Collins noted that "Eliseo is a highly respected leader with rich experience in advancing efforts to eliminate health disparities.  He has the passion and vision to guide the NIMHD research agenda in this critically important area."


Collins also recognized and thanked Acting NIMHD Director Yvonne T. Maddox for her "exemplary and dedicated service of leading the NIMHD efforts over the last year."  He also announced that Maddox is moving on to become Vice President for Research at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. 

Funding Opportunities

NIH: NIMHD Seeking Input for Health Disparities Science Vision

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) serves as the focal point for the agency's conduct of research, research training, capacity-building, and outreach dissemination of minority health and health disparities. NIMHD recently initiated a scientific planning process in collaboration with the NIH institutes and centers designed to define a vision that will guide the development of "the science of health disparities research for the next decade and identify key research areas that should be given high priority because knowledge in those areas might inform translational efforts that could have a significant impact on reducing health disparities."


To that end, NIMHD has issued a time-sensitive request for information (RFI), Soliciting Input into the NIH Science Vision for Health Disparities Research (NOT-MD-15-006). The Institute is seeking conceptual input regarding the science vision for health disparities research. Comments are being specifically sought regarding key research areas that might address the complexity of the multiple, interacting factors that often generate and perpetuate health disparities.

Read on for more details.

NIH: Input Sought on Precision Medicine Cohort

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking feedback from the scientific community via a Request for Information (RFI): NIH Precision Medicine Cohort (NOT-OD-15-096) to guide it in creating a longitudinal cohort of one million or more Americans who have volunteered to participate in research as part of the President's proposed Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) (see Update, April 21, 2015).

Specifically, the agency is seeking information on characteristics, purpose, or other overall aspects in the development and implementation of a large U.S. precision medicine cohort. As participants in PMI, individuals will be asked to give consent for extensive characterization of biologic specimens and behavioral and environmental data, all linked to their electronic health records (EHRs). Qualified researchers will have access to the cohort's de-identified data for research and analysis.

Read on for more details.

COSSA Member Spotlight

APA Briefing Explains the Psychology behind False Confessions 

The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA governing member, held a Congressional briefing on April 29, in conjunction with the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Exhibition. The briefing featured Saul Kassin, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (also a COSSA member), who spoke about his research on false confessions. Kassin observed that it is often difficult for people to understand why someone would admit to a crime they did not commit. However, in his analysis of a database of convictions overturned by DNA evidence, Kassin found that more than a quarter of the wrongly convicted individuals had made a confession.


Kassin's talk was divided into two sections: "Why innocent people confess" and "Why confessions trump innocence." In the first section, he described some of the harrowing experiences of individuals who had been wrongly convicted after confessing and explained some of the factors that put suspects at risk of making a false confession. These include vulnerability of the suspect, interrogation tactics like lying about evidence or prolonging the interview, and suspects' belief that the fact their innocence will absolve them of charges, regardless of what they do or say during the police interrogation. In the second section of his talk, Kassin noted that for most people, a confession means that a person is guilty. However, few people can differentiate a false confession from a real one, and juries are overwhelmingly swayed by confessions-even in cases where they are told to disregard it. Furthermore, innocent people who have confessed are more likely to take a guilty plea than those who have not, because they know how strongly their confession will count against them in the courtroom.

Events Calendar 

National Science Board Meeting, Arlington, VA, May 5-6, 2015

2015 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Lecture, Washington, DC, May 7, 2015

American Association for Public Opinion Research Annual Conference, Hollywood, FL, May 14-17, 2015

NSF Education and Human Resources Advisory Committee Meeting, Arlington, VA, May 19-20, 2015

Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, May 28-31, 2015

OBSSR 20th Anniversary Celebration, Bethesda, MD, June 23-25, 2015

OBSSR Capitol Hill Exhibition & Reception, Washington, DC, June 24, 2015

American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Toronto, Canada, August 6-9, 2015

Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Madison, WI, August 6-9, 2015

American Statistical Association Joint Statistical Meetings, Seattle, WA, August 8-13, 2015

American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, August 22-25, 2015


A list of COSSA members' annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA website. COSSA members who have an upcoming event they would like to see listed in the Events Calendar and on our website should send an email to

Consortium of Social Science Associations 

Governing Members  

American Anthropological Association
American Association for Public Opinion Research
American Economic Association
American Educational Research Association
American Historical Association
American Political Science Association
American Psychological Association
American Society of Criminology
American Sociological Association
American Statistical Association
Association of American Geographers
Association of American Law Schools
Law and Society Association
Linguistic Society of America
Midwest Political Science Association
National Communication Association
Population Association of America
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Society for Research in Child Development
Membership Organizations
Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
American Evaluation Association
American Finance Association
American Psychosomatic Society
Association for Asian Studies
Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations
Association of Research Libraries
Council on Social Work Education
Economic History Association
History of Science Society
Justice Research and Statistics Association
Midwest Sociological Society
National Association of Social Workers
North American Regional Science Council
Rural Sociological Society
Social Science History Association
Society for Research on Adolescence
Society for Social Work and Research
Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Society of Behavioral Medicine
Southern Political Science Association
Southern Sociological Society
Southwestern Social Science Association
Centers and Institutes

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Political and Social Science
American Council of Learned Societies
American Institutes for Research
The Brookings Institution
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences
Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
Institute for Social Science Research,
        University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Institute for Women's Policy Research
NORC at the University of Chicago
Owens Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Georgia
Population Reference Bureau
RTI International
Social Science Research Council
Vera Institute of Justice

Colleges and Universities  
Arizona State University
Boston University
Brown University
Carnegie Mellon University
Clark University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Duke University
Fielding Graduate University
George Mason University
Georgetown University
Harvard University
Indiana University
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Johns Hopkins University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Michigan State University
New York University
Northwestern University
Pennsylvania State University
Princeton University
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Stanford University
Stony Brook University, SUNY
Texas A&M University
The George Washington University
The Ohio State University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Chicago
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Illinois
University of Iowa
University of Maryland
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Missouri
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Oklahoma
University of Pennsylvania
University of South Carolina
University of Texas, Austin
University of Texas, San Antonio
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin, Madison
West Virginia University
Yale University


    Executive Director:  Wendy A. Naus
Deputy DirectorAngela L. Sharpe
Assistant Director for Public Affairs: Julia Milton

Address all inquiries to COSSA at newsletter@cossa.orgTelephone: (202) 842-3525


The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) is a nonprofit advocacy organization working to promote sustainable federal funding for social and behavioral science research and federal policies that positively impact the conduct of research.


ISSN 0749-4394. 

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