As we enter 2014, I am pleased to announce the completion of the Office of Disease Prevention's (ODP) first strategic plan. After a year of hard work, this plan was approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director on January 2, 2014. We identified six strategic priorities, highlighted below, that will guide the work of the Office during 2014-2018:
- Systematically monitor NIH investments in prevention research and assess the progress and results of that research.
- Identify prevention research areas for investment or expanded effort by the NIH.
- Promote the use of the best available methods in prevention research and support the development of better methods.
- Promote collaborative prevention research projects and facilitate coordination of such projects across the NIH and with other public and private entities.
- Identify and promote the use of evidence-based interventions and promote the conduct of implementation and dissemination research in prevention.
- Increase the visibility of prevention research at the NIH and across the country.
The ODP has already begun to address several of these priorities. For Priority I, we have developed a taxonomy of prevention research, in collaboration with the NIH Prevention Research Coordinating Committee. Based on this taxonomy, we are working with the Office of Portfolio Analysis to develop tools to analyze the prevention research portfolio. Those tools will allow us to better monitor NIH investments in prevention research and assess the progress and results of that research.
As a first step to identify prevention research areas for investment or expanded effort by the NIH, for Priority II, we are working to strengthen the connection between the NIH and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The USPSTF, which provides evidence-based recommendations of preventive health care services, has become increasingly important in American healthcare with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. As the NIH liaison to the USPSTF, the ODP is working with NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) to ensure that timely input and feedback are provided to inform the development of the Task Force’s evidence reports and recommendations. We will also query the ICs to find out what they are doing related to evidence gaps identified in the USPSTF evidence reports and recommendation statements.
For Priority III, we are working with the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) to identify the appropriate methodological experts for invitation to serve on the study sections that review prevention research applications. We are also working with several professional organizations (e.g., Society for Prevention Research, Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health) to document the methods and content expertise of their members. The CSR will be able to use that information to identify individuals with expertise in particular methods and content areas who might participate in the review process. This approach will be beneficial in promoting the use of the best available methods in prevention research supported by the NIH.
For Priority IV, we are working with Program Directors across a number of ICs to develop a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for multilevel interventions to encourage physical activity. This FOA is an extension of our 2012 Physical Activity and Disease Prevention Workshop. It is just one step to promote collaborative prevention research projects at the NIH.
Even as the strategic plan unfolds, we are busy with our existing programs. The Tobacco Regulatory Science Program (TRSP) coordinates the trans-NIH effort with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products to conduct research to support the FDA’s regulatory authority over tobacco products. The TRSP was created after the passage of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act, which gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. The funding provided is for tobacco research, focusing on regulatory science, and is complementary to the existing tobacco research at the NIH. Earlier this year, the TRSP awarded 14 new Tobacco Centers for Regulatory Science and updated FOAs for both career development awards and research grant awards. For more information about the TRSP, visit the TRSP Funding Opportunities page.
In September, the ODP honored Moyses Szklo with the 2014 Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture in Epidemiology. Dr. Szklo spoke on Epidemiology: Back to Translation. In November, as part of our Medicine: Mind the Gap webinar series, Dr. William Shadish spoke on Strengths and Weaknesses of Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs. In addition, the ODP continued its liaison role for Healthy People 2020 and the Community Preventive Services Task Force, and worked closely with the Office of the Surgeon General to identify approaches for promoting the National Prevention Strategy.
The ODP will continue to update our website regularly with new information highlighting our activities about ongoing prevention research at the NIH and across the federal government. To receive notifications about ODP programs and activities, we recommend that you sign up for the ODP mailing list. We also encourage you to follow the ODP on Twitter.
David M. Murray, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Prevention
Director of the Office of Disease Prevention