In this Issue

Advocacy update

NIDA and NIAAA stay independent structure-wise, neuroscience initiative by White House, and APA advocacy training and congressional visits highlight research on primates.

By V. Vatsalya and Veronica Schmidt, BS
  1. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy briefed social and behavioral science community in January 2013. Dr. Philip Rubin, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)’s principal assistant director for science, discussed the need for continued engagement from scientific societies as the issue of budget sequestration looms again this spring. On Jan. 10, high-level scientists from the White House OSTP briefed APA Science Government Relations staff and colleagues on a broad range of issues relevant to the social and behavioral science community. Rubin convened the meeting to update representatives from scientific associations on the administration’s neuroscience initiative; OSTP priority areas for the new term related to scientific innovation, infrastructure, education and workforce diversity; and the need for continued engagement from scientific societies as the issue of budget sequestration looms again this spring.
  2. NIH abandons plan to replace NIDA and NIAAA with new institute. NIH Director Francis Collins announced in mid-November that NIH would pursue only a functional rather than a structural integration of substance use, abuse and addiction research. A plan to replace the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) with the National Institute on Substance Use and Addictive Disorders (NISUAD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fell apart unexpectedly in mid-November. The news caught the scientific community by surprise as it had been led to believe that NIH would soon be releasing a draft strategic plan for the new institute as well as a much-anticipated portfolio analysis indicating which areas of the current NIH substance use research portfolio would be included in the new institute. The reorganization had been controversial from the start and while APA never took a position on whether or not NIH should pursue a structural reorganization, we took early and frequent opportunities to question the process. A brief description of the new Trans-NIH Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction Functional Integration is available on the NIH Feedback website. In addition, a scientific strategic plan, which emerged from stakeholder input in response to a Request for Information, will be used as a starting point to move integration efforts forward in several areas cited as new opportunities for the basic, prevention and treatment sciences as well as the medical consequences of substance use, abuse and addiction.
  3. APA advocacy training and congressional visits highlight research with chimpanzees. On Oct. 2, 2012, members of APA’s Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE) along with CARE Early Career Fellows made 14 visits to Capitol Hill offices. The scientists encouraged their members’ offices to avoid the looming across-the-board cuts that will happen on Jan. 2 if Congress does not override them, and to oppose the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (GAPCSA) when it is reintroduced in the next session of Congress. On Sunday, Oct. 1, members of APA’s Science Government Relations Office conducted advocacy training and prepped the committee for their meetings the following day.

Other Headlines

Upcoming Senate vote on the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) was initially enacted in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994; it is the first U.S. federal law to acknowledge domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes and to provide federal resources encouraging coordinated community responses to combat violence. Despite successful reauthorizations in 2000 and 2005, efforts in the last session of Congress to reauthorize VAWA ultimately were not successful. Throughout the multiyear legislative process, APA's Public Interest Government Relations Office advocated for the most comprehensive reauthorization, including key health provisions and protections for vulnerable populations. APA members, colleagues, and governance members played a critical role in advocating for VAWA reauthorization by contacting their congressional representatives and sharing invaluable professional expertise.

Sharp rise in admissions for certain drug combinations over 10 years. Substance abuse treatment admissions for addiction involving combined use of benzodiazepine and narcotic pain relievers grew by a total of 569.7 percent, to 33,701, from 2000 to 2010, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Overall substance abuse treatment admissions of people ages 12 and older in the same period rose 4 percent, to 1.82 million, the agency said.

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Specific information regarding the federal budget is available via a dedicated Federal Budget Blog provided by the APA Science Government Relations Office.

Learn more about the history of the APA Science Government Relations Office advocacy efforts.