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FY 1997 Senate Appropriations Report: Excerpts From Report 104-368

NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

The Committee is concerned about the future supply of the Nation’s health researchers, and believes that NIH [must] continue efforts to ensure a stable supply of highly qualified research scientists.

The National Academy of Sciences, in its latest report, recommended that NIH increase the number of scientists in behavioral science, nursing research, health services research, and oral health research. The Committee encourages NIH to make a focused effort to train young scientists in these critical areas and to consider small grant programs to provide support to new investigators.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome [SIDS]-SIDS, the leading cause of death for infants under 1 year of age, continues to be a concern of the Committee. The Committee is pleased to learn that the Institute’s Back to Sleep campaign, convincing parents to put babies to sleep on their backs or sides, rather than on their stomachs, has reduced the number of SIDS deaths in the Nation. This campaign has played a major role in the 4 percent decline in infant mortality in 1993-94, to an all-time low of7.9 per 1000 live births. To continue this progress, the Committee has urged the NICHD to make funding available for the third year of the second SIDS five-year research plan. These plans, developed in collaboration with the SIDS scientific and advocacy community, have provided guidance, structure, and support to the NICHD SIDS research program.

The “Back to Sleep” campaign also illustrates the value of behavioral and social science research: meta-analyses of SIDS studies revealed the role of sleeping position in infant deaths; the concept of changing parents’ behavior toward their babies and changing what pediatricians tell parents is based on the social psychology of attitude change research and persuasive communication; and the intervention itself–changing sleeping position- is a behavioral one. The Committee encourages NICHD to continue its efforts to reach all populations to reduce SIDS deaths.

Training-As part of its effort to ensure the future supply of essential research personnel, the Committee encourages the NICHD to support an initiative such as B/START (behavioral science track awards for rapid transition), aimed at younger behavioral science researchers.

Learning disabilities- The Committee is pleased to recognize the important discoveries NICHD has made in identifying the causes of and best interventions for reading disabilities. The Committee commends this research, and encourages its quick dissemination.

National Institute on Aging

Training-As part of its effort to ensure the future supply of essential research personnel, the Committee encourages the NIA to support an initiative such as B/START (behavioral science track awards for rapid transition), aimed at younger behavioral science researchers.

Applied gerontology centers-The Committee encourages NIA’s commitment to the Edward R. Roybal applied gerontology centers, where research critical to the functional independence of our elderly citizens is being conducted, as’ recommended in the NIA human capital initiative report, “Vitality for Life.” Scientists in these centers are involved in such topics as developing ways to help older citizens use medications correctly, training older workers in technology-driven work environments, training older adults to use computers generally, and developing visual screening tasks for older drivers along with training techniques to improve attention and prevent accidents. The Roybal centers represent the important translation of many years of basic NIH research into applications that improve the lives of older Americans.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Training-Since behavioral factors are integral to a1coholism and alcohol abuse, the Committee encourages NIAAA to begin an initiative to support newer behavioral researchers, such as B/START (behavioral science track awards for rapid transition).

Behavioral research- The Committee is interested to learn that Project MATCH, the Institute’s clinical trial of patient-treatment matching and treatment effectiveness, is approaching completion, and requests that the NIAAA be prepared to report on the results of this important research during the fiscal year 1998 budget hearings.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Behavioral research-The Committee understands that behavioral research is essential to solving problems of drug abuse and addiction, and that behavioral and psychosocial interventions are the most frequently administered treatments for drug addiction and in some cases, are the only available treatment. The Committee commends NIDA for expanding both its basic and clinical behavioral science activities in order to better identity who may be at risk for falling victim to drugs, and to develop effective approaches for breaking the cycle of addiction. Of particular interest are NIDA’s behavioral therapies development program, which applies the same controlled evaluation process as is used in evaluating new medications to the assessment of behavioral therapies. The Committee also commends NIDA’s initiatives in the fight against AIDS/HIV because of the increasing link between HIV infection and drug use and related behaviors.

.. .The Committee notes that NIDA has initiated the B/START program to increase the supply of young investigators in behavioral science. The Committee is pleased to see that NIDA has initiated this program, which invites newly independent investigators to submit applications for small scale pilot research projects related to the behavioral science mission.

National Institute of Mental Health

Clinical experiences-The Committee appreciates that a great deal of basic behavioral research can be brought to bear on the most serious of mental disorders and encourages NIMH to develop mechanisms to build a generation of basic behavioral researchers who are sensitive to clinical issues. For example, the Committee encourages the Institute to give consideration to allowing non-clinical graduate students in psychology and other behavioral sciences to have research experiences on NIMH grants in medical settings. Similarly, for clinical psychology programs, particularly those housed outside of medical schools, the Committee encourages NIMH to provide student support for research in settings in which severe mental disorders are the focus.

Research plans-The Committee is pleased to learn that NIMH supported the development of a behavioral science research plan aimed at reducing depression, schizophrenia, and other severe mood and anxiety disorders. The plan, “Reducing Mental Disorders: A Behavioral Science Research Plan for Psychopathology,” was developed under the auspices of the human capital initiative and has been endorsed by an impressive range of scientific organizations. The Committee urges NIMH to use the plan in determining its research priorities, and requests the Institute to be prepared to report on how it intends to use the plan during the fiscal year 1988 hearings. Finally, the Committee reiterates its support for the National Advisory Mental Health Council’s report, “Basic Behavioral Science Research for Mental Health: A National Investment.” In particular, the Committee supports recommendations to fund more investigator-initiated behavioral research, provide new funding mechanisms for longitudinal behavioral research, and expand study sections for the best possible review of behavioral science.

Office of the [NIH] Director

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research- The Committee is pleased that the OBSSR has established a research training task force. The Committee encourages the Office to work with NIH Institutes to develop small grants programs for young investigators, such as the B/START program. The Committee believes that funds for such programs should not be allocated from within existing behavioral science research funds.

National research service awards- The Committee notes that the National Academy of Sciences recommended in its most recent assessment of the Nation’s need for biomedical and behavioral researchers that NIH increase the number of NRSA awards in behavioral science, nursing research, health services research, and oral health research, while keeping the number of NRSA awards in the basic biomedical sciences at fiscal year 1993 levels. The Committee requests that the Director report to the Committee on NIH’s response to the recommendations, progress in implementation, and timetable for completion prior to the fiscal year 1988 hearings.

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

The Committee commends the Director’s efforts to promote behavioral and social sciences research at CDC and for creating the position of Assistant Director for Behavioral and Social Sciences. The Committee believes that such research is integral to the CDC mission. With the Committee’s support, a similar office of behavioral and social sciences research was created at the National Institutes of Health. It has proven effective in identifying promising new directions for research. The Committee requests the Director to provide a status report on CDC’s activities relating to behavioral and social sciences research.

Observer Vol.9, No.6 November, 1996

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