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Director's Messages

Strategic Priority III Update

The goal of Strategic Priority III is to promote the best available methods in prevention research. Over the past year, the ODP has continued to work toward improving the quality of prevention research methods by updating and expanding its prevention science tools and training opportunities.

The ODP’s Prevention Research Expertise Survey (PRES) is an online survey that allows researchers to share their methodological and content expertise with the NIH. NIH Scientific Review Officers (SROs) can use this information to identify prevention research experts for possible service on peer review panels. In 2017, the ODP updated the PRES electronic directory to collect additional information. Today, the directory contains over 2,700 names. I encourage you to share this survey with your colleagues and other prevention research experts.

The Methods: Mind the Gap webinar series explores research design, measurement, intervention, data analysis, and other methods of interest to prevention science. These webinars are invited talks from outside experts, and the speakers provide resources and take questions from the audience. Recent topics included discussions on the use of the electronic medical record in prevention research, the challenges and opportunities of dissemination and implementation research, and mixed methods in disease prevention and health promotion research. Details about upcoming Mind the Gap webinars and links to past webinars are available on the ODP website.

The ODP provides NIH training opportunities in disease prevention research methodology to help new investigators and established researchers alike conduct high-quality research studies. These training opportunities include courses like the Pragmatic and Group-Randomized Trials in Public Health, a free 7-part online course, which provides a detailed guide to designing and analyzing group-randomized trials.

The ODP hosted the annual Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture series, which honors a scientist who has contributed significantly to the field of epidemiology or clinical trials research. The 2017 Award Winner, Mark Schiffman, M.D., M.P.H., of the National Cancer Institute, discussed the epidemiology of HPV and cervical cancer. The lecture was presented on May 3, 2017, and an archived video of the lecture is available on the ODP website.

This year, the ODP hosted its inaugural Early-Stage Investigator Award. The award recognizes early-career prevention scientists who have made significant research contributions in their field and are poised to become future leaders. The 2017 winners were Justin C. Brown, Ph.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, and Katherine Keyes, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Columbia University. Dr. Brown discussed his research on the effect of exercise on colon cancer survivors and Dr. Keyes explored her research on alcohol use and morbidity over time. These presentations were given on May 3, 2017, on the NIH main campus.

Later this summer, the ODP will offer training to Scientific Review Officers across the NIH on how to use the ODP’s new web-based tool that identifies prevention scientists who may be willing to serve on scientific review panels. This tool is tied to the database compiled with the responses to the Prevention Research Expertise Survey. The upcoming training follows the successful experience of working with SROs at the Center for Scientific Review.

This fall, the ODP will host new web-based resources for investigators considering clinical trials that may involve either group-randomization or delivery of interventions to groups. These approaches require special methods for design and analysis, and the new web-based materials will provide guidance on those issues. The ODP will collaborate with the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) on this project as part of OER’s effort to standardize application procedures for clinical trials supported by the NIH.

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