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Director’s Update: Robert K. Heinssen, Ph.D., ABPP, Named Director of NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research

Robert K. Heinssen Ph.D., ABPP, has been named Director of the Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR) at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr. Heinssen has been serving as Acting Director of DSIR since early 2009.

Dr. Heinssen joined NIMH in 1999. Since then, he has championed translational behavioral research strategies for improving screening, assessment, treatment, and preventive interventions for people with serious mental illness. He is widely recognized as a scientific leader in the areas of prodromal schizophrenia research, first episode psychosis, and neuroscience approaches for improving assessment and remediation of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. In 2009 Dr. Heinssen played a pivotal role in launching the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) initiative, a major collaborative study focusing on the earliest phases schizophrenia, as well as the NIMH-Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS). 

He has won several awards, including the Department of Health and Human Services’ Hubert H. Humphrey Award for Service to America (2008), the National Institutes of Health Director’s Award (2009), and the NIMH Director’s Award (2009). In 2010 Dr. Heinssen was named NIMH Supervisor of the Year. He sits on the Editorial Board of Clinical Psychology Review, serves as Co-Chair for the Department of Defense/U.S. Army Suicide Prevention Research Program Working Group, and is a Scientific Reviewer for the Joint Program Alignment Peer Review Panel, U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command, Military Operational Medicine Research Program.

Outside of his duties at NIMH, Dr. Heinssen is a commissioned behavioral science officer in the Maryland Army National Guard. As a mobilized reservist, he recently spent several months in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Army Joint Mental Health Advisory Team. Dr. Heinssen also serves as a Disaster Mental Health Volunteer with the American Red Cross.

Dr. Heinssen earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Catholic University of America. He completed a clinical fellowship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Before joining NIMH, he worked for 12 years as a clinical researcher and mental health practitioner at Chestnut Lodge Hospital and Research Institute in Rockville, MD. While there, he developed several science-based, multi-disciplinary treatment programs for people with schizophrenia. He is the founder and past president of the Schizophrenia Special Interest Group within the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology.