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Director's Messages

2016 Annual Review

The ODP Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2014–2018, comprised of six strategic priorities, focuses heavily on the development of resources for the NIH prevention community and external stakeholders. We have just reached the mid-course of this Strategic Plan and the ODP continues to work hard to address the six priorities. I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the accomplishments for each priority in 2016 and provide an update on the Tobacco Regulatory Science Program (TRSP).

Strategic Priority I: Systematically monitor NIH investments in prevention research and assess the progress and results of that research.

The ODP established a taxonomy for prevention research to analyze the NIH prevention research portfolio and developed the Prevention Abstract Classification Tool (PACT), a custom, web-based software tool to facilitate a team coding process for data collection. To date, over 6,500 Type 1 R01 abstracts from Fiscal Years 2010–15 have been classified according to the taxonomy, and a manuscript summarizing the results is under review, with additional manuscripts in preparation. The ODP has also collaborated with the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis (OPA) to automate the coding process through machine learning. Algorithms being used to distinguish between prevention and non-prevention grants have reached 87% accuracy.

Strategic Priority II: Identify prevention research areas for investment or expanded effort by the NIH.

The ODP works to identify needs in prevention research and develop and sustain partnerships with program and scientific staff in NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices, as well as key external stakeholders, such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF). The ODP also works closely with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide advice and research direction for the national Healthy People initiative. The ODP compares research needs to the current NIH portfolio and collaborates with NIH ICs to identify opportunities for investment or expanded effort to close research gaps.

Additionally, the ODP provides the leadership, funding, and coordination necessary to conduct the Pathways to Prevention (P2P) program to identify research gaps in a selected scientific area, identify methodological and scientific weaknesses in that area, and move the field forward through an unbiased, evidence-based assessment of a complex public health issue. In 2016, the ODP hosted the Pathways to Prevention Workshop: Advancing Research to Prevent Youth Suicide and the Panel’s Final Report from this workshop is posted on the ODP website. In addition, the ODP hosted Federal Partners Meetings for two previous P2P workshops: The Role of Opioids in the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Advancing Research on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Reports from both of these Federal Partners Meetings are available on the ODP website.

Strategic Priority III: Promote the use of the best available methods in prevention research and support the development of better methods.

The ODP works to enhance the quality of prevention research at the NIH by promoting the use of the best available methods in prevention research and by supporting the development of prevention science tools that focus on methods, measures, and analytic techniques. In support of this goal, the ODP developed a database of NIH prevention methods training opportunities with over 100 resources. One of the resources, developed by the ODP, is a free, 7-part self-paced online course titled Pragmatic and Group-Randomized Trials in Public Health and Medicine. The ODP continues to promote its Prevention Research Expertise Survey (PRES), to identify methods experts in the extramural community. This resource will be used by Scientific Review Officers at the Center for Scientific Review to identify prevention science experts they may wish to invite to participate on review panels. The ODP hosted ten Methods: Mind the Gap webinars in 2016 that explored research design, measurement, intervention, data analysis, and other methods of interest to prevention science. The ODP Early-Stage Investigator Lecture was established to recognize early-career prevention scientists who have already made substantial, outstanding research contributions to their respective fields and are poised to become future leaders in prevention research. Additionally, the ODP hosted the annual Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture. The 2016 recipient was Michael B. Bracken, Ph.D., M.P.H., who presented, “Inefficiency and Waste in Biomedical Research: How Prevalent Is It, What Are Its Causes, and How Is It Prevented?” The 2017 recipient is Robert Schiffman, M.D., M.P.H., who will present on May 3 on “The Changing Epidemiology of HPV and Cervical Cancer: From Etiology, to Validation of Prevention Methods, to Dissemination.”

Strategic Priority IV: Promote collaborative prevention research projects and facilitate coordination of such projects across the NIH and with other public and private entities.

Over the past year, the ODP identified five successful models of collaborative research that were used to reorganize the Prevention Research Coordinating Committee (PRCC), and develop new prevention Scientific Interest Groups (SIGs). The SIGs focus on five areas for which no trans-NIH or federal group exists to address prevention research. These areas include screening in children; screening in adults; the genetics of prevention; environment and policy-level interventions; and interventions to prevent or delay the onset of comorbid diseases. In addition, the NIH is working within two trans-NIH groups on tobacco and physical activity to address prevention research gaps in these areas. Anticipated products include Funding Opportunity Announcements, workshops, identification of relevant resources, and enhancements to the ODP website to highlight prevention research in these areas.

The ODP provides co-funding for a range of prevention research efforts including meetings, research grants, intramural projects, Healthy People 2020-related projects, systematic reviews, and public/private partnerships. In 2016, the ODP provided co-funding support for 33 applications, an increase of 13 over 2015. This included funding four training workshops on prevention research methods; three national prevention-related conferences; and six NIH-supported meetings on various topics including dissemination and implementation research on walking and walkability and the effects of Mediterranean dietary patterns on disease. 2016 also marked the first time the ODP provided co-funding for NIH grants outside of conference grants. These grants supported two intramural projects as well as clinical trials in weight control and infertility, weight control for pregnant women, the DASH-Sodium trial in adolescents, and cotinine analysis in pregnant women.

The ODP provided input on strategic planning activities by NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices to enhance prevention components, including the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan. Participation in this and other activities has elevated the focus on prevention across NIH.

Strategic Priority V: Identify and promote the use of evidence-based interventions and promote the conduct of implementation and dissemination research in prevention.

The ODP created a new section on the ODP website that focuses on dissemination and implementation (D&I) research. The resources for the D&I research section includes a selection of recent, peer-reviewed prevention research articles on D&I. A new D&I Research Highlight features prevention research activities, scientific advances, and resources from the NIH and other federal partners that pertain to D&I research. A list of Evidence-Based Practices and Programs identifies several databases and other resources that provide information to community planners and implementers, health care and public health professionals, policymakers, and researchers to promote public health using evidence-based strategies. The ODP also developed partnerships that have improved the understanding of the D&I landscape at the NIH and in the extramural community, and has allowed the ODP to work collaboratively to incorporate prevention components into the D&I research agenda and activities. The ODP joined 17 other NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices on three Funding Opportunity Announcements for D&I Research in Health. The ODP also provided co-funding for the Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health, and assisted in planning the Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health.

Strategic Priority VI: Increase the visibility of prevention research at the NIH and across the country.

The ODP continues to focus on disseminating information to broaden the scientific and public health impact of the NIH prevention research portfolio. New sections were added to the Resources for Researchers section of the ODP website, including a list of prevention-related funding opportunity announcements; prevention-related programs, offices, and divisions; NIH training opportunities in prevention research methods; and resources for dissemination and implementation research. An ongoing list of presentations that I have made to various audiences at key meetings and seminars was also added.

The office collaborates with federal stakeholders and assists in promoting their prevention-related activities, including the National Nutrition Research Roadmap and Healthy People webinars. In an effort to increase our outreach, the ODP continues to promote its programs, events, and resources via a variety of communication tools including social media, eblasts, web badges, newsletter inserts, and poster presentations.

Tobacco Regulatory Science Program (TRSP)

2016 marked a busy and productive year for tobacco regulatory research. On May 5, the FDA issued its final deeming rule, extending its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah and pipe tobacco. The FDA continued to partner with TRSP to fund 39 new grants related to current and newly deemed tobacco products including studies to reduce the addictiveness and public health toll from tobacco products; inform the development and evaluation of regulatory action on waterpipe (or hookah) tobacco; and support new investigators establishing careers in tobacco regulatory research.

In mid-May, TRSP hosted the second Tobacco Regulatory Science Grantees Conference with over 400 attendees. The conference represented multiple scientific disciplines and showcased nearly 200 research projects. Key topics of particular interest to policy development included the appeal of flavors, harmful and potentially harmful constituents, use patterns, vulnerable populations (youth and young adults in particular), and communication and marketing strategies.

TRSP continues to support the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) program that encourages research collaboration through integrated program center grants. To date, TCORS investigators have pursued 184 collaborative pilot projects. The TCORS have supported 154 trainees through their training programs in tobacco regulatory science. FDA has expressed intent to provide the NIH with funds to continue the TCORS program beyond the current awards, which end in 2018.

Concluding Remarks

These examples represent the work of the ODP over the last year to advance our mission to assess, facilitate, and stimulate research in disease prevention, and disseminate the results of this research to improve public health.

For more information about the ODP, follow the office on Twitter @NIHprevents. Please also sign up for ODP email updates to receive news and announcements about upcoming programs, events, and pertinent prevention research information.

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

Last updated on March 17, 2020