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Recovery Act: Grand Opportunities Grants - NIMH Areas

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Recovery Act Limited Competition for NIH Grants: Research and Research Infrastructure “Grand Opportunities” (RC2) (RFA-OD-09-004 )

National Institute of Mental Health

The purpose of the NIH Research and Research Infrastructure Grand Opportunities ("GO" grants) program is to support high impact ideas that lend themselves to short-term, non-renewable funding, and may lay the foundation for new fields of investigation. The program will support large-scale research projects at U.S. institutions that accelerate critical breakthroughs, early and applied research on cutting-edge technologies, and new approaches to improve the synergy and interactions among multi and interdisciplinary research teams.

This initiative is one of several being offered by NIMH to help fulfill the goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) to help stimulate the economy through support of biomedical and behavioral research. Additional information the Recovery Act and related NIH opportunities is available through the Office of Extramural Research .

Areas of Scientific Priority:

NIMH research supported by the GO grants program should be short-term, have the potential for high impact, have a high likelihood of accelerating the goals outlined in NIMH’s Strategic Plan, and address one or more of the topics outlined below:

  • Genomic Profiling of Mental Disorders

    Goal: To gain a comprehensive understanding of the molecular pathophysiology of mental disorders, their component phenotypes, and comorbidities. This initiative will invite studies to develop and apply novel and cutting-edge approaches in genomic technologies (including deep and whole genome sequencing); epigenomic technologies; epidemiological methods; and bioinformatics; as well as the application of these approaches to large scale studies in existing and new cohorts.

    Description: In the last year, unprecedented advances have been made in identifying molecular risk factors for mental disorders and related phenotypes through comparative studies of common and rare genetic and structural variation of the human genome. These advances were achieved by applying high throughput genomic technologies to the assessment and analysis of genetic and structural variation of whole genomes in large, well characterized cohorts of patients with mental disorders. Though studies have begun to elucidate the interplay between genomic function, genomic structure, and environmental factors in mental disorders, it is clear that they account for only a small proportion of clinical phenotypes. Novel approaches and larger scale efforts are needed to identify the molecular circuitry of these disorders. Furthermore, some clinical phenotypes of mental disorders or their component phenotypes may have overlapping molecular risk factors, requiring novel strategies for phenotypic assessment, analysis, and ascertainment of samples.

    The goal of this initiative is to solicit applications to (1) develop and apply novel and ultra high throughput technologies for cost effective re-sequencing of whole genomes, genomic regions, or candidate genes and (2) study the epigenome and/or molecular elements involved in gene regulation in large cohorts of existing or new samples with phenotypes. Areas of interest include:

    • Large scale studies that propose to identify and characterize pathogenomic regions and elements within and across phenotypes
    • Studies that phenotypically and genetically ascertain probands and first and second-degree relatives
    • Studies that develop the concomitant cyberinfrastructure and bioinformatics tools

    Contact: Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., M.P.H., (301) 443-9869,

  • Neurodevelopmental Genomics: Trajectories of Complex Phenotypes

    Goal: To ascertain, phenotypically characterize, and collect and analyze genomic and other biomarker data from a large and representative cohort of children and adolescents, as well as create a resource for data, biomaterials, and appropriately consented study participants for future studies in neurodevelopmental genomics and, more broadly, mental disorders and their links with substance use disorders, other brain disorders and common physical conditions such as asthma and obesity.

    Description: Symptoms of mental disorders often emerge during childhood and adolescence and change over time due to processes related to brain maturation and experience. Understanding the trajectory of healthy development and those associated with mental disorders is important for the identification of vulnerability and early intervention as well as protective factors and resilience. Identification of biomarkers – behavioral, neurobiological, genetic and environmental – is essential for progress in understanding disorders of complex behavior in childhood development.

    Despite the emergence of powerful genomic and bioinformatic technologies that can be used to identify risk, there is a lack of available resources from large representative samples of children and adolescents who have been well-characterized at both the phenotype and genotype levels. This effort will allow for the collection and analysis of comprehensive information on very large samples that will allow for better understanding of the molecular circuitry of neurodevelopment that underlie trajectories of risk and resilience in mental health and disease and their environmental mediators and co-morbidities. In addition, the infrastructure that will be created to manage, store, analyze and present the data generated by this project will create an invaluable database that may be used for years to come by the mental health research community.

    Areas of interest include:

    • Assessment of broad domains of developmental psychopathology in large and diverse samples of children and adolescents;
    • Collection of biologic samples that can be used to characterize genetic and other biomarkers of disease risk;
    • Development of measures of cognitive function, emotion processing, stress reactivity and/or other domains related to neural systems vulnerable to neurodevelopmental aberrations;
    • Identification of neural substrates of gene-environment interactions affecting complex behavior;
    • Establishment of gene networks that underlie neuronal vulnerability leading to mental disorders; and,
    • Establishment of a resource of biomaterials, phenotypic data, and the cyber-infrastructure necessary for the integration, presentation and analyses of these large data sets for the investigator community.

    Applicants must demonstrate the feasibility to reach large sample sizes within the time frame provided for this project. Leveraging existing research efforts in other areas of medicine and expanding existing consented populations and research infrastructures are encouraged.

    Contact: Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., M.P.H., (301) 443-9869,

  • Transcriptional Atlas of Human Brain Development

    Goal: The goal of this initiative is to identify novel transcripts and regional expression patterns that can be followed up subsequently with histochemical mapping for cellular specificity. Studies will use the latest sequencing and profiling technologies to follow gene expression from multiple brain regions across prenatal and postnatal development. These data will be made available to the research community at-large via an easy-to-use, web-based informatics framework.

    Description: Mental disorders, like other complex disorders, are increasingly being recognized as brain disorders that have their origins during development. While these developmental brain disorders occur in people at genetic risk, we know relatively little about how specific risk genes affect brain development or which risk gene variants influence RNA expression across development. Knowledge of which genes are expressed in particular brain regions at particular points in development is essential for understanding how genetic variation affects normal and abnormal brain development, potentially giving rise to mental disorders.

    The goal of this initiative is to support studies that will create a transcriptional atlas in the developing human brain. Studies will use the latest sequencing and profiling technologies to follow gene expression in multiple brain regions (e.g., medial prefrontal cortex, primary visual cortex, hippocampus, ventral striatum, amygdala) from multiple post-mortem samples across prenatal and postnatal (including adolescent) development. Tissue for this atlas is already available in current repositories. The goal is to identify novel transcripts and regional expression patterns by September 2010 that can be followed up subsequently with histochemical mapping for cellular specificity. Importantly, these data will be made available to the research community at-large via an easy-to-use, web-based informatics framework.

    The translational significance of this human brain initiative is enhanced by its relationship to an initiative currently funded by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research . This Blueprint project is developing a unique scientific resource that details precise cellular level expression patterns of developmentally regulated and functionally important genes in the developing brain of non-human primates. The proposed NIMH Transcriptional Atlas of Human Brain Development will be able to directly relate to the NIH Blueprint atlas, thus providing a bridge between the two. To facilitate this comparison, developmental time-points chosen for the NIMH atlas would, ideally, be roughly analogous to those being examined in the NIH Blueprint atlas. Responsive applications will demonstrate the skills and expertise necessary to carry out this research.

    Contact: Michelle Freund, Ph.D., (301) 443-1815,

Update: Interrelated RC2 (GO) applications for NIMH only

NIMH will be accepting interrelated RC2 (GO) grant applications submitted by Principal Investigators (PIs) who are working in collaboration to conduct their GO studies. Given that NIMH’s topics for the GO grants are particularly amenable to collaborations across sites, NIMH will accept such interrelated applications.

Such interrelated applications must clearly indicate in the cover letter that the submissions are being directed to the NIMH and list all the PIs of the individual applications in the group. In addition, the title must be formatted as follows: “1/N” applications + identical title (e.g., “1/6-Developmental Brain Patterns of Novel Transcripts”, where the 1/6 indicates this is application 1 of 6 in the set. The other applications will be tagged 2/6, 3/6…etc., with the same title). Titles may not exceed 80 characters in length, including the tag at the start (i.e., 1/6).


Overall, NIMH expects to devote approximately $50 million per year to the GO grants program. Only applications with budgets greater than $500,000 in total costs per year for a project period of two years will be considered; the total annual cost for individual awards may vary. The GO grants program will use the RC2 mechanism.

Awarded GO grants will be subject to extensive reporting requirements, as stipulated by the Recovery Act (see NOT-OD-09-054 ).

Key Dates:
Opening Date: April 27, 2009 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: April 27, 2009
Application Due Date: May 29, 2009
Peer Review Date: June/July 2009
Council Review Date: August 2009
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: September 30, 2009

Please note: Institutions and Organizations applying for NIH Recovery Act grants MUST be registered at both  and eRA Commons . Registration can take up to four weeks to complete.

Full information on the GO grants program can be found in the NIH Funding Opportunity Announcement (RFA-OD-09-004) .

Contact Information:

For General Information on NIMH's GO Grants Initiative, Contact:
Jean G. Noronha, Ph.D.
Referral Liaison Officer
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institutes of Health
Phone: (301) 443-3367

For Financial or Grants Management Questions, Contact:
Rebecca Claycamp, M.S., CRA
Chief Grants Management Officer
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6115, MSC 9605
Bethesda, MD 20892-9605
Telephone: 301-402-7111

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