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Public Affairs Update

  • Draft guidance on human subjects research . . . . The U.S. Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) announced in the Federal Register, the availability of a draft guidance document OHRP Guidance on Engagement of Institutions in Human Subjects Research that would update two existing OHRP documents: (1) Engagement of Institutions in Research, and (2) Engagement of Pharmaceutical Companies in HHS-Supported Research. To facilitate public review of the draft guidance document, OHRP has developed a table presenting a side-by-side comparison of OHRP’s draft guidance document with the current documents. Both the draft guidance document and the comparison table can be accessed at www.hhs.gov/ohrp/requests/. A copy of the Federal Register notice can be accessed at www.hhs.gov/ohrp/documents/20061208.pdf. Written comments must be submitted by February 6, 2007, to: ENGAGEMENT GUIDANCE COMMENTS, OHRP, The Tower Building, 1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20852. Comments also may be sent to engagementohrp@hhs.gov or via facsimile at 301-402-2071.

  • U.S. Census Bureau chiefs resign as 2010 Census looms . . . . Charles Louis Kincannon, Director of the Census Bureau and Hermann Habermann, the Bureau’s Deputy Director, both announced their resignations this fall, just as the agency is ramping up preparations for the next U.S. Census. Kincannon joined the Bureau in 1963 and was appointed by President Bush to succeed former director Kenneth Prewitt four years ago. In his resignation letter to the President, Kincannon noted that “shifting priorities make it time for me to retire,” and he cited “the need to spend more time with…family.” As is often the case with resignations, there is speculation that both leaders were asked to leave by the administration. Quoted soon after his resignation in the Washington Post, Kincannon stated, “My perception is that I don’t have the same level of trust that I did a year or so ago,” and there were “different views perhaps about priorities” at the agency. Kincannon was referring to views among current Census leadership, politically appointed Commerce officials, and members of Congress having Census oversight responsibilities. For example, the decennial Census contains plans for adjusting for undercounting of minorities and immigrants, and these groups are more likely to vote for Democrats. In most every recent Census, the Commerce Department has resisted adjustments when challenged in legal suits. Republicans in Congress are concerned that the issue of adjustments may emerge again under a Democratic Congress. Kincannon stated he will remain in the post until President Bush has his replacement named and confirmed by the Senate. Habermann, who has worked at the Bureau since 2002, departs this month. Without its top leadership, review and testing of the 2010 American Community Survey will be handicapped. This fall, ASA signed a coalition letter to the President urging immediate action on replacements for Census leadership. Congressional approval of an adequate FY 2007 budget is also threatening to hamper the agency’s preparation for 2010.

  • Non-tenure-track faculty in America’s colleges and universities on the rise . . . . The American Association of University Professors’ Contingent Faculty Index 2006 shows an increase in the number of non-tenure-track faculty in America’s colleges and universities. The Index provides data at the institution level on the number of full-time faculty with and without tenure, the number of part-time faculty, and the number of graduate student employees. In 2003, the latest year for which data is available, contingent faculty, both full- and part-time faculty not on a tenure track, encompassed 65 percent of all faculty for the year. The report warns that the emergence of an increasing contingent faculty represents a fundamental change in the nature of higher education. This new report uses figures submitted by institutions to the U.S. Department of Education for fall 2005. Four appendices of the Index provide institution-specific data on over 2,600 colleges and universities. Obtain a copy of the report at www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/research/conind2006.htm.

  • Obesity is number-one health concern for children, according to U.S. adults . . . . According to a new poll from Research!America and the Endocrine Society, Americans named obesity as the top health concern for children, followed by a lack of healthcare/insurance and nutrition/unhealthy diet. The nation is split on whether this is a public or private issue, with slightly more Americans (52%) believing that obesity is a public health issue in which society should intervene. Americans do believe that a combination of the community and the individual are responsible to address obesity, listing parents, individuals, schools, health-care providers, the food industry, and the government as entities that should be involved. According to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 66% of Americans ages 20-74 are overweight or obese, compared to 17% of those ages 2-19. A large majority of Americans believe it is important for the government to invest in both research and public health and prevention programs to fight and reduce obesity. When ranking the most important health issue for all ages, health insurance/health-care cost was cited as the number-one concern, followed by cancer, access to health care, and then obesity/nutrition.