Promoting and Defending Research

Promoting and defending research
APA strongly encourages the use of psychological science in policy-making decisions and vigorously defends the field from partisan attacks.

How We Speak Out for Psychological Science

Science at Federal agencies

Provide Insights to Federal Research Agencies

APA monitors and weighs in on federal agency policies related to research with human participants and non-human animals. With help from APA member experts, APA staff seek to represent the perspective of psychological scientists with federal agency staff.

Defend research

Defend Research From Unfounded Attack

APA vigorously defends psychological science against unfounded attack, and provides support to psychologists to help them prepare and respond to attacks by members of Congress and the media. We also play a lead role in the Coalition to Promote Research.

Peer Review

Help Scientists to Become Effective Science Advocates

APA offers specialized training opportunities for psychologists to be heard on key federal policy issues, including through the Hill days, the Stand for Science campaign and the grassroots Federal Action Network.

Our Science Priorities

We work with Congress and federal science agencies to advocate for these key issues:

Supporting Human Subjects Research

Research with human participants has proven invaluable, in advancing knowledge in the biomedical, behavioral and social sciences.

Supporting the Use of Non-Human Animals in Research

APA continues to support the ethical and responsible use of non-human animals in psychological research.

Standing Up for Peer Review

These grant review processes ensure that every federally funded grant has been fully vetted and demonstrates value.

Non-Partisan Agency Operations

Federal science agencies must be permitted to make the most of their budgets and missions by having management flexibility.

Including Psychological Science Perspectives

APA promotes scientific perspectives in proposed legislation and in comments to federal science agencies on strategic and programmatic research plans.

Psychologists on Federal Planning and Advisory Boards

Advisory group members typically make recommendations regarding federal programs and policies and review grant applications.

Showcasing Psychological Science

APA organizes and participates in events that present relevant, timely research findings to members of Congress and their staff.

Federal Funding Research

APA advocates for predictable and sufficient funding of scientific research.

Take Action Now

Recent APA Advocacy to Promote Psychological Science

APA organizes and participates in events that present relevant, timely research findings to members of Congress and their staff. These events demonstrate the value of psychological science in better understanding and ultimately addressing societal challenges.

July 2017

Briefing Spotlights NIDA-Funded Research on Opioid Use Disorder Prevention

On July 25, 2017, the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse held a briefing titled “Preventing Opioid Use Disorders: Community Based Approaches that Work.” Nearly 120 congressional and federal agency staff, professional society representatives and others attended the session, underscoring the prevalent interest in preventing opioid use disorders and combating the opioid epidemic.

Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Wilson Compton, MD, MPE, discussed how social environment shapes the development of the brain and how adverse childhood experiences increase the likelihood of illicit drug use later in life. He presented evidence that early childhood intervention can prevent opiate misuse later, and provided examples of programs that have been effective. Richard F. Catalano, PhD, presented federal spending data from the Office of National Drug Control Policy to illustrate that federal funding for prevention programs has remained low compared to spending on law enforcement and treatment. He also shared recommendations for scaling effective prevention programs and policies. Psychologist Richard Spoth, PhD, demonstrated the value and importance of expanding evidence-based prevention programs. He provided an analysis of the reduction in both economic and societal costs that occur when effective prevention programs are implemented. Kathy Collier, chair of the Pennsylvania Coalition Advisory Workgroup, presented on the success of the Chester County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services; her experience working in communities on the ground gave a unique perspective. 

APA is an active member of the Friends of NIDA and the Friends of NIAAA. These events were organized on behalf of the coalition by APA staff.

June 2017

Congressional Briefing Highlights NIAAA Research on Alcohol Use Disorders in Women

The Friends of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) held a briefing, "The Changing Patterns of Women’s Drinking and Their Impact on Public Health," on June 22, 2017, in cooperation with the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus. APA's Science Government Relations Office took the lead on organizing the briefing on behalf of the Friends of NIAAA coalition. The director of NIAAA, George Koob, PhD, provided a broad overview of NIAAA's research portfolio on the characteristics and patterns of alcohol use in women. Deidra Roach, MD, a medical project officer in the Division of Treatment and Recovery Research at NIAAA, discussed why we are seeing a rise in binge drinking among women around the world, as well as presenting data on the medical consequences of excessive alcohol use in women and on alcohol use during pregnancy. Next, Barbara McCrady, PhD, distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions at the University of New Mexico, discussed the barriers women face when seeking treatment and the unique needs of women in treatment programs. Finally, writer and public radio host, Martha Woodroof, told stories of her life and her 26-year recovery from alcohol use disorder.
February 2017

Heroin Treatment Is Focus of Congressional Briefing

Psychologist Lisa Marsch, PhD, of Dartmouth College and principal investigator of the Northeast Node of the National Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network, testified before the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force in 2017. Her testimony led to a trip to New Hampshire this May by Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to visit Dr. Marsch at Dartmouth College and some treatment facilities with Rep. Anne McLane Kuster (NH-2).

October 2016

APA Spotlights Imbalance in Funding Priorities at the National Institute of Mental Health

APA organized and sponsored a Capitol Hill congressional briefing on “Future Directions in Mental Health Research: The View from Psychological Science” in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4, 2016. The event drew more than 100 congressional staff, federal agency officials and advocates from scientific and professional organizations. A primary aim of the event was to address the direction of funding priorities at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Though NIMH is the principal source of federal funding for mental health research, there is some concern that the heavy emphasis on biological approaches at NIMH in recent years has crowded out funding for research that pursues psychological and other behavioral and social scientific approaches. A video recording of the briefing is available.

September 2016

Congressional Briefing Shines Spotlight on Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study

On Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, the Friends of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse collaborated to host a congressional briefing, “Brain Development and Our Kids’ Future: The Adolescent Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study.” The briefing, presented with support from APA, provided an overview of the ABCD Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States, and discussed the implications this research will have for the health and well-being of our nation’s children. The discussion was co-led by Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, and George F. Koob, PhD, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The panelists included Sandra Brown, PhD, director of the ABCD Study Coordinating Center in San Diego California, Thomas Brock, PhD,  of the National Center for Education Research at the Institute of Education Sciences, Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, of the Adolescent Substance Use Disorders Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Kevin Gray, MD, of the Medical University of South Carolina.

July 2016

Public Health Fair on Capitol Hill Shines Spotlight on Federally Funded Health Research

The Coalition for Health Funding held its first ever Public Health Fair on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, to both advocate for robust, sustained funding for the federal health agencies and demonstrate the value of these investments. The fair featured representatives of more than 40 national health organizations, including APA, and its six federal public health service agencies. APA's invited exhibitor, Bethany Teachman, PhD, of the University of Virginia's Program for Anxiety, Cognition, and Treatment lab, brought along one of her lab's live tarantulas to demonstrate her NIMH-funded research on anxiety and spider phobia. The engaging exhibit wowed attendees, including Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Va., and Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va. — a co-chair of the Congressional Public Health Caucus. 

The Coalition for Health Funding's Public Health Fair successfully illustrated the value of federally funded health research aimed at developing evidence-based interventions, as well as implementing and disseminating those interventions to make them more widely accessible to the public.

June 2016

Briefing Discusses Pregnancy's Impact on Child Health

On June 26, 2016, the Friends of NICHD, of which APA is a member, hosted a briefing titled "Research from A to Zika: How What Happens During Pregnancy Influences Child Health" (PDF, 3.9MB). Presenters included psychologist John Colombo, PhD, director of the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at the University of Kansas, speaking about the maternal origins of early cognitive development.
May 2016

Congressional Briefing Illustrates the Importance of Human Factors in Autonomous Systems Research and Design

On May 31, 2016, APA hosted a briefing in partnership with the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Arizona State University, Duke University and Texas A&M University. The briefing, “Autonomous Systems and the Role of the Human: How Team Science is Expanding Human Capability in a Future of Everyday Robots and Autonomous Vehicles,” vividly demonstrated the value of interdisciplinary research and highlighted the important role of human factors in the design and implementation of autonomous technology. 

In her introductory remarks, Barbara Wanchisen of the National Academies discussed the popular report “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science.” Among the speakers was psychologist Nancy Cooke of Arizona State University, whose presentation illustrated the importance of integrating human factors into the design of autonomous systems. Mary Cummings, a systems engineer at Duke University, shared real world examples of the limitations of autonomous systems, from drones to airplanes to self-driving cars. Though computer scientist Robin Murphy of Texas A&M University was deployed to Houston in response to flooding there, she provided an engaging and informative video that showed how unmanned vehicles are currently used during natural disasters.

May 2016

Congressional Briefing Highlights Research Findings on Alcohol, Stress and the Brain

On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the Friends of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) held a briefing in cooperation with the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus and the Military Mental Health Caucus. The briefing, “Alcohol, Stress, and the Brain: Implications for Treatment and Recovery,” explored the link between alcohol and stress and highlighted research findings with implications for treating co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD). NIAAA Director George Koob, PhD, provided an overview of NIAAA's research portfolio on the neurobiological underpinnings of alcohol use disorders as they relate to PTSD. APA member Rajita Sinha, PhD, followed with a dynamic presentation summarizing her research on relapse and recovery in patients with alcohol use disorders. Lastly, Anthony Doran, who currently serves as a peer support specialist with Vets4Warriors, and is a veteran of the Afghan campaign, discussed his PTSD and alcohol use disorder diagnoses and his personal journey through recovery.
April 2016

APA Groups Visit Capitol Hill to Advocate for Psychological Science Funding

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, the APA Science Student Council (SSC) headed to Capitol Hill for an advocacy day to make the case for psychological science funding at the federal science agencies. SSC is a council of nine graduate students — each representing an area among the breadth of research disciplines within psychology.

In their meetings, SSC members described their research, much of which is federally funded, and advocated strong, stable and predictable funding in fiscal year 2017 for the federal agencies that fund social and behavioral science, especially the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. In addition, the students advocated support of this research by opposing legislation that singles out social and behavioral science grants or entire programs of research for cuts or further attacks. In total, SSC members met with 16 congressional offices that cover their universities’ home districts and states.

April 2016

APA’s Committee on Research Ethics Visits Capitol Hill to Highlight the Value of Research With Nonhuman Animals

Also on Thursday, April 21, 2016, members of APA’s Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE) traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of research with non-human animal models. CARE members met with 10 congressional offices, including both members of Congress and congressional staff. 

CARE chairman John Capitanio, of the University of California-Davis, had the opportunity to speak with Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., about research on the Zika virus taking place with primates at his university. CARE members have found that there are few organizations speaking up in Congress about the continued need for research with animals, which augments the importance of their ongoing educational efforts.

March 2016

APA Co-Sponsors Briefing on Supporting Students With Disabilities as They Transition Into College and Work

On March 4, 2016, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing titled “Transitioning to Adult Productivity: Supporting Secondary Students with Disabilities in Successful Movement to College and Career.” The briefing highlighted educational and psychological special education research funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the Department of Education. 

Among the speakers, the presentation featured psychologist Laurie Powers, a professor at the Portland State University School of Social Work, who discussed her research on the My Life intervention that focuses on improving transition to adulthood through enhancing self-determination skills (e.g., goal setting, planning, problem-solving) for students in foster care with disabilities. The briefing was sponsored by the Friends of IES, a group of nearly 30 scientific associations, professional organizations and institutions, including APA.

February 2016

Women Veterans' Health is Focus of Congressional Briefing

On Feb. 22, 2016, the Friends of the VA MEdical Care and Health Research (FOVA) hosted a briefing titled "Veterans Health Research: A Focus on Women." APA co-sponsored the event. Among the speakers was David J. Shulkin, MD, Under Secretary for Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs; Elizabeth Yano, PhD, MSPH, of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System; and Sally Haskell, MD, of the Yale School of Medicine and Director of Comprehensive Women's Health at VHA.
January 2016

Psychologist Speaks to Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic

Jessica Peirce, PhD, Associate Director of Addiction Treatment Services Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University, shared her research and clinical experience with the treatment of substance use disorders comorbid with psychiatric disorders before the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic.
December 2015

Briefing Discusses Opoid Addiction Co-Occurring with HIV and Hepatitis

On December 1, 2015, the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, of which APA is a member, held a congressional briefing titled “A Co-Occurring Epidemic: The Challenge of Addressing Opioid Addiction, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis.” It was the most recent event in the coalition's Charles R. Schuster congressional briefing series. Wilson M. Compton, the deputy director of NIDA, introduced the topic by presenting some of the troubling data that shows the trends and impacts of these crises. He also discussed what NIDA is currently doing to combat these issues and how research can help change the trajectory of what has developed into a public health crisis. José Szapocznik, PhD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, discussed research about at-risk populations, including the importance of evidence based intervention and services such as needle exchange programs, which have been proven to lead to a decrease in risk behaviors and in cases of HIV. Scott Stokes, Director of Prevention Services at AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, continued the discussion of needle exchanges in his presentation on harm reduction, in addition to discussing overdose intervention.
November 2015

APA Co-sponsored Briefing Highlights Strategies for Targeting High-risk Drinking on College Campuses

On Oct. 27, 2015, as part of the Friends of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing in cooperation with the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus. The briefing entitled “College AIM: Evidence-based strategies for targeting high risk drinking on college campuses,” included an overview of a tool that NIAAA has developed in collaboration with researchers to help college officials reduce high-risk student drinking and its harmful consequences. This resource, the College Alcohol Intervention Matrix, or CollegeAIM, is comprehensive, easy to use and helps college officials to make informed decisions about alcohol interventions. Using CollegeAIM, college officials can explore the evidence base for their current intervention strategies, compare them to other evidence-based alternatives, and identify the best approach to address the needs of their particular student population.
September 2015

Early Math Education Research Featured on Capitol Hill

On Sept. 25, 2015, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing titled “Building Strength in Numbers: How do Early Interventions in Math Instruction Add Up?” The briefing highlighted educational and psychological research on early math education funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the Department of Education. The briefing was held, in part, to educate congressional staff about the importance of IES-funded research during a time when both House and Senate appropriations bills proposed significant decreases to the IES budget.
June 2015

Research on Heroin and Opioid Addiction Is Highlighted at Congressional Briefing

On June 1, 2015, the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse held a congressional briefing titled “Heroin Addiction and Overdose: What Can We Do to Address This Growing Problem?” It was part of the coalition’s Charles R. Schuster congressional briefing series. With more than 135 congressional and federal agency staff, professional society representatives and others in attendance, Nora Volkow, the director of NIDA, presented evidence linking the increase in heroin usage to the increased use and abuse of opioid medications; she also described NIDA-supported research aimed at developing overdose medications, treatments for addictions and analgesics with less abuse potential. Sandra Comer, of Columbia University, discussed the use of advantages and disadvantages of medications to treat opioid abuse and dependence: Buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. Brooke Scannell, chief of staff for Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., who was in attendance, gave a moving speech about her brother Kyle’s fight with addiction and the toll it has taken on her family.
April 2015

Forensic Science Expert Presents Findings on Capitol Hill

On April 29, 2015, APA sponsored two events on Capitol Hill, both featuring psychologist Saul Kassin and his research on false confessions and wrongful convictions. Kassin is a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In the afternoon, on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, APA hosted a briefing by Kassin for congressional staff, federal agency staff, and representatives of other organizations interested in forensic science, civil rights and the criminal justice system. Titled “Why Innocents Confess and Why Confessions Trump Innocence,” the briefing offered a framework for how psychological scientists study the issue with methodological rigor as well as concrete policy recommendations to improve the gathering of accurate information in law enforcement settings. 

Kassin also represented APA later that evening at the 21st annual Coalition for National Science Funding exhibit and reception on the House side of Capitol Hill. The event, which focused this year on “Investments in STEM Research Education: Fueling American Innovation” and covered the entire range of disciplines funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was attended by members of Congress and their staffs.

March 2015

Briefing Focuses on Role of Surveillance Data in Preventing Injuries and Violence

On March 17, 2015, APA co-hosted a congressional briefing with the Injury and Violence Prevention Network (IVPN) titled “Surveillance: Building the Evidence to Address Prescription Drug Overdoses, Violence, and Traumatic Brain Injuries.” The briefing highlighted the role of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (CDC/NCIPC), which works in conjunction with individual states to conduct research making use of surveillance data with the goal of developing and evaluating prevention strategies.
March 2015

Briefing Highlights Role of Animal Research in Understanding Human Development

APA sponsored and organized a congressional briefing on March 27, 2015, titled “Animal Research: What’s at Stake?” The briefing, held in the U.S. Capitol Building, addressed the role of basic research with nonhuman animals within the larger enterprise of applied, clinical and translational research that benefits humans. A major focus of the briefing, which featured three psychological scientists as speakers, was on how research with animals leads to a better understanding of the impact of adverse early experiences in humans and the design of interventions to promote healthy development.
We have a tremendous opportunity to help shape the laws and policies that directly affect psychology and the populations we work with. We can make a real difference in our society.
—Melba Vasquez, PhD, ABPP, 2011 APA President

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APA represents the largest and most visible national presence advocating for psychology at the federal level. There are three APA government relations offices and two APA-affiliated organizations that engage in government relations activities. 

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