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Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS)
December 5, 2017

Part of your SBN dues support our membership in FABBS, which advocates for behavioral research funding by the federal government. Please renew your membership and see below for more details on the important activities your dues help support.


Visit the FABBS Website

Report from the field by Margaret M McCarthy, SBN FABBS Representative

As a dues paying member of the SBN you are also a participant in and supporter of FABBS, the only coalition of scientific societies focused specifically on advocacy for th e sciences of mind, brain, and behavior in the U.S. They advocate for the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior on Capitol Hill and with the federal agencies that fund our sciences. They educate federal representatives and Congress about the importance of research in our sciences; advocate for legislation and policies that enhance training and research; provide sources of expertise to federal agencies and Congress; encourage the sound use of science in the creation of public policy; and foster interactions between our member scientific societies and federal agencies.

So how does FABBS specifically impact the SBN?
  • SBN as a society has had the opportunity to sign on to many letters advocating for support for the behavioral sciences and at times opposing government policies such as the travel ban, tax policy etc.
  • As a participant in FABBS we have been involved in meetings with the director of NIMH and have had our voice heard at meetings with the leadership of NSF, FDA and other federal funding agencies.
  • Our research was represented at the 2016 FABBS Board of Directors meeting, educating other member societies of who and what we are.
  • In response to a request from FABBS our research was presented to a collection of NIH Program Officers and leaders cutting across every institute, greatly broadening our reach.
  • Our society was invited to participate in a new on-line journal published by FABBS called PIBBS (Policy Insights in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences). Below are links to policy pieces written by Heather Patisaul, Jeff Blaustein, Luke Remage-Healy, Sari Van Anders and Tonia Roth. Several more are in the works.
  • In 2016 one of our members (Tyler Stevenson) received an Early Career Impact Award from FABBS following our nomination.
  • We benefit from the tireless efforts of the FABBS staff (2) who do the hard work of advocacy, policy monitoring and data mining that we as individual scientists do not have the time or aptitude for.
Here are some of the activities FABBS has been involved in on our behalf:
In 2016 FABBS fought to:
  • Increase funding for the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Institute of Education Sciences in appropriations bills;
  • Oppose cuts to the Institute of Education Sciences and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in appropriations;
  • Ensure that House and Senate appropriations bills or reports do not include language or amendments that make targeted cuts to our sciences;
  • Convince the Senate to not advance the House reauthorization bill that contained massive cuts for NSF SBE;
  • Increase the reach of our sciences at NIH through society presentations to a cross-Institute coordinating body, meetings with new NIH leadership, and meetings with agency staff; and,
  • Connect our member societies to the latest information about our advocacy work, funding sources, federal jobs, agency strategic plans, and more.
In 2017 to-date FABBS has engaged in the following activities
  • FY 2017 Budget: We started 2017 with the federal government funded under a Continuing Resolution (essentially flat funding from the prior year). The idea in postponing a spending agreement was to allow the President a chance to weigh in on his priorities. In the end, Congress decided to move forward with its own priorities, and some of the federal science agencies of primary concern to us were not cut. NIH funding increased by $2B; NSF funding increased in the facilities line, but the research account line was held flat. The Institute of Education Sciences was cut by 2% for the fiscal year (which started Oct 1, 2016 and runs through Sept 30, 2017). Now that the FY 2017 budget is done, attention can now turn to FY 2018 (which starts on Oct 1, 2017).
  • President’s Budget Request: To launch the discussions on the FY 2018 budget, Congress usually waits until the President sends his budget request to Capitol Hill. Although the President sent an outline of the budget in March (called a “skinny” budget), the full budget details were not sent until May 22nd. The proposal intends to balance the budget in ten years, make significant cuts to domestic programs that fund science (as well as MANY other federal programs), and boost defense spending. Specifically, the proposal recommends the following cuts:
    • NIH: Cut 21% overall, and every Institute and Center is cut. The Fogarty International Center is eliminated, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is folded into NIH.
    • NSF: Cut 11% overall, and approximately an 11% cut to the research line (which includes all Directorates, except Education and Human Resources). The Education and Human Resources line would be cut 14%.
    • IES: Flat-funded in the President’s budget proposal, but since IES received a 2.1% cut in the recently signed FY 2017 omnibus spending bill, IES would actually receive an increase for FY 2018 under the President’s proposal.
  • Capitol Hill Meetings (Appropriations): The President’s budget proposal generally received a chilly reception on Capitol Hill. Since Congress must draft the spending bills, this is a positive sign. HOWEVER, the biggest issue driving the discussions on FY 2018 spending is the budget cap that limits the amount the federal government can spend each year over a ten-year period. The number for FY 2018 is lower than that for FY 2017. In recent meetings with Senate appropriations staff, we heard that the FY 2018 outlook is “going to be ugly” and that it’s not even about policy, but simply the numbers. One staff person added that they hope it’s not worse than the President’s budget, possible under a scenario that would boost defense and have the non-defense part of the budget absorb the cuts. Another staff member commented that the research lines would be cut before the facilities lines since “you can’t just turn the lights off in the building.” FABBS will continue to work with the broad scientific community to show the impact of budget cuts to science agencies, ask Congress to roll back the budget caps, and continue to push for parity between the defense and non-defense sides of the budget (meaning any cuts or increases are comparable and share the burden or benefits). We will also continue to reach out to scientists so that they can weigh in regarding how these cuts are affecting research, research jobs, universities, and communities back home in Congressional districts.
  • Short-Term Advocacy Support: FABBS has received funding from SAGE Publishing to expand our outreach on Capitol Hill. This will allow us to enhance our advocacy and engage the broader scientific community in our work over the coming months.
  • Coalition Activities: FABBS is involved in the following Coalitions, which ensure that the larger scientific community speaks with one voice, especially when our sciences are targeted for cuts.
    • Coalition for National Science Funding (NSF)
    • Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Funding (NIH funding broadly)
    • Friends of NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (NIH BSSR)
    • Friends of NIA, NICHD, AHRQ
    • Friends of IES (Institute of Education Sciences)
    • Coalition for Health Funding (Health and Human Service agencies)
    • American Brain Coalition
    • Coalition to Promote Research (responds to attacks on grant awards)
    • NDD United (ensures non-defense research is supported in the federal budget)
  • Capitol Hill Exhibition: As part of an effort to showcase the excellent research and training provided by National Science Foundation awards, FABBS sponsored two early career scientists in an exhibition and reception on Capitol Hill on May 16th. Joanna Christodoulou (Harvard and MGH Health Professions) and Tyler Perrachione (Boston University) discussed their research (and that of their mentor) on “Neuroscience Discoveries in Reading and Dyslexia.”
  • NIMH, NICHD, NIA, and OBSSR: We are continuing our outreach to several of the NIH Institutes as well as the NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. Through participation in Advisory Council and Professional Organization meetings, visits with agency staff, and involvement in Capitol Hill events featuring the agencies, we are tracking funding, as well as research directions and opportunities. We share updates with our societies through emails and our newsletter.
  • NSF: FABBS stays engaged with NSF in order to stay abreast of challenges and opportunities. In recent years, the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate faced a potential cut of 45% in one House bill, and the potential remains that tight funding in the next budget could again lead to targeted cuts, so we remain vigilant. Through meetings with SBE, the legislative office, the communications team, and the National Science Board, we are continuing to stay on top of the latest news and fascinating research that we can share on Capitol Hill. Related to this, I was invited (as FABBS Executive Director) to share with the NSF SBE Advisory Committee on May 19th FABBS’s perspective on legislative and communications issues faced by the social and behavioral sciences. In addition, FABBS and its member societies have been invited by SBE to participate in a meeting of professional societies on June 12th. The goal is to increase communications between scientific societies and NSF.
  • Institute of Education Sciences: As part of the Friends of IES Coalition, FABBS participated in a meeting with Lexi Hudson, who works in the policy office at the Dept. of Education and was part of the DoEd transition team. Lexi spoke to us on May 4th about the priorities of the Secretary and heard from the social and behavioral sciences community about our interest in education sciences and IES in particular.
  • March for Science: FABBS joined as a partner in the March for Science, helped to promote the event, and participated in the Washington, DC event on April 22nd. The March was a success in drawing attention to the need for investments in science; for science to guide policy decisions; and for science to remain non-partisan. There were over 600 satellite events around the world. A group of science CEO’s (including FABBS) is discussing post-March activities and possible coordination with the March organizers.
  • Webinar: To highlight the FABBS journal, Policy Insights in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences (in which member societies are invited to contribute), SAGE and FABBS sponsored a webinar entitled “ Marijuana on the Mind: A Primer for Policymakers” featuring researchers Staci Gruber (Harvard Medical School) and Kelly Sagar (McLean Hospital, Harvard). There were 139 live participants (many from government, including Canada), and 312 registrants that will have an opportunity to review the archived video.
  • 20th Anniversary Symposium, Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: FABBS is providing support for this event, which aims to bring together scientists, policymakers, and others. It will be held on October 19, 2017, and will feature a conversation with David Brooks (New York Times) and Daniel Gilbert (Harvard); insights from top scientists on new discoveries in behavioral science; and sessions showing the impact of behavioral science on some of the nation’s pressing problems.
  • Early Career Awards: FABBS is promoting the research conducted by our 2017 Early Career Impact Award winners (which were nominated by a subset of our member scientific societies). These early career scientists receive the award at their 2017 society meeting, and are interviewed by a science writer about their research. The articles are posted on the FABBS website, included in our monthly newsletter, and highlighted in our social media channels.

Pieces in PIBBS published by our members

Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Guest Editor: Margaret McCarthy
Volume 4, Issue 2, October 2017

Chemical Contributions to Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Heather B. Patisaul
First Published August 24, 2017; pp. 123–130

Treatments for Breast Cancer That Affect Cognitive Function in Postmenopausal Women
Jeffrey D. Blaustein
First Published August 24, 2017; pp. 170–177

Biological Sex, Gender, and Public Policy
Sari M. van Anders, Zach C. Schudson, Emma C. Abed, William J. Beischel, Emily R. Dibble, Olivia D. Gunther, Val J. Kutchko, Elisabeth R. Silver
First Published September 14, 2017; pp. 194–201

Epigenetic Advances in Behavioral and Brain Sciences Have Relevance for Public Policy
Tania L. Roth
First Published August 24, 2017; pp. 202–209

Species Diversity Matters in Biological Research
Luke Remage-Healey, Amanda A. Krentzel, Matheus Macedo-Lima, Daniel Vahaba
First Published August 24, 2017; pp. 210–218