Strategic Priority III Update

To enhance the quality of prevention research at the NIH, Strategic Priority III in the ODP Strategic Plan aims to promote the use of the best available methods in prevention research and support the development of prevention science tools that focus on methods, measures, and analytic techniques.

One focus of Strategic Priority III is to help Scientific Review Officers (SROs) at the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) identify experts in prevention science methods to include on their review panels. This will strengthen the panels and improve the quality of prevention research supported by the NIH. To identify experts in prevention science methods, we have developed the Prevention Research Expertise Survey (PRES), a tool that offers an opportunity for researchers to provide the NIH with a better understanding of their expertise. Researchers interested in completing the PRES will provide a voluntary self-assessment of their expertise in methodology, content areas, and population focus areas. In addition to capturing their methodological expertise, the PRES also allows respondents to attach their curriculum vitae (CV) or professional resumes. The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, and the ODP has received clearance from the Office of Management and Budget to collect this information.

The data collected by PRES will be used to populate a web-based electronic directory. The directory will help SROs identify researchers with expertise in specific prevention science methods and content areas and invite them to serve on NIH review panels. If the initial rollout with the CSR is successful, this system will also be shared with review staff in other NIH Institutes and Centers to help improve the quality of prevention research funded by the NIH. We encourage you to share this survey with your colleagues and other prevention research experts.

In an effort to engage the prevention research community in thought-provoking discussions about prevention science methods, the ODP also hosts the Methods: Mind the Gap seminar series. These seminars, presented via NIH VideoCast and also archived for later viewing, explore issues at the intersection of research, evidence, and clinical practice—areas in which conventional wisdom may be contradicted by recent evidence. I presented a seminar in October on Design and Analysis of Studies to Evaluate Multilevel Interventions in Public Health and Medicine. More recently, Dr. Stephanie Lanza from Pennsylvania State University discussed Time-Varying Effect Modeling to Study Developmental and Dynamic Processes. Upcoming seminar topics include mediation analysis, intervention taxonomy and opportunities for pooled analyses, big data, and single case designs.

Each year, the Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture series, established in 1995, honors a scientist who has contributed significantly to the field of epidemiology or clinical trials research. The Lectureship is awarded by the NIH on the advice of the ODP and the recommendation of the Epidemiology & Clinical Trials Interest Group. I am happy to announce that the 2016 Award Winner is Michael B. Bracken, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.E., from the Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Bracken will speak on Inefficiency and Waste in Biomedical Research: How Prevalent Is It, What Are Its Causes, and How Is It Prevented? on April 20, 2016, on the NIH campus. This presentation will also be available via NIH VideoCast.

Additional plans for Strategic Priority III include developing NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements that encourage innovative and improved approaches to prevention science and working with stakeholders to identify and disseminate “best practices” in prevention science methods. We are hopeful that the ODP’s efforts will increase awareness of and training in the use of newer and more efficient approaches to research design, intervention development, measurement, and analysis.

David M. Murray, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Prevention
Director of the Office of Disease Prevention