Director’s Report to the National Advisory Mental Health Council - May 29, 2009
I am pleased to welcome members of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) and other participants and guests to our 221st Council meeting. Since our last meeting in February, there have been many changes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). In addition to receiving our FY2009 budget with a 2.7 percent increase over FY2008, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, or the Recovery Act) into law on February 17, 2009. As a result of ARRA, NIH has received an unprecedented increase in funds: an additional $10.4B for short-term investments. Because ARRA has a separate authorization with unique reporting requirements, the Institute has been essentially working with two funding streams. In this report, I will share with you new initiatives and recent progress from our “base” FY2009 funding, but first will review the Institute’s ARRA activities.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
NIMH is grateful to be included in the Nation’s economic recovery plan. Of the $10.4 billion in Recovery Act funds allocated to NIH, NIMH received $366 million. These funds will be used to help promote economic recovery by creating and retaining biomedical jobs, as well as supporting innovative projects that can serve as platforms for future, longer-term research efforts.
All ARRA funds must be obligated by September 30, 2010. Answering this mandate will entail a highly streamlined process for soliciting projects, reviewing grant applications, and issuing awards. Because NIMH has recently completed a Strategic Plan, many of our ARRA initiatives were directed towards jumpstarting the objectives of this Plan. In addition, specific ARRA initiatives were informed by the AIDS Strategic Plan and recent NAMHC reports on training, neurodevelopment, and implementation science.
Recent ARRA-related activities are briefly described below. The best way to summarize these is to consider two kinds of activities: (a) efforts to expand or expedite previously funded or reviewed grants and (b) new initiatives that are either NIH-wide or NIMH-specific. For more information, please see the special Recovery Act section of the NIMH Web site.
Expanding and Expediting Previously Funded or Reviewed Grants
Expanding the Payline
NIMH will use roughly 25 percent of its ARRA funds (˜$90 million) to pay grants for two years that have already scored well in review (less than 20th percentile) but were beyond our ability to pay. Already, more than 50 such grants from fiscal year (FY) 2008 and FY 2009 have been paid. Grants selected for ARRA funding were deemed highly mission-relevant and scientifically meritorious. R21 grants and other two year awards have been funded as proposed; select R01 grants that could be modified to become two year projects have also been funded. Recent press releases described two grants funded by ARRA: (a) a two-year grant to David Pérez-Jiménez, Ph.D., at the University of Puerto Rico, to support the adaptation and assessment of an HIV and other sexually transmitted infection intervention designed for young, heterosexual Latino couples, and (b) two years of support to Madelyn Gould, Ph.D., at New York State Psychiatric Institute to complete a project evaluating the effectiveness of a new training program for telephone crisis counselors at suicide hotline centers.
NIMH plans to spend approximately $20 million on supplements (either administrative or competitive) for grants that have already been funded. For administrative supplements, funds will expedite a project, whereas for competitive supplements, funds can expand the scope of a previously approved project. Special supplement programs have been developed to use ARRA funds to create new summer positions for students and science educators. Supplements are also being used to increase diversity in the workforce on currently funded grants. NIMH has received over $200 million in requests for supplements. Administrative supplements have been reviewed by an internal team and will be presented at this NAMHC meeting. Competitive supplements will be sent to study sections that reviewed the original application and referred for subsequent NAMHC review.
NIH-wide New Initiatives
NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research (RC-1)
The NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research were created to identify new scientific opportunities for two-year funding ($500,000/year). NIH identified 15 broad Challenge Areas as funding opportunities, with a pledge of $200 million of support from the NIH Office of the Director. Within these 15 broad areas, NIMH further specified 35 high priority targets for Challenge grant funding and pledged at least an additional $90 million for research relevant to NIMH priorities, from HIV prevention to developing a disparity index for mental disorders. NIH received more than 20,000 challenge grant applications, with more than 900 assigned to NIMH. These will be reviewed by an editorial board system developed by the Center for Scientific Review. Final recommendations should be ready by August for review by NAMHC.
Research and Research Infrastructure Grand Opportunities (GO) (RC-2)
NIH established the new GO grants program to support projects that address large, specific biomedical and biobehavioral research endeavors that will benefit from significant two-year funds (more than $500,000/year) without the expectation of continued NIH funding beyond two years. The research supported by the GO grants program should have high short-term impact and a high likelihood of enabling growth and investment in biomedical research and development, public health, and health care delivery. NIMH has identified three target areas for funding: genomic profiling of mental disorders, neurodevelopmental genomics, and a transcriptional atlas of the developing human brain. Proposals in other areas will also be considered. Total funding will depend on the quantity and quality of proposals, but the Institute has committed roughly $67 million to this funding opportunity. Applications are due May 29, 2009. Final recommendations for funding will be discussed with the NAMHC later this summer.
Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA)
This Request for Applications (RFA) seeks to stimulate research in educational institutions that provide undergraduate or advanced degrees for a significant number of research scientists in the United States, but that have not been major recipients of NIH support. These AREA grants create opportunities for scientists and institutions otherwise unlikely to participate extensively in NIH programs, to contribute to the U.S. biomedical and behavioral research effort. Using the R15 mechanism, these grants are intended to support small-scale health-related research projects proposed by faculty members of eligible domestic institutions.
Supporting New Faculty Recruitment to Enhance Research Resources through Biomedical Research Core Centers (P30)
In the spirit of supporting the creation of new jobs, this RFA invites applications from U.S. academic institutions/organizations to support the hiring of newly-recruited faculty to develop research projects within the context of Biomedical Core Centers. These awards , using the P30 mechanism, are designed to enhance innovative programs of excellence by providing scientific and programmatic support for promising research faculty and their areas of research. NIMH has committed $5 million to this RFA, with actual expenditures to be determined by the quantity and quality of proposals (due May 29, 2009).
Comparative Effectiveness Research
Comparative effectiveness research (CER) seeks to identify the best options for currently available treatments. NIMH has been a leader in CER with studies such as Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) and Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D). ARRA allocated $1.1 billion to CER, of which $400 million will ultimately go to NIH. We will be determining the actual allocation of these funds to specific Institute projects later this summer.
Other ARRA NIH-wide Opportunities
Several other NIH-wide opportunities are described on the NIH Recovery Act Web site . For instance, $1 billion has been allocated to the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) to support extramural construction, repairs, and alterations to support NIH research at NIH funded institutions. Another $300 million will be awarded by NCRR for shared instrumentation grants in support of NIH research. The National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) has released a series of announcements for addressing health disparities. NIMH will particularly benefit from $500 million dedicated to construction on the NIH campus, which should permit completion of the Porter Neuroscience Research Center. Additional ARRA funded NIH-wide projects are expected to roll out this summer.
Research to Address the Heterogeneity of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Using ARRA funds, NIMH developed an initiative to address the short-term objectives set forth earlier this year by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee. This RFA is the largest funding opportunity for research on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to date and, combined with other Recovery Act initiatives, represents a surge in NIH’s commitment to finding the causes and treatments for autism. NIMH, along with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) are setting aside $60 million for this RFA. Nearly 600 applications were received for this RFA. Review is planned for June and July, with recommendations for NAMHC by August.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Budget Summary
ARRA provides NIH a total of $10.4 billion, available for two years—through September 2010.
- $8.2 billion in support of scientific research priorities
- $7.4 billion is transferred to the ICs and Common Fund (CF), based on a percentage-based formula
- $800 million to the Office of the Director (OD) (not including CF) (For example, support for Challenge Grants, a program designed to focus on health and science problems where progress can be expected in two years.)
- To support additional scientific research-related activities that also align with the overall purposes of ARRA
- $1 billion to support Extramural Construction, Repairs, and Alterations
- Allocated to NCRR in support of all NIH funded research institutions
- $300 million Shared Instrumentation and other capital equipment
- Allocated to NCRR to support all NIH activities
- $500 million for NIH buildings and facilities
- To fund high priority repair, construction and improvement projects on NIH campuses that also align with the overall purpose of ARRA
- $400 million for CER
NIMH Summary (proposed total costs for two years — actual amounts will depend on the proposals received):
|Expanding the payline:||$91M|
|Other (RMS, IRP):||$8M|
NIH Roadmap – Selected Updates
The Transformative R01 (T-R01) program was created to support exceptionally innovative, high risk, original and/or unconventional research projects with the potential to profoundly impact a broad area of biomedical or behavioral research. The T-R01 program will pilot novel approaches to peer review and program management to optimize these processes. Pending their approval, 20 applications will be funded under the 50/50 Institute/Roadmap cost-sharing model, and up to three fully funded by an institute. Three additional applications with mental health relevance are being co-funded through the Roadmap Epigenomics Program
The Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) Project
GTEx aims to provide the scientific community with a resource for studying human gene expression and regulation and its relationship to genetic variation. The primary goal of this two-year pilot project is testing the feasibility of collecting high-quality RNA and DNA from multiple tissues from approximately 160 densely genotyped donors identified through autopsies conducted close to time of death or organ transplant settings. A small subset of tissues will also be collected from living surgery patients for comparison. If successful, the project will be scaled up to involve around 1,000 donors. As part of this initiative, the RFA “Novel statistical methods for human gene expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis ” was issued on April 1, 2009.
Epigenomics of Health and Human Disease
This initiative will support research on fundamental epigenomic changes or mechanisms underlying specific diseases; conditions of development or aging; or responses to exposures to physical, chemical, behavioral, or social factors. This initiative will be funded as a 50/50 cost share between the NIH Roadmap and specific ICs, which will foster multiple IC involvement and facilitate the transition to individual ICs at the end of each funding period. The first set of RFAs will be funded in September 2009, with additional RFAs released annually thereafter.
The RFA, “Solicitation of Assays for High Throughput Screening (HTS) in the Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN) ", issued in March 2009, offers public sector biomedical researchers access to the large-scale screening capacity necessary to identify small molecules that can be optimized as chemical probes to study the functions of genes, cells, and biochemical pathways. This will lead to new ways to explore the functions of genes and signaling pathways in health and disease.
Rapid Access to Interventional Development (RAID)
The NIH RAID program aims to make available, on a competitive basis, certain critical resources needed for the development of new therapeutic agents. This program uses resources of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Developmental Therapeutics Program and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Gene Therapy Resource Program. Depending on the stage of the project and the strength of preliminary data, available services include production, bulk supply, manufacturing that complies with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Good Manufacturing Practices standards, formulation, development of an assay suitable for pharmacokinetic testing, and animal toxicology. Assistance also will be provided in the regulatory process, through access to independent product development planning expertise.
As described in the notice, “NIH-RAID Administrative Supplements for Preclinical Efficacy Testing of Candidate Therapeutics ” issued on March 5, 2009, these supplements are intended to facilitate the discovery and development of novel therapeutic agents. RAID will provide funds for the in vitro or in vivo efficacy assessment of promising therapeutic candidates to determine their suitability for further preclinical development.
NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research
The NIH Neuroscience Blueprint is a framework to enhance cooperation among the 15 NIH ICs that support research on the nervous system. Created in 2004, the Blueprint already has a number of cross-cutting projects funded, from training initiatives to support for knockout mouse resources. Going forward, the Blueprint will focus on neural plasticity in 2009. Since our last meeting in February, several activities under the Blueprint have moved forward:
Grand Challenge: The Human Connectome Project — Leader: Michael Huerta, NIMH
The overall purpose of the five year Human Connectome Project (HCP) is to develop and share knowledge about the structural and functional connectivity of the human brain. Specific efforts for achieving this goal include:
- Existing, but cutting-edge, non-invasive imaging technologies will be optimized and combined to acquire structural and functional in vivo data about axonal projections and neural connections from brains of hundreds of healthy adults.
- Demographic data and data regarding sensory, motor, cognitive, emotional, and social function will also be collected for each subject, as will DNA samples and blood (to establish cell lines). Models to better understand and use these data will be developed, and connectivity patterns will be linked to existing architectonic data.
- Data and models will be made public immediately via a user-friendly system to include tools to query, organize, visualize and analyze data.
- Outreach activities will be conducted to engage and educate the research community about the imaging tools, data, models, and informatics tools.
Neuroplasticity Tools Team — Leaders: Michelle Freund, NIMH; Ned Talley, NINDS; John Satterlee, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Based on the concept document approved by the IC Directors, a new project team was formed to develop an RFA soliciting projects to develop tools or techniques that will significantly advance the ability to monitor or manipulate neuroplasticity and advance the current state of the art in that area. The RFA, “Probes and Instrumentation for Monitoring and Manipulating Nervous System Plasticity” was published in the NIH Guide last March and a parallel small business innovation research (SBIR) program announcement was published in April 2008. Fifty R01 applications were received in September 2008 and reviewed in March 2009. About 16 applications were recommended for payment by the project team. This RFA was selected by the Enhancing Peer Review committee to serve as a pilot for the new 1–9 scoring system.
Neuroplasticity Circuit Retraining Team — Leader: Judy Rumsey, NIMH
The workshop, “Harnessing neuroplasticity for human applications,” held in April, sought to promote the translation of basic neuroplasticity and circuit retraining research into strategies for human clinical applications. About 30 leading scientists attended, representing a diverse range of specialties, discussed a variety of issues related to plasticity and identified future research needs. The team is currently evaluating how NIH might use information from the workshop to address these needs.
Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse (NITRC) and Supplementary Initiatives — Leaders: James Luo, Zohara Cohen, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and BioEngineering (NIBIB).
NITRC won first place among 61 candidates in the Excellence.gov awards, which is the largest federal government award program to recognize the best in government information technology programs. NITRC won based on its success in fostering resource sharing. In only 1.5 years, NITRC has built a community of nearly 60,000 unique visitors with 42,000 downloads. More than 53 percent of the tools on NITRC are new tools that have not been previously shared online. With an average tool development grant of $350,000, the team estimates that if a research laboratory uses only 7 percent of the tools on NITRC today instead of requesting new government funding, this project will have more than paid for itself.
New features on the NITRC Web site include quick links to key functions, search capability, and expanded content throughout, from “fMRI and directly related structural MRI,” to the more general “functional and structural neuroimaging.” The team had a booth and presented a poster at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society conference in March 2009. Other recent initiatives include starting the NITRC Community Wiki Page to list test data sets , collaborating with the Neuroscience Information Framework to include NITRC content in search terms, and collaborating with the International Neuroscience Coordinating Facility to point to NITRC resources rather than duplicate efforts.
NIMH Base Funding Update
NIMH Initiatives Solicited
- Microbicide Innovation Program (MIP V)
The purpose of MIP is to support novel, high-risk and under-explored strategies in the field of topical microbicides that can prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), NIMH, with support from the NIH Office of Research in Women’s Health (ORWH) solicits R21/R33 applications that introduce novel scientific ideas, model systems, tools, agents, targets, and technologies with the potential to iteratively and substantially advance this field.
Release/Posted Date: April 15, 2009; Expiration Date: July 11, 2009
NIH Guide version of the R21/R33 announcement (RFA-AI-09-021)
Scientific Program Director: Jim A. Turpin, Ph.D., Division of AIDS, NIAID
- Collaborative Study of Suicidality and Mental Health in the U.S. Army
NIMH, in collaboration with the U.S. Army, solicits cooperative research project grant (U01) applications aimed at conducting an epidemiologic study of mental health, psychological resilience, suicide risk, suicide-related behaviors, and suicide deaths in the U.S. Army. The overall objective of this research is to evaluate multiple determinants of suicide-related events, including potentially protective mechanisms, with the intent of informing the development of effective strategies for mitigating suicide risk and enhancing the resilience of Army personnel across all phases of Army service.
Release Date: January 5, 2009; Expiration Date: April 4, 2009
NIH Guide version of the U01 announcement (RFA-MH-09-140)
Scientific Program Director: Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., ABPP, Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR), NIMH
- Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS)
The BRAINS program is intended to support the research and research career development of outstanding scientists who are in the early, formative stages of their careers and who plan to make a long term career commitment to research in specific mission areas of NIMH. This award seeks to assist these individuals in launching an innovative clinical, translational, or basic research program that holds the potential to profoundly transform the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of mental disorders, paving the way for a cure. Each year, the BRAINS program will focus on a specific area of research and research career development need, with neurodevelopment being the focus in this inaugural year.
Release/Posted Date: October 30, 2008 ; Expiration Date: February 4, 2009
NIH Guide version of the R01 announcement (RFA-MH-09-100)
Scientific Program Director: Kathleen C. Anderson, Ph.D., Division of Developmental Translational Research (DDTR), NIMH
- Suicide Prevention in Emergency Medicine Departments (U01)
One of the highest risk factors for mortality from suicide is having made a previous attempt. Unfortunately, many patients evaluated in an emergency department following an attempt do not receive follow up care. This new RFA will fund projects to address this gap in mental health care.
Release/Posted Date: February 9, 2009; Expiration Date: April 15, 2009
(NIH Guide version of the U01 announcement RFA-MH-09-150 )
Scientific Program Director: Jane Pearson, Ph.D., DSIR, NIMH
- Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Returning Combat Veterans in the Community
NIMH is seeking applications to study the impact of existing national, state, and/or local community-based programs addressing the adjustment and mental health needs of recent combat veterans, including returning National Guard, Army Reserve, and newly separated active duty personnel. Research projects supported through this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will produce new information concerning effective strategies for fostering successful transition from combat to civilian roles for returning service members. NIMH expects that knowledge gained will benefit service members and their families, employers, and relevant federal, state, and local agencies, and will inform future initiatives for recently returned combat veterans.
Release/Posted Date: July 24, 2008; Expiration Date: May 2, 2009
NIH Guide version of the R01 announcement (RFA-MH-09-070)
cientific Program Director: Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., ABPP, Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR), NIMH
- Exploratory Studies of Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cells from Healthy and Mental Health Patient Populations
NIMH invites Phased Innovation (R21/R33) grant applications from organizations and institutions that propose to generate and characterize iPS cells from human control and/or patient populations with cognitive, affective, or social disorders. This RFA seeks to address a gap in understanding fundamental molecular and cellular defects and the role of altered developmental processes in these disorders.
Release/Posted Date: November 14, 2008; Expiration Date: February 28, 2009
NIH Guide version of the R21/R33 announcement (RFA-MH-09-130)
Scientific Program Director: David M. Panchision, Ph.D., Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science (DNBBS), NIMH
- Novel Interventions for Neurodevelopmental Disorders
NIMH and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) seek to encourage a broad scope of new treatment approaches with potential for widespread, cost-effective application across a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders based on the targeted domain(s) of impairment. This RFA will provide support for a first phase (R21) for initial technical development and proof-of-principle and a second phase (R33) for further development, application, and evaluation of clinical utility. It is intended that the results will support the development of larger efficacy studies of the proposed novel intervention. A parallel RFA using the R34 mechanism will provide resources for evaluating the feasibility, tolerability, acceptability and safety of novel approaches, and for obtaining the preliminary data needed to support the development of a larger-scale efficacy trial.
Release/Posted Date: March 6, 2009; Expiration Date: May 13, 2009
NIH Guide version of the R21/R33 announcement (RFA-MH-09-161 )
NIH Guide version of the R34 announcement (RFA-MH-09-160)
Scientific Program Director: Ann Wagner, Ph.D., DDTR, NIMH
Basic and Translational Developmental Neuroscience Recruitment Initiative
In response to a recommendation of the NAMHC Workgroup on Neurodevelopment, the NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP) is formulating an initiative to recruit new faculty members in the area of basic or translational developmental neuroscience. A brainstorming meeting to solicit input from extramural investigators regarding the scientific strategy and issues of implementation for this initiative will be held on May 29, after the NAMHC meeting. Council members Pat Levitt, John March, and David Amaral will be attending, along with other extramural investigators, intramural investigators, and NIMH program staff. Richard Nakamura, NIMH IRP Director, will chair the meeting.
Science of Note
Flow of Potassium Into Cells Implicated in Schizophrenia
May 05, 2009 • Press Release
A study on schizophrenia has implicated machinery that maintains the flow of potassium in cells and revealed a potential target for new treatments. Expression of a previously unknown form of a key potassium channel was found to be 2.5 fold higher than normal in the brain memory hub of people with the chronic mental illness and linked to a hotspot of genetic variation.
Huffaker SJ, Chen J, Nicodemus KK, et al. A primate-specific, brain isoform of KCNH2 affects cortical physiology, cognition, neuronal repolarization and risk of schizophrenia. Nat Med. 2009 May;15(5):509-18.
Gene On/Off Instructions Inherited Via Novel Mechanism
April 06, 2009 • Science Update
The first large-scale study of its kind in twins has turned up evidence that we inherit instructions for the turning on and off of genes via mechanisms beyond the traditional sequence differences in the genetic code. Moreover, the results suggest that early random errors in replicating these instructions may trump environmental influences in shaping us.
Kaminsky ZA, Tang T, Wang SC, et al. DNA methylation profiles in monozygotic and dizygotic twins. Nat Genet. 2009 Feb;41(2):240-5.
Oh G, Petronis A. Environmental studies of schizophrenia through the prism of epigenetics. Schizophr Bull. 2008 Nov;34(6):1122-9.
Arai JA, Li S, Hartley DM, Feig LA. Transgenerational rescue of a genetic defect in long-term potentiation and memory formation by juvenile enrichment. J Neurosci. 2009 Feb 4;29(5):1496-502.
Brain Scanning Gives Clues to How Genes Shape Behavior, Disease Risk
February 27, 2009 • Science Update
In an experiment in which people viewed changing images of slot machines, inherited differences in brain chemistry predicted the magnitude of responses in the brain to the prospect and receipt of reward.
Dreher JC, Kohn P, Kolachana B, Weinberger DR, Berman KF. Variation in dopamine genes influences responsivity of the human reward system. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jan 13;106(2):617-22.
Risk of Autism Tied to Genes that Influence Brain Cell Connections
April 28, 2009 • Science Update
In three studies, including the most comprehensive study of autism genetics to date, investigators funded in part by NIH have identified common and rare genetic factors that affect the risk of autism spectrum disorders. The results point to the importance of genes that are involved in forming and maintaining the connections between brain cells.
Wang K, Zhang H, Ma D, et al. Common genetic variants on 5p14.1 associate with autism spectrum disorders. Nature. 2009 Apr 28. [Epub ahead of print]
Glessner JT, Wang K, Cai G, et al. Autism genome-wide copy number variation reveals ubiquitin and neuronal genes. Nature. 2009 Apr 28. [Epub ahead of print]
Ma D, Salyakina D, Jaworski JM, et al. A Genome-wide Association Study of Autism Reveals a Common Novel Risk Locus at 5p14.1. Ann Hum Genet. 2009 May;73(Pt 3):263-73.
Thinning Tissue in Right Half of Brain Signals Increased Risk of Inherited Depression
May 08, 2009 • Science Update
In cases of familial depression, changes in tissue thickness in key brain structures in the right half of the brain may increase a person’s risk for developing depression, according to NIMH-funded researchers. Similar changes in the left half of the brain were linked to the severity of a person’s existing depression or anxiety symptoms. Based on their findings, the researchers proposed a possible mechanism for how these brain changes affect depression risk.
Peterson BS, Warner V, Bansal R, et al. Cortical thinning in persons at increased familial risk for major depression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 14;106(15):6273-8.
Autism Skews Developing Brain with Synchronous Motion and Sound
March 31, 2009 • Press Release
Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) tend to stare at people’s mouths rather than their eyes. Now, an NIH-funded study in 2-year-olds with the social deficit disorder suggests why they might find mouths so attractive: lip-syncing — the exact match of lip motion and speech sound.
Klin A, Lin DJ, Gorrindo P, Ramsay G, Jones W. Two-year-olds with autism orient to non-social contingencies rather than biological motion. Nature. 2009 May 14;459(7244):257-61.
ADHD Medication Treatment Associated with Higher Academic Performance in Elementary School
April 27, 2009 • Science Update
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who take medication to treat the condition tend to do better in math and reading compared to their peers who also have ADHD but do not take medication, according to data from a national survey.
Scheffler RM, Brown TT, Fulton BD, Hinshaw SP, Levine P, Stone S. Positive association between attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder medication use and academic achievement during elementary school. Pediatrics. 2009 May;123(5):1273-9.
Suicidal Thinking May Be Predicted Among Certain Teens with Depression
February 17, 2009 • Science Update
Certain circumstances may predict suicidal thinking or behavior among teens with treatment-resistant major depression who are undergoing second-step treatment, according to an analysis of data from an NIMH-funded study.
Brent DA, Emslie GJ, Clarke GN, et al. Predictors of spontaneous and systematically assessed suicidal adverse events in the treatment of SSRI-resistant depression in adolescents (TORDIA) study. Am J Psychiatry. 2009 Apr;166(4):418-26.
Premature Birth Risk Higher for Pregnant Women Taking SSRIs or Suffering from Untreated Depression
March 19, 2009 • Science Update
Untreated major depression, as well as the use of antidepressant medications, may increase the risk for premature birth, but the risk of other problems in fetuses—such as breathing, gastrointestinal, or motor problems—may not be increased, according to an NIMH-funded study of pregnant women.
Wisner KL, Sit DK, Hanusa BH, et al. Major depression and antidepressant treatment: impact on pregnancy and neonatal outcomes. Am J Psychiatry. 2009 May;166(5):557-66.
Use of Antipsychotics in Alzheimer’s Patients May Lead to Detrimental Metabolic Changes
April 15, 2009 • Science Update
Atypical antipsychotic medications are associated with weight gain and other metabolic changes among patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness—Alzheimer’s Disease (CATIE-AD) study.
Zheng L, Mack WJ, Dagerman KS, et al. Metabolic changes associated with second-generation antipsychotic use in Alzheimer’s disease patients: the CATIE-AD study. Am J Psychiatry. 2009 May;166(5):583-90.
Health Care Costs Much Higher for Older Adults with Depression Plus Other Medical Conditions
February 13, 2009 • Science Update
Medicare participants who have diabetes or congestive heart failure as well as depression have significantly higher health care costs than their counterparts who do not have co-existing depression, according to a recent NIMH-funded analysis.
Unützer J, Schoenbaum M, Katon WJ, et al. Healthcare costs associated with depression in medically ill fee-for-service Medicare participants. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 Mar;57(3):506-10.
Childhood Maltreatment Undermines Physical Health in Adulthood
March 30, 2009 • Science Update
It’s well known that early life experiences can affect a child’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development. A recent study funded by NIMH takes this link one step further showing that negative childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can affect a person’s physical health as well. The study suggests a history of child abuse or neglect can lower a person’s overall immunity and ability to manage stress, and that this effect may be long-lasting.
Shirtcliff EA, Coe CL, Pollak SD. Early childhood stress is associated with elevated antibody levels to herpes simplex virus type 1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Feb 24;106(8):2963-7.
Black Teens, Especially Girls, at High Risk for Suicide Attempts
April 10, 2009 • Science Update
Black American teens, especially females, may be at high risk for attempting suicide even if they have never been diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to researchers funded in part by NIMH. Their findings, based on responses from adolescent participants in the National Survey of American Life (NSAL), provide the first national estimates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors (ideation) and suicide attempts in 13- to 17-year-old black youth in the United States.
Joe S, Baser RS, Neighbors HW, Caldwell CH, S Jackson J. 12-Month and Lifetime Prevalence of Suicide Attempts Among Black Adolescents in the National Survey of American Life. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2009 Mar;48(3):271-82.
Youths Exposed to HIV Before Birth Have Higher Chance of Developing Psychiatric Disorders
March 19, 2009 • Science Update
Youths who were exposed to HIV before birth, especially those who were born HIV positive, have a high chance of developing psychiatric disorders, according to an NIMH-funded study.
Mellins CA, Brackis-Cott E, Leu CS, et al. Rates and types of psychiatric disorders in perinatally human immunodeficiency virus-infected youth and seroreverters. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2009 Feb 27. [Epub ahead of print]
Research Conferences and Workshops
NIMH Institutional Training Grant Program Directors Meeting
March 02, 2009 – March 03, 2009
T32 Program Directors and NIMH staff discussed the unique challenges and opportunities associated with training future NIMH investigators.
New Perspectives in the Translational Neuroscience of Late Life Mental Disorders
February 02, 2009 – February 03, 2009
The goal of this workshop was to bring together basic and clinical researchers to identify key research questions relative to discovering the causes of mental disorders, and to chart mental illness trajectories to determine when, where and how to intervene.
April 29, 2009 – May 2, 2009
Banbury Center, Cold Spring Harbor, NY
This was the first annual meeting for residents in psychiatry with an interest in research, bringing together 15 outstanding residents (mostly M.D.-Ph.D.s) with thought leaders in NIMH research. The small group sessions were interactive and focused not only on the science, but also aspects of career planning and mentoring.
Outreach Partnership Program 10th Annual Meeting
The NIMH Outreach Partnership Program held its annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, in March 2009. The Outreach Partnership Program is a national program that enlists one partner from each of the 50 states (two in California, Texas and New York) and the District of Columbia in conducting outreach and education to help bridge the gap between mental health research and clinical practice. The meeting provided the opportunity for participants to hear scientific updates from NIMH, NIH staff, and guest speakers; to present their own activities; and to network with one another. This year the conference highlighted the importance of clinical research and trials, interventions to prevent homelessness, and mental health in the workplace. Partner breakouts focused on outreach to youth and older adults. For more information, please contact Alison Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brain Awareness Week
NIMH was the lead Institute in coordinating NIH participation in the 10th annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW) health and science information fair, held at the National Museum of Health and Medicine on the campus of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. BAW is an international effort that takes place for one week in March and is designed to teach middle school students about the neurosciences and brain health. The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness about brain research, sponsors the program. In addition to NIMH, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), NIDA, NINDS, and NIAAA also participated in the event. NIMH issued a press release and published an article in the NIH Record about the event. For more information, please contact Phyllis Quartey-Ampofo at email@example.com.
NIH Take Your Child to Work Day
In April, NIMH participated in NIH’s 15th annual Take Your Child to Work Day, which introduces children of NIH employees to the world of biomedical research and to the wide array of skills and services needed to support it. The NIMH Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison (OCRPL) coordinated two presentations, “The Wonders of the Brain,” which focused on the importance of visual processing and explored how the mind plays tricks with images it sees; and “Memory and the Brain,” which introduced participants to memory and behavior and explored how memories are stored in the brain. Both presentations were led by young scientists from NIMH’s IRP. For more information, please contact Phyllis Quartey-Ampofo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIMH Professional Coalition for Research Progress Annual Meeting
OCRPL convened the fifth annual Professional Coalition for Research Progress Meeting in May. The Coalition comprises representatives from professional organizations having an interest in NIMH research. The meeting was an opportunity for NIMH to share information about research advances, current and new directions for NIMH, and possible future strategies, as well as a time for representatives to share their views on NIMH research. Attendees heard presentations on a collaborative study of suicidality and mental health with the U.S. Army, support for research training and career development, and an overview of progress in genomics research. For more information, please contact Gemma Weiblinger at email@example.com.
FY 2009 Appropriation
On March 11, 2009, the FY 2009 Omnibus appropriations bill was signed. The NIH program level is $30,395 million, about $938 million more than the FY 2008 Actual. Non-competing Research Project Grant (RPG) awards will receive the full committed level for all grants and the average cost for competing RPGs is allowed to increase 3.0 percent over FY 2008. The Omnibus appropriations bill provided an NIMH program level of $1,450 million, for an increase of $38 million, or +2.7 percent, over the FY 2008 Actual Comparable. In addition, the bill provides for a $1 million Departmental transfer for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, which will be managed for NIH by NIMH.
FY 2010 President’s Budget Request
The FY 2010 NIMH President’s Budget Request became public on May 07, 2009. This request would provide a total NIH program level of $30,838 million, about $443 million more than the FY 2009 Omnibus. Non-competing RPG awards will receive an inflationary increase of 2.0 percent and the average cost of competing RPGs is allowed to increase 2.0 percent over FY 2009. The FY 2010 request of $1,475 million for NIMH is an increase of $24 million or +1.7 percent over the FY 2009 Omnibus. NIMH actual expenditures by budget mechanism for FY 2008, estimates for FY 2009 Omnibus, and the FY 2010 President’s Budget are displayed on Attachment 1.
The NIH total FY 2010 President’s Budget Request (PDF file, 9 pages) can be found on the NIH Office of Budget Web site.
The FY 2010 request of $1,475 million for NIMH is an increase of $24 million or +1.7 percent over the FY 2009 Omnibus.
- At the FY 2010 President’s Budget level, NIMH would support an estimated 2,026 total RPGs compared to an estimated 2,098 total RPGs in FY 2009. Approximately 521 of the 2,026 grants to be funded in FY 2010 will be competing awards, either new or renewal. This compares to an estimated 494 in FY 2009 and 573 in FY 2008.
- The NIMH success rate for RPGs in FY 2010 would be about 18 percent, compared to an NIH average of about 21 percent
Major Awards for NIMH Grantees
New HHMI Investigators
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) named two current NIMH grantees Hughes Early Career Scientists in April 2009. Rather than awarding research grants, HHMI appoints scientists as investigators and provides long-term flexible funding to pursue innovative research projects at their home institutions. The NIMH grantees in this year’s group were:
- Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University
- Ryohei Yasuda, Ph.D., Duke University
Roche-Nature Medicine Translational Neuroscience Awards
- Alcino Silva, Ph.D., Professor at UCLA, received the Senior Award for Translational Neuroscience at the April 2009 Roche – Nature Medicine Translational Neuroscience Symposium in Basel, Switzerland. The award recognizes an established investigator “who is a major contributor to the understanding of the pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental disorders through either preclinical or clinical work, whose findings are expected to pave the way for new mechanism-based medicines that will significantly improve the treatment of patients with neurodevelopmental disorders in terms of efficacy, safety, benefits and innovation, and whose contributions are expected to have a major influence on the future of translational neuroscience.”
- Eric Morrow, M.D., Ph.D., Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a recipient of an NIMH Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award in the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, received the Junior Award for Translational Neuroscience. Dr. Morrow was recognized for this work in tracing a diverse range of genetic mutations in autism, supporting the concept of defective regulation of gene expression as the common mechanism of the disorder.
Steven Chu, Ph.D., co-winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997 and co-PI with Dr. Axel Brunger on an NIMH R01 entitled, “Single Molecules Studies of SNARE-Induced Vesicle Fusion,” was nominated and confirmed as the new U.S. Secretary of Energy. Because of his new position and move, Dr. Chu has relinquished his role on the NIMH-funded project, and experiments previously conducted at the Lawrence Berkeley labs are being transferred to Dr. Brunger’s labs at Stanford University.
Sean Joe, Ph.D., LMSW, Assistant Professor of Social Work and of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, was selected for the 2009 recipient of the Edwin Shneidman Award from the American Association of Suicidology for outstanding contributions in research to the field of suicide studies. The award was presented in April at the 42nd American Association of Suicidology Conference in San Francisco.
Steven Maier, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, received the 2009 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association to acknowledge his contributions to psychology, neuroscience and psychoneuroimmunology. This award honors psychologists who have made distinguished theoretical or empirical contributions to basic research in psychology.
Velma McBride Murry, Ph.D., Betts Chair of Education and Human Development and professor of human and organizational development at Vanderbilt University, received the 2008 Charles C. Shepard Science Award, Prevention and Control category, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This award recognizes excellence in science achievement by CDC authors of outstanding scientific papers. The awards honor Dr. Shepard, a former CDC scientist, whose career was marked by the pursuit of scientific excellence.
Joseph Newman, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin and long-time NIMH grantee, was awarded the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy’s 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s April conference in New Orleans.
Dan Schacter, Ph.D., William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, won the 2009 Howard Crosby Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychology, which is awarded to “individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of experimental psychology during the previous five years.” Dr. Schacter was recognized for his contributions to research on human memory, especially neuropsychological studies and studies of normal aging that illuminate the phenomenon of false remembering.
Susan T. Azrin, Ph.D., joined the Services Research and Clinical Epidemiology Branch (SRCEB) of NIMH’s Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR) in April 2009. Dr. Azrin will be managing the Primary Care Research portfolio within SRCEB. She previously worked at Westat, where she served as a Senior Study Director on several projects of national importance, including the Social Security Administration’s Mental Health Treatment Study and the National Evaluation of Mental Health Parity within the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. In addition, Dr. Azrin has worked on studies of collaborative care for depression and quality of life for persons with serious mental illness. She also served as a policy analyst and writer on the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health from 2002-2005. She holds a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland.
Pamela Collins, M.D., M.P.H., accepted the position of the Associate Director for Special Populations and Director of the Offices of Special Populations and Global Mental Health and will be joining NIMH on July 20, 2009. A graduate of Purdue University, she received her M.D. from Cornell University Medical College, completing her residency in psychiatry at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, and obtained a M.P.H. from Columbia University School of Public Health. Dr. Collins comes to NIMH from Columbia University, where she is Assistant Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health (MSPH), and Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Collins also directs the Interdepartmental Global Health Track and is the co-director of the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity at the MSPH.
Dr. Collins’s research focuses on mental health and psychosocial aspects of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. In the United States, her studies have addressed the HIV prevention needs of women with severe mental illness. Dr. Collins’ research also examines the contribution of social stigma related to mental illness and ethnicity to women’s HIV risk. Internationally, she has conducted training of healthcare providers in mental health, HIV/AIDS transmission, prevention, and counseling in Argentina, Zambia, Uganda, and South Africa. She has served as a consultant to the Directorate of Mental Health in South Africa and as a member of its Task Team for Policy Guidelines on HIV/AIDS in Psychiatric Institutions. She is also a member of the WHO Integrated Management of Adult and Adolescent Illness mental health working group.
Under Dr. Collins, NIMH will increase its focus on disparities in mental health both inside and outside of the United States.
Lisa J. Colpe, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DSIR on April 6, 2009. Dr. Colpe comes to NIMH on a temporary duty assignment from the Division of Population Surveys, Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Using her skills as a psychiatric epidemiologist, she will assist NIMH in launching the Collaborative Study of Suicidality and Mental Health in the U.S. Army, the largest-ever study of mental health, psychological resilience, suicide risk, suicide related behaviors, and suicide deaths among Active Duty and Reserve Component Soldiers.
Kevin Hornbeak joined the Grants Management staff in March, coming from NIH’s sister organization, the Agency for Heathcare Research Quality (AHRQ).
Beverly A. Pringle, Ph.D., joined NIMH in April 2009 to oversee the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Research Program within SRCEB. Dr. Pringle has a distinguished career in public service, having previously served as a health scientist administrator, deputy branch chief, and branch chief of the Services Research Branch at NIDA. Her research has covered a variety of topics including treatment services for adolescent drug abuse; pain, memory, and distress management in pediatric cancer patients; parent behaviors in pediatric settings; and education policy for underserved and disadvantaged populations. Her current research interests include expanding the accessibility, quality, and effectiveness of mental health care for all children and adolescents, with a special focus on underserved populations. Dr. Pringle received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland, where her training included pediatric psychology; affective and anxiety disorders; traumatic brain injury; parenting, group, and family therapy; domestic violence; and psychodiagnostic and behavioral assessment.
Tiffany Yates joined the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science (DNBBS) in March as Executive Assistant. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in 2004, and has since served as Executive Assistant for business firms in California and Texas before assuming her current position at the NIMH.
Courtney Ferrell, Ph.D., left NIMH in March to assume the position of Program Director, Office of Minority Health and research at NINDS. In this role, her portfolio will focus on specialized neuroscience research programs at minority institutions. Dr. Ferrell has been a valuable and energetic contributor to the NIMH Division of Developmental Translational Research (DDTR) and NIMH training and research programs since her arrival at NIMH in 2004, and to numerous programmatic committees and workgroups across NIMH, as well as NIH. She recently graduated from the prestigious USDA Graduate School Executive Potential Program.
Wayne Goodman, M.D., will be leaving his position as Director of NIMH’s Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development (DATR) at the end of June to assume the position of Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. During his tenure with NIMH, Dr. Goodman has been instrumental in helping the Institute develop plans for implementing the NIMH Strategic Plan and has played an important role in efforts to develop biomarkers and encourage research that promotes novel treatments.
Transfers and Other NIMH Staff Changes:
Philip Wang, M.D., Dr.P.H., has accepted the position of Deputy Director for NIMH, following a nationwide search. Dr. Wang previously served as Director of DSIR since joining NIMH in 2006. In that role, he repositioned DSIR to support innovative and high impact research for diverse populations with mental disorders. Among recent notable initiatives are efforts on cost effectiveness models, adapting state mental health systems as experimental laboratories for health care reform, and the collaborative U.S. Department of Army study on suicide, the largest such effort in NIMH history.
Dr. Wang is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health. He is a recipient of the American Psychiatric Association’s Health Services Research Scholar Award and is one of the most highly cited scientists in areas as diverse as depression in the workplace and noncompliance with anti-hypertensive medications. His interests in comparative effectiveness, mental health care reform, and health disparities make him an ideal leader for the NIMH in this era.
National Institute of Mental Health FY 2010 President's Budget
(Dollars in Thousands)
Attachment 1 - Table 1 of 3
|FY 2008 Actual (Incl. GEI & Supplemental Transfers)|
|Coop. Clin. Res||0||540||5||3,882||5||4,422|
|Res. Mgmt. & Supp||223||60,273||1/||15||7,725||238||67,998|
|% Over Prior Year||0.6%||1.4%||0.7%|
1/ Includes $983 for Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.
Attachment 1 - Table 2 of 3
|FY 2009 Estimate|
|Coop. Clin. Res||0||0||5||878||5||878|
|Res. Mgmt. & Supp||228||61,659||2/||15||7,903||243||69,562|
|% Over Prior Year||2.6%||3.0%||2.7%|
2/ Does not include $1,000 transfer for Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.
Attachment 1 - Table 3 of 3
|FY 2010 President's Budget|
|Coop. Clin. Res||0||0||2||1,568||2||1,568|
|Res. Mgmt. & Supp||241||62,738||15||8,041||256||70,779|
|% Over Prior Year||1.7%||1.6%||1.7%|