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Director's Messages

Strategic Priority IV Update

One of the ODP’s Strategic Plan priorities, Strategic Priority IV, is to encourage collaboration among NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) and their government and private partners engaged in prevention research. The goal is to identify and share best collaborative practices and models, build support infrastructure, and coordinate funding opportunities.

In the past year, the ODP has participated in the planning of a number of trans-NIH workshops related to key prevention areas such as obesity, physical activity, screening, and injury prevention. The ODP’s participation also helped strengthen the prevention component of several larger workshops sponsored by the NIH and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including those related to the prevention of elder abuse and dissemination and implementation research.

In 2015, the ODP led the development and release of two Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) on the design and testing of the interventions for health-enhancing physical activity and compiled the accompanying frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing the issues of research design. Over the past two application rounds, more than 72 applications were received, and three grants have already been funded: WalkIT: Neighborhood Walkability and Moderation of Adaptive Walking Interventions, Scale Up Evaluation of a Physical Activity Program for Adults With Physical Disability, and Stand and Move at Work: a Group Randomized Trial. In addition, ODP staff held discussions with offices across the NIH to identify opportunities for trans-NIH collaborations in other areas and to ensure that the ODP is included in the planning of workshops and other activities aimed at identifying research gaps and topics for new prevention-relevant FOAs. Since the beginning of 2015, the ODP has signed onto 15 requests for applications or information across the NIH that include research related to Alzheimer’s disease, data repositories, dissemination and implementation (R01, R03, and R21), environmental child health outcomes, obesity policy and evaluation, rehabilitation, sex and gender differences, and effects of e-cigarette aerosol mixtures (R01 and R21). Signing on indicates ODP’s support for the FOA and gives the ODP an opportunity to contribute to funding individual projects.

Strategic Priority IV assumed the management of the Prevention Research Coordinating Committee (PRCC) in January 2016. One of the first steps taken was to conduct a survey among PRCC members to identify areas of trans-NIH interest where new scientific working groups could be organized around prevention topics not already covered by existing trans-NIH groups. The ODP anticipates that discussions within these groups will lead to the development of activities to better address gaps in prevention research identified through a variety of processes, including, for example, the research gaps highlighted by the Insufficient Evidence Statements issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). ODP staff recently participated in the Children’s Health Forum hosted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the USPSTF to discuss research gaps related to children.

The ODP has participated in a variety of efforts to anticipate and shape future research directions for prevention within NIH strategic planning, including for the NIH-wide strategic plan released in December 2015 as well as the strategic plans of individual ICs. The ODP has also contributed to the strategic planning of a variety of trans-agency and public-private partnership workshops, meetings, and working groups. Two examples include a Pathways to Prevention federal partners meeting on The Role of Opioids in the Treatment of Chronic Pain and the National Collaborative Childhood Obesity Research(specifically for the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, Research User Guides for the Use of Physical Activity Measures at the Individual and Environmental Level, and Behavioral Design for Health).

The ODP provided co-funding for a wide range of prevention research efforts across the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and HHS. ODP co-funding is focused on the top ten most common actual causes of death in the United States: tobacco, overweight/obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity, alcohol misuse, exposure to microbial agents and/or toxic agents, motor vehicle accidents, injury and violence, risky sexual behavior, and substance abuse. In addition, the ODP plans to support initiatives in the areas of disease screening, economics of prevention, and prevention methods and measurement research.

In 2015, the ODP supported meetings, workshops, and conferences on various topics including neurocognitive influences on teen driving, Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias, self-regulation of appetite, multilevel interventions for hard-to-reach populations, and an Institute of Medicine Forum on Promoting Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health. We also provided co-funding for three projects for Healthy People 2020, including the data projects on health disparities and heart disease and stroke. Four projects on physical activity and childhood obesity, including the Coordinating Center for the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research and an intramural research project on the metabolic and cognitive outcomes of interrupting sedentary behavior in children, also received ODP co-funding. The office is now including grant co-funding in its annual co-funding calls.

The ODP played a key role in the effort to develop and edit the National Nutrition Research Roadmap, which identifies research gaps and opportunities in nutrition science across the federal government. ODP staff also participated in discussions on the development of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The ODP coordinated NIH input on identifying physical activity investigators with relevant expertise for the planned review of the scientific literature for an update of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The new evidence synthesis will be used by the federal government to develop updated physical activity guidelines for Americans. The last physical activity guidelines were released in 2008, and the update is expected to be released in 2018.

I am confident that these initiatives will help invigorate scientific inquiry in various areas of shared interest among the NIH ICs and their federal partners. In the future, the ODP will continue to expand its efforts in support of collaborative prevention research.

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

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