Arts & Human Development Task Force
October 4, 2012 Webinar Q&A Transcript
Iyengar: A question here, “Can you say more about relationship between small project and the infrastructure grant? Is it that we need to design a small project to inform a bigger one?” Does that question make sense to you Bill?
NIH: I envision this R24 as an infrastructure grant to allow people to come together to begin to create a team to think of ideas so that after they get this, they can apply again for a different mechanism, a different opportunity and then have a trajectory. This is to bring people together to begin to think together and plan. Plan an idea that would be looking at cultural well-being and health in that specific domain. I look at this R24 like a percolating grant for another grant.
NIH: The small project is a bonding project. It is a way in which the group comes together, they learn each other's language. They learn dialects and buzzwords. It is for that purpose. It is not for a pilot project in the way that, for those of you familiar with NIH mechanisms, no one expects an R21–sized pilot project out of this. The suggestion for a small project is for people to come together and to get to know one another and build rapport for an extended working relationship.
Iyengar: One question is, “With the use of arts in medical teaching to improve care around issues of diversity be of interest?”
NIH: We do not see why not. That is obviously very little to go on. We would love to see a paragraph on that, if somebody wants to send it to one of the six of us.
It is important to remember this has to be basic - BSSR. It cannot be applied or interventional. It has to be basic, i.e. mechanistic, looking at meeting the mission of this network of OppNet. And meeting also of the spirit of this particular funding opportunity announcement. It has to meet two things, i think.
Iyengar: I think that is an important point that I tried to stress in the beginning and we need to keep that in mind during the Q&A that this is about basic science in that sense.
NIH: I am sitting here thinking, What are the ideas?
Iyengar: What about this question pertaining to, let me see for a moment, ok, so, this question was answered about international. “What is the expected role of the researchers – as P.I., co-investigator, or consultant? I assume it could apply to arts researchers as well, but about the humanities researchers. Do they have to be a P.I. or co- investigator or a consultant? I know you just said said 49% or less of the project. How does that play out in terms of this kind of designated role?
NIH: Humanities…the short version is it does not matter. Everyone is welcome to be a P.I., arts and humanities are welcome. In some ways this is not a unique opportunity. There are many NIH projects that have had arts and humanities components over the years. Psychodrama didn’t get to be a best practice until it got funding years ago from the national institute on mental health. SAMSHA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services’ best practices is something called “Keeping it REAL.” REAL is an acronym for something that escapes me right now but it is a project in which teenagers script, direct, act, edit their own drug prevention videos, all of which are artistic activities. Morevoer, it was Aristotle, the rhetoretician who said one is persuaded best when one participates in one’s own persuasions. So you’ve even got the rhetoric going on in there. All of those grants were funded by opportunity announcements, program announcements, that did not expressly invite the arts or humanities researchers. It simply happened because it all worked together.
Iyengar: This is the typical question we might get for people who have been tuning into these webinars the past where we have often shown applied research into arts or in some cases the humanities, bridging that into health- related outcomes through research. This has been stated several times in basic and social science research initiative nevertheless recognizing the arts and humanities as part of that broader construct of culture. And so the question is “As an arts or cultural organization, how can we get involved? We do not have the resources to conduct the research on our own. But we’d interested in assisting in some field studies?” If I could add to that, what I think is being approached with this question is, there is this issue of connecting that was raised, you're trying to bring people together, bring different disciplines together and so that specific question is about “how do we get involved?” And I would ask, if you are an arts researcher or an arts organization and was interested in this project, what kinds of venues or methods are there for people in meeting other people who would be like- minded and able to apply for something like this? Are there ways of putting people together?
NIH: One way is to follow the passion of the arts people. So whatever topic they have then they could search into the NIH database, in the reporter database, for the scientists who are funded doing the research in their passion area. I am thinking, for example, autism and eye contact. There was a project where at the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh where they gave autistic children cameras and had then take pictures of faces and looked at their improved eye contact. Now, there is no research on that. If somebody wanted to do that, if i were an applicant, i would look at the NIH reporter database, see who were the scientists who were studying autism, get all of the information about their research and their bio sketches, filter through that so i know which ones are closer to my passion, and then explore communicating with them, look them up first and see whether they would be good partners. This is what the R24 really is for so that the artist and whatever scientist was doing the research about that behavior, could partner together and craft an area of science for a domain they are passionate about that would be under the umbrella of culture, health, and well-being.
NIH: I want to interject, for those of you or not familiar NIH reporter, go to Google and Google “NIH reporter” and it will come up with a query page where you can enter the keywords that you are interested in searching. You can locate people who have current grants that you can see the abstracts of in publicly available data. You can identify who the P.I.s are and where they are located so that you can contact them.
Iyengar: That is a great resource. We have never highlighted it in a previous webinar and it will be great for people who tune into this.
So a question here is: “How small of a study can be conducted? For example, when working with community-dwelling human subjects?” I guess that relates specifically to the prospect of a study involving human subjects under this RFA. Bill, do you want to address that? Do you understand that? How small a study can be conducted when working with community- dwelling human subjects?
NIH: it depends. We have no other information about what it is someone wants to do. It depends on the entire budget which, offhand, I think is $175,000 that is going to pay for people’s salaries. I do not know much one could spend on data collection or whether you are bringing human subjects into a lab setting of some kind in which you observe or record the interactions between these people because you are looking at basic processes of some sort of cultural experience.
NIH: The setting necessarily would need to be small and you would also have to be aware of how much you are paying investigators to take part in this because the budget is small. Maybe that is the in-kind contribution, that investigators donate their time in-kind and the money goes to running a small project.
NIH: Another approach to this R24 mechanism is to identify researchers who are already working in this area that have active research areas that then you collaborate with or you can think about piggybacking on their research area, bringing your own expertise and a new focus on part of their project, not replicating the entire project but utilizing the infrastructure that the existing research already has in place.
Iyengar: Thank you. The next question is, “We would hope a team constituted through this process would be durable enough to continue with larger scale related products in the future. Should that be included in the project proposal?
NIH: It doesn’t hurt. Yes, I would put that in.
Iyengar: Apologies if you have answered this through the presentation: “What are the products expected?” I assume they mean the work products from the grant.
NIH: Peer reviewed publications are the usual product. And if there is a database resulting or those kinds of things. In this case it may also be a film or some other art product.
Iyengar: That is good to know. “Does this funding include community-academic partnerships projects?”
NIH: Definitely. Isn’t the example from the community arts group an example of that?
Iyengar: Yes. “Guidance on activities and budget. Are there things that must be included or must not be included? What kinds of things are expected - faculty salaries, research assistants, etc? If there is a portion of the application or guidelines you want to refer to, that would be fine…having to do with the budget.
NIH: The funding opportunity announcement will link you to the application package and that is all in there by the NIH that’s project-related, how you do the budget and all of that.
Iyengar: Here is a specific idea, the person writes “I am a chaplain at a large New England hospital. We have in recently initiated a volunteer music visitation program and we would like to study how our music visits affect patient well-being and patient satisfaction with care. Would this sort of research fall within the present grant rubric?”
NIH: As you’ve read it to us, that sounds like an intervention unless somehow the researchers with whom the reverend would connect would be looking at the basic processes that lead to reduced pain and diminished depression. Those kinds of activities. It would have to look at those mechanisms rather than a general outcome of well-being, like the QSI.
Iyengar: Somebody is asking, and maybe we should clarify the definition, the difference for those who are not familiar, between basic and applied research in this context. You have described it as mechanistic. You haven’t used those words, I am using them. If you want to give a gloss on that, bill, what standard difference there is between basic and applied research in the context of social and behavioral research?
NIH: We had the slide with the very short definition of BSSR and then the three slides with the three subcategories of basic research. There is also the link to answers to frequently asked questions, many of which deal with what is basic and what is applied. So if, for example, if you were looking at -- the example of the music. If one were measuring the effect of daily musicales at the large teaching hospital and the pre- and post-test was the becks depression index, that would be applied research. But if you were studying how the group experience, if you're coming up with measures to look at the group experience of patients coming around and interacting with one another over the music or interacting with the musicians and you were looking at those interactions, and how those interactions influenced the people, that is more basic.
Iyengar: So in a sense – I mean this probably isn’t an inclusive definition -it is about the methods being used, right?
NIH: it is actually the question you're asking. Applied research is asking “does this particular methodology change my behavior or my health or some other measurable aspect of my environment, typically in a positive way, sometimes negative. But basic research is looking to understand the mechanisms and how and why those changes may have occurred, what aspects of the stimuli, what aspects of the organism - in this case humans as well as animal models can be applied for in this project.
Iyengar: One last question: “To what extent would this mechanism be a good fit for measurement development involving developing or testing innovative measures for assessing culturally-related protective factors affecting health in distinct cultural groups, for example, Alaska Native communities?”
Aside perhaps from those last few words, I would say superb. As we saw in the slide show, lots of times health research uses culture as a synonym for ethnicity or race. This research project is about getting beyond that. And so, indeed, if this researcher were conducting a project among Alaskan Natives, but the deliverable was an approach that allowed one to unpack variables that you could use with other types of human beings, then that would be basic research.
Iyengar: OK. Was there another comment?
NIH: In the RFA, you will find a significant list of potential projects and areas of interest, many of which do relate directly to measurements. It is on page 4 if you print it out.
And referring back to the slide presentation, there was one of the three areas that bbssr is focused on, is methods and development of metrics and so forth. It seems like it could be right on.
Iyengar: Thank you very much. Bill, any closing comments?
NIH: Other than to thank everyone for their interest and time and encouraging you folks to follow up with any of us. We will be happy to work with you, provide you comments on a concept paper and then once we have that, perhaps to give you some guidance on the phone. It really helps to start seeing some ideas on paper before we have a conversation. Since we have already conversed here.
Iyengar: Thank you very much. And, again, this presentation will be archived at arts.gov/research/convenings. Thank you all and I want to thank our participants, Bill Elwood and his colleagues at NIH and Eva Caldera from NEH. We will follow up next time with the next webinar. Take care. Bye.
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