Washington Update
Week of December 7 - 11
Office of Research

Appropriations Update
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee released a five-day continuing resolution, funding the government through midnight on December 16. The Senate passed the measure on Thursday, and the House approved it earlier today. The President has stated he will sign the measure.

Congress will return to work on Monday, when House and Senate negotiators hope to file a final FY16 Omnibus deal. If a bill is filed, Members will then take a few days to go over the Omnibus, and would vote a final Omnibus deal mid-week next week.However, it is unclear if a final deal will be reached.

NIH Releases Request for Information on Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program

On December 9, the NIH released a request for information on the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program. The NIH is seeking input on identifying or establishing a system for conducting a physical evaluation and collecting biospecimens from Direct Volunteers for the PMI Cohort Program.

The NIH seeks comment on any or all of the following topics:
  • Strategies for creating an infrastructure to cost effectively administer a brief, standardized baseline physical evaluation and collect blood and urine biospecimens from Direct Volunteers located anywhere in the United States. Approaches to ensure diversity and participation of all volunteers and their convenience.
  • Strategies for distributing standardized biospecimen collection kits to healthcare workers performing the baseline health examinations or to Direct Volunteers.
  • Strategies for meeting pre-analytic requirements of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and assuring biospecimen quality and integrity after collection, including consideration of processing site(s), with strategies and justification for distributed versus centralized biospecimen processing, followed by shipment to the PMI Cohort Program Biobank.
  • Information on issues of protocol standardization, and quality control of specimen handling and chain of custody.
  • Cost estimates for providing these services.
Responses are due by Friday, January 15, 2016. Further information is available here.
Senate Confirms New Head of DoE Office of Science

This week, the Senate confirmed Dr. Cherry Murray to head the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the federal government's largest funder of physical science. The White House announced her nomination to head the Office of Science on August 5, 2015. Most recently, Dr. Murray served as the Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard. She also spent 26 years at Bell Laboratory where she rose to serve as Senior Vice President for Physical Sciences and Wireless Research.
Senator Jeff Flake Releases Report of "Wasteful Federal Spending"

On Tuesday, December 8, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released his report on what he deems "wasteful federal spending", titled "Wastebook: The Farce Awakens". Senator Flake's report is modeled after the annual 'Wastebook' put together by now-retired Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). Like Senator Coburn's wastebook, this 290-page report targets federal spending the Senator deems wasteful, including research supported by NSF, NIH, NASA, DoD and USDA.
Nomination Announcements

National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting nominations for vacancies on the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology. The Council provides advice to the EPA Administrator on a broad range of environmental policy, management and technology issues. EPA is seeking nominees with a strong background in citizen science, crowd source monitoring and technologies, community sustainability, environmental justice and economic initiatives, ecology and biodiversity, public health, social science, and environmental policy and management.

Nomination deadline: Friday, January 15, 2016. Further information is available here.

National Institute of Standards and Technology Federal Advisory Committees

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting nominations for appointment to eight existing Federal Advisory Committees:
  • Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board
  • National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee
  • Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction
  • NIST Smart Grid Advisory Committee
  • Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
Nominations will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Further information is available here.

Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science
The Department of the Interior (DOI) is seeking nominations for membership on the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science. The twenty-five member board provides advice on matters and actions relating to the operations of the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the DOI Climate Science Centers.

Nomination deadline: Friday, January 15, 2016. Further information is available here.

Council on Graduate Medical Education

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accpeting nominations to fill vacancies on the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME). The COGME provides advice and recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services and members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on matters related to: supply of physicians in the U.S., physician workforce trends, training issues, and financing policies.

The agency will receive nominations on a continuous basis. Further information is available here.
Fellowship Announcements

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program

The National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting applications for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. The SURF Program provides research opportunities for students to work with NIST scientists and engineers in their Gaithersburg, MD and Boulder, CO laboratories. The program runs mid-May through the end of July (Boulder) or beginning of August (Gaithersburg).

Application deadline: Friday, February 12, 2016. Further information is available here.

American Institute of Physics Congressional Fellowship Program

Qualified scientists at any age of their career are encouraged to apply for the American Institute of Physics Congressional Fellowship Program. Applicants must have a PH.D. in physics or a closely related field. AIP Fellows have the opportunity to work at the US State Department or in Congress for one year beginning in the fall of 2016.

Application deadline: Friday, January 15. Further information is available here and here.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship Program

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, potentially transformative, and scalable models for STEM graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that ensure that graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The NRT program includes two tracks: the Traineeship Track and the Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) Track.

Letters of intent are due by close of business on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. The full proposal deadline is February 9, 2016. Further information is available here.

Society for Research in Child Development Policy Fellowship

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) is accepting applications for two types of policy fellowships: Congressional and Executive Branch. The fellowships are geared for individuals with a doctorate from any discipline relevant to child development. Early and mid-career professionals are encouraged to apply.

Application deadline: Tuesday, December 15. For more information, please click here.
Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Science Internships
The DoE Office of Science and the Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists are accepting applications for the 2016 Summer Term Internship/Fellowship Programs. There are two programs accepting applications:
  • The Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program encourages undergraduate students to pursue STEM careers by providing research experiences, under the guidance of laboratory/facility staff scientists or engineers, on projects supporting the DOE mission.  More information and the online application is available here
  • The Visiting Faculty Program (VFP) seeks to increase the research competitiveness of faculty members and their students at institutions historically underrepresented in the research community in order to expand the workforce vital to the DOE mission areas. In this program, selected university/college faculty members collaborate with DOE laboratory research staff on a research project of mutual interest. Faculty member participants may invite up to two students (one of which may be a graduate student) to participate in the research project. More information and the online application is available here.
Application deadline for both programs: 5:00 PM EST on Friday, January 8, 2016.
News Articles
Proposed budget cuts would imperil academic research
Our bipartisan bid to spur medical research still bearing fruit after 35 years
Science a waste of money? “Wastebook” misses big picture
Let's stop pretending peer review works
The Assault on Climate Science
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