Skip to content

Recovery Act: NIH Challenge Grants – NIMH Areas

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research (RFA-OD-09-003 )

National Institute of Mental Health

NIH has received new funds for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), Pub. L. No. 111-5. The NIH has designated at least $200 million in FYs 2009 – 2010 for a new initiative called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research .

This new program will support research on topic areas that address specific scientific and health research challenges in biomedical and behavioral research that would benefit from significant 2-year jumpstart funds.

The NIH has identified a range of Challenge Areas that focus on specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods that would benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area in significant ways. Each NIH Institute, Center, and Office has selected specific Challenge Topics within the broad Challenge Areas  related to its mission. The research in these Challenge Areas should have a high impact in biomedical or behavioral science and/or public health.

NIH anticipates funding in total 200 or more Challenge grants, each up to 2 years and up to $1 million in total costs, pending the number and quality of applications and availability of funds. In addition to mental health projects that may receive funding from central NIH resources, NIMH plans to commit approximately $45 million per year of its Recovery Act funding to the Challenge Grants initiative.

In addition, Recovery Act funds allocated to NIH specifically for comparative effectiveness research (CER) may be available to support additional grants. Projects receiving these funds will need to meet this definition of CER: “a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients. Such a study may compare similar treatments, such as competing drugs, or it may analyze very different approaches, such as surgery and drug therapy.” Such research may include the development and use of clinical registries, clinical data networks, and other forms of electronic health data that can be used to generate or obtain outcomes data as they apply to CER.

The application due date is April 27, 2009.

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

Broad Challenge Areas and Specific Challenge Topics

Note: Those marked with an asterisk (*) are the highest priority topics; however, applicants may apply to any of the topics.

For the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), these Challenge Topics are:

(01) Behavior and Behavioral Change

01-MH-101 Social networks and negative health behaviors related to HIV/AIDS. Enhance the methodology and/or devise novel methods to capture social network information for groups at high risk for negative health behaviors related to HIV/AIDS. Contact: Emile Brouwers, Ph.D., 301-443-4526, ebrouwer@mail.nih.gov

(02) Bioethics

02-MH-101 Evidence–based practice guidelines for HIV prevention strategies. Develop evidence-based practice guidelines for informed consent, standards of care, and comprehension of partial efficacy for new HIV prevention strategies (e.g., microbicides, vaccines, circumcision, PrEP). Contact: Andrew D. Forsyth, Ph.D., 301-443-8403, aforsyth@mail.nih.gov
02-OD(OSP)-101* Unique Ethical Issues Posed by Emerging Technologies. Advances in biotechnology and biomedical science raise novel ethical, legal, and social issues. Research in this area is needed to understand the unique ethical concerns related to emerging technologies (e.g., biotechnology, tissue engineering, nanomedicine, and synthetic biology). These include issues such as dual use research, privacy, safety, intellectual property, commercialization and conflict of interest, among others. Research is also needed to assess how these novel issues are addressed under current oversight and regulatory structures and identify where there may be gaps and/or need for revised or new oversight approaches. OD(OSP) Contact: Abigail Rives, 301-594-1976, rivesa@od.nih.gov; NIMH Contact: Jean Noronha, Ph.D., 301-443-3367, jnoronha@mail.nih.gov.
02-OD(OSP)-102* Ethical Issues in Health Disparities and Access to Participation in Research. Research is needed to assess the under-representation in biomedical and clinical research of U.S. minority populations, underserved populations, and populations who may be vulnerable to coercion or undue influence, to identify barriers to participation in research and to develop approaches for overcoming them. Additionally, studies are needed to assess the impact and ethical considerations of conducting biomedical and clinical research internationally in resource-limited countries. OD(OSP) Contact: Abigail Rives, 301-594-1976, rivesa@od.nih.gov; NIMH Contact: Jean Noronha, Ph.D., 301-443-3367, jnoronha@mail.nih.gov.
02-OD(OSP)-103* Ethical Issues Associated with Electronic Sharing of Health Information. The development of an electronic health information infrastructure and the sharing of health information for patient care and research offer enormous promise to improve health care and promote scientific advances. However, the broad sharing of such data raises numerous ethical issues that may benefit from additional studies (e.g., those related to privacy and confidentiality). Examples include studies to assess risks associated with health information technology and the broad sharing of health information for research, and novel approaches for mitigating them. Examination could also include analysis of current oversight paradigms and suggestions for enhancements, as well as assessments of how privacy risks may change in the future. OD(OSP) Contact: Abigail Rives, 301-594-1976, rivesa@od.nih.gov; NIMH Contact: Jean Noronha, Ph.D., 301-443-3367, jnoronha@mail.nih.gov.
02-OD(OSP)-104* Ethical Issues in the Translation of Genetic Knowledge to Clinical Practice. Genetics and genomics have great promise for the development of personalized medicine, yet the ethical, legal and social implications of both the research and application of genetic and genomic knowledge and technology are far reaching. Studies are needed to better understand the factors that influence the translation of genetic information to improved human health and the associated ethical issues. Examples of studies include those to address ethical issues related to broad sharing and use of new genetic information and technologies for research to improve human health, human subjects protection in genetic and genomic research, the identifiability of genetic/genomic information and how our understanding of identifiability is evolving, return of research results and incidental findings to subjects, alternative models of informed consent for broad data sharing for research, and the impact of intellectual property (IP) issues on development of new technologies. OD(OSP) Contact: Abigail Rives, 301-594-1976, rivesa@od.nih.gov; NIMH Contact: Jean Noronha, Ph.D., 301-443-3367, jnoronha@mail.nih.gov
02-OD(OSP)-105* Ethical Issues Raised by the Blurring between Treatment and Research. The distinction between clinical practice and research is growing less clear, a trend that may be more pronounced with respect to genetic information and medical records research. Studies are needed to better understand the ethical issues associated with this trend. Examples of studies include those to identify how this blurring in roles affects traditional human subjects protections, including, for example, essential practices such as informed consent, conceptions of the doctor/patient and investigator/subject relationship, and privacy protections. OD(OSP) Contact: Abigail Rives, 301-594-1976, rivesa@od.nih.gov; NIMH Contact: Jean Noronha, Ph.D., 301-443-3367, jnoronha@mail.nih.gov.

(03) Biomarker Discovery and Validation

03-MH-101* Biomarkers in mental disorders. Search for innovative approaches to identify candidate biomarkers for mental disorders that are suitable for subsequent validation efforts. Potential biomarkers would predict disease risk and course, prognosis, and/or treatment response. Techniques could include behavioral assessments, electrophysiology, neuroimaging, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, or any combination thereof. Contact: Steven J. Zalcman, M.D., 301-443-1692, szalcman@mail.nih.gov

(04) Clinical Research

04-MH-101* Autism: Addressing the challenge. Target research gap areas identified by the Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research, including biomarkers, novel interventions, and new tools for screening, among other topics. Contact: Ann E. Wagner, Ph.D., 301-443-5944, awagner@mail.nih.gov
04-MH-102 Refining categories of clinical phenotypes for mental health research purposes. Support research to refine and validate categories of clinical phenotypes to be used in mental health research. NIMH is in the process of developing these categories, defined as dimensions of cognition or behavior that map on to brain circuits, genetic architecture, or conserved behaviors. Contact: Jane Steinberg, Ph.D., 301-443-3658, jsteinbe@mail.nih.gov
04-MH-103 Interventions that target symptom dimensions of childhood-onset mental disorders. Conduct studies to develop novel interventions that target symptom dimensions of childhood-onset mental disorders, as well as related syndromes.Two-year awards will support initial technical development and proof-of-principle, pre-clinical studies, pilot studies of novel interventions, and novel strategies for matching individuals to available treatments.Contact: Lisa Gilotty, Ph.D., 301-443-3825, gilottyl@mail.nih.gov
04-MH-104 Access to services by individuals with autism and their families. Engage well-characterized subjects and families in existing autism research activities in preliminary studies exploring variations in access to and use of services, identification of targets for services interventions, and exploration of how variations in service use affect family functioning in diverse populations. Contact: Denise M. Juliano-Bult, M.S.W. 301-443-3364, djuliano@mail.nih.gov
04-MH-105 Developing interventions and service delivery models for the transition to adulthood. Conduct pilot studies to develop and test developmentally appropriate, evidence-based prevention interventions and service delivery models for youth with who are at high risk for, or experiencing severe mental illnesses who are transitioning to adulthood. Studies would propose strategies to address discontinuities in service systems and health care financing. Contact: Joel Sherrill, 301-443-2477, jsherril@mail.nih.gov

(05) Comparative Effectiveness Research

05-MH-101* Leveraging Existing Healthcare Networks for Comparative Effectiveness Research on Mental Disorders and Autism. Existing large integrated healthcare networks are needed to more efficiently conduct large-scale effectiveness trials in “real-world” patient settings. The NIMH solicits individual or collaborative, linked grant applications from researchers with experience conducting studies within large integrated healthcare delivery systems to develop and test infrastructure to efficiently conduct trials on the effectiveness of treatment, preventive and services interventions to improve care for people with mental disorders and autism. Applicants can propose studies to 1) demonstrate the ability to identify, recruit and enroll large patient populations into clinical trials, 2) harmonize electronic medical record data across multiple integrated systems for research use, 3) pool data for common analyses, and 4) build capacity for the collection and storage of biologic material. Contact: David Chambers, D.Phil., 301-443-3747, dchamber@mail.nih.gov
05-MH-102* Cost Effectiveness of Mental Health Interventions Information on the cost effectiveness of promising mental health interventions is needed to ensure widespread uptake by payers and health systems. NIMH is interested in adding/extending cost-effectiveness components to randomized controlled trials of treatment, preventive and services interventions through two-year grants. Investigators should prioritize the calculation of the cost/QALY ratio by the most advanced available methodologies to ensure that findings from these projects can contribute to improving the efficiency of mental health care financing. In addition, researchers can conduct analyses of existing databases for systematic cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit, benefit/harm analyses or to compare interventions on “real life outcomes” such as level of functioning or acceptability, using meta-analytic methods. Contact: Agnes Rupp, Ph.D., 301-443-3364, arupp@mail.nih.gov
05-MH-103* Collaboration with AHRQ Comparative Effectiveness Research Program
In FY09 and FY10 the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) plans to support research grants (PA-09-070) on comparative effectiveness of clinical treatments and services as authorized in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA) Section 1013. MMA section 1013 mandates two mental health categories: Depression and other mental health disorders; and Developmental delays, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. NIMH is interested in funding ancillary studies including but not limited to: 1) studies on the comparative effectiveness of important new or existing technologies; and 2) assessment of the comparative effectiveness of treatments that are commonly administered to children but have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness in adult populations. Two year studies will contribute to successfully implement the mental disorders components of MMA Section 1013 by utilizing AHRQ networks ( e.g. EPCs, DEcIDE, CERTs, PBRN, ACTION, etc) to generate information for health care decision-making. Contact: Agnes Rupp, Ph.D., 301-443-3364, arupp@mail.nih.gov
05-MH-104* Building ASD Registries for Use in Comparative Effectiveness Research
Given the low base-rate and high variability of phenotypes among people with autism, comparative effectiveness trials of treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) provide significant recruitment challenges to include well-phenotyped samples. Autism registries are needed to more efficiently conduct large-scale effectiveness trials in “real-world” service systems. The NIMH solicits grant applications from researchers with experience in diagnosis of ASD and database registry creation to develop and test infrastructure to efficiently identify populations to include within registries for use in future ASD comparative effectiveness trials. Grants applications to optimize current registries and leverage existing databases are encouraged. Applicants can propose studies to 1) demonstrate the ability to identify and collect relevant clinical, environmental, and genetic data from large populations with autism within multiple service settings, 2) Improve consensus on “caseness” within samples, given variability in phenotypes 3) harmonize data systems across multiple integrated systems serving populations with autism (e.g. health care, special education, Medicaid) for research use, 4) pool data for common analyses, and 5) build capacity for the collection and storage of biologic material. Contact: Lisa Gilotty, Ph.D., 301-443-3825, gilottyl@mail.nih.gov

(06) Enabling Technologies

06-MH-101 Non-invasive technologies to map trajectories of axon bundles in the human brain. Develop non-invasive technologies to demonstrate the locations and trajectories of axonal bundles in the living human brain. Contact: Michael F. Huerta, Ph.D., 301-443-1815, mhuert1@mail.nih.gov
06-MH-102 Technologies to study neuronal signaling, plasticity, and neurodevelopment. Develop tools and technologies to study neuronal signaling, plasticity, and neurodevelopment. These can include new approaches, technologies, and reagents for structural and/or functional analysis of molecules and macromolecular complexes within brain cells at the resolution of single cells or sub-cellular components (e.g. synapses, dendrites, nuclei). Priority given to new technologies that allow for repeated imaging of neuronal structure and/or function (e.g. dendritic spines, synaptogenesis, and axonal projections) in longitudinal, developmental studies and to non-invasive imaging approaches or technologies that directly assess neural activity, including imaging neuronal electrical currents, neurotransmitter changes and neuronal/glial cell responses to brain circuit activation. Contact: Michael F. Huerta, Ph.D., 301-443-1815, mhuert1@mail.nih.gov
06-MH-103 New technologies for neuroscience research. Develop technologies for neuroscience research that are software-based, (e.g., informatics tools, implementation of data analytic algorithms), hardware-based (e.g., instrumentation or devices), or biology-based (e.g., driven by conditional gene expression or bioactive agents). Contact: Michael F. Huerta, Ph.D., 301-443-1815, mhuert1@mail.nih.gov
06-MH-104 Linking data resources with NIH’s National Database for Autism Research (NDAR). Link existing, significant data resources related to autism spectrum disorder with the NIH’s National Database for Autism Research (NDAR). Contact: Michael F. Huerta, Ph.D., 301-443-1815, mhuert1@mail.nih.gov
06-AG-101* Neuroscience Blueprint: Development of non-invasive imaging approaches or technologies that directly assess neural activity. This could include research on imaging neuronal electrical currents, neurotransmitter changes and/or neuronal/glial cell responses to brain circuit activation. This scientific area could be advanced by improvements/refinements in existing imaging technology or use of emerging technology that could be developed in two years. The outcome of this challenge could have high impact by connecting the system-level, large population view afforded by fMRI with the cellular processes and responses that contribute to the BOLD-fMRI signal. Two-year challenge projects could stimulate the development of human brain imaging techniques that link cell activity underlying neural communication to the structure and function of brain circuits, and could complement other brain connectivity imaging modalities. NIA Contact: Dr. Bradley Wise, 301-496-9350, wiseb@nia.nih.gov; NIMH Contact: Michael F. Huerta, Ph.D., 301-443-1815, mhuert1@mail.nih.gov

(08) Genomics

08-MH-101* Beyond GWAS: Deep sequencing of mental disorders. Over the past 3 years, genotyping studies have identified several candidate risk genes for autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Exploit new sequencing technologies that move beyond genotyping to identify rare variants and novel risk genes for these disorders in repository DNA samples. Contact: Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., M.P.H., 301-443-9869, tlehner@mail.nih.gov
08-MH-102* Schizophrenia interactome. Explore candidate genes for schizophrenia and other major mental disorders and their relationship and expression patterns. Jumpstart the move from genomics to biology by identifying the patterns of gene expression in post-mortem brain from individuals with various candidate genes. Elucidate the complex functional interactions of their protein products. Contact: Douglas L. Meinecke, Ph.D., 301-443-1692, dmeineck@mail.nih.gov
08-MH-103 Understanding the genomic risk architecture of mental disorders. Use model systems (or human postmortem tissue) to profile regional changes in gene expression across development and/or to identify epigenetic risk markers to build an understanding of the genomic risk architecture associated with mental disorders. Contact: Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D., 301-443-3825, amitchen@mail.nih.gov
08-MH-104 Technologies to analyze functional elements in genomic sequences implicated in mental disorders. Develop and/or apply technologies for high-throughput analyses of functional elements in genomic sequences implicated in mental disorders, including both cellular and whole organism methods to address affects on brain function and behavior. Contact: Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., M.P.H, 301-443-9869, tlehner@mail.nih.gov

(09) Health Disparities

09-MH-101 Validating models of community re-entry programs for prisoners with mental disorders. Harmonize administrative databases and analysis data to validate the effectiveness of existing models of community re-entry programs for released prisoners with mental illness. Contact: Denise M. Juliano-Bult, M.S.W., 301-443-3364, djuliano@mail.nih.gov
09-MH-102 Improving the quality of care of racially and ethnically diverse severely mentally ill populations. Conduct pilot studies focusing on the improvement of quality of care of racially and ethnically diverse severely mentally ill populations served in the public sector, to prepare for the development of a disparity index and assist in identifying targets to reduce disparities in quality of care. Contact: Agnes Rupp, Ph.D., 301-443-3364, arupp@mail.nih.gov

(10) Information Technology for Processing Health Care Data for Research

10-MH-101 Technologies to improve treatment adherence for mental disorders and HIV/AIDS. Develop new technologies to change patient and provider behaviors to improve adherence. This might include technologies such as automated reminder systems for patients and web-based systems that link providers, patient medical records and pharmacies to allow rapid identification of non-adherence. Contact: William Riley, Ph.D., 240-276-6973, wiriley@mail.nih.gov

(12) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education

12-MH-101 Models for national mentoring networks for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Develop and pilot innovative models for national mentoring networks for individuals from diverse backgrounds (individual from under-represented racial and ethnic groups, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and individuals with disabilities) with interest in mental health research. Contact: Nancy Desmond, Ph.D. 301-443-3107, ndesmond@mail.nih.gov

(14) Stem Cells

14-MH-101* Developing iPS cells for mental disorders. Create human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from individuals with and without mental disorders and conduct exploratory studies. Goals might include maximizing derivation efficiency/reproducibility, modeling trajectories of cellular differentiation, or profiling differences in the molecular signature of cells. Contact: David M. Panchision, Ph.D., 301-443-5288, panchisiond@mail.nih.gov

(15) Translational Science

15-MH-101 Effect of psychotropic medications on neurodevelopment and behavior in animal models. Examine the effects of commonly prescribed psychotropic medications on neurodevelopment and behavior in juvenile and adolescent animals across significant developmental transitions. Studies would collect information about the safety of these medications and how they may alter developmental trajectories in fundamental affective, cognitive, and behavioral systems. Contact: David M. Panchision, Ph.D., 301-443-5288, panchisiond@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-102 Gene x environment x development (GxExD) studies of brain function and mental disorders. Conduct exploratory studies in model systems to examine gene x environment x development (GxExD) phenomena relevant to understanding brain function and mental disorders. Profile regional changes in gene expression in the brain for at least three defined developmental timepoints and in response to relevant prenatal and/or postnatal manipulations. Contact: Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D., 301-443-3825, amitchen@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-103 Mapping the neural connectivity of a mouse model. Use high-throughput implementations of existing methods at the light microscopic-level to demonstrate systematically and comprehensively the neural connectivity of the 8-week-old, C57Bl/6J mouse to create a connectional database for comparison with the existing gene expression data for this age and strain available through the Allen Brain Atlas. Contact: Michael F. Huerta, Ph.D., 301-443-1815, mhuert1@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-104 Mouse models containing human genes implicated in mental disorders. Create novel mouse models containing human genes or genetic elements that have been implicated in mental disorders in order to study how these human alleles alter brain function and behavioral outcomes. Contact: Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D., 301-443-3825, amitchen@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-105 Strategies to support uptake of interventions within clinical and community settings. Develop and pilot comprehensive implementation strategies to support the broader uptake of interventions within clinical and community settings. Contact: David Chambers, D.Phil., 301-443-3747, dchamber@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-106 Mental health programs designed for college students with mental illness. Examine the effectiveness of mental health programs designed for college students with mental illness. Projects might include developing measures of program effectiveness or developing a collaborative research network with common data management systems. Contact: Denise M. Juliano-Bult, M.S.W., 301-443-3364, djuliano@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-107 Targets for drug discovery for mental disorders. Identify and validate novel targets for drug discovery for mental disorders, including screening to identify lead compounds for further therapeutic development. Contact: Jamie Driscoll, 301-443-5288, jdrisco1@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-108 Screening approaches to identify pharmacologic treatments for mental disorders. Develop and validate innovative in vivo screening approaches aimed at identifying new lead pharmacologic agents for treatment of mental disorders that have improved efficacy and decreased risk. Contact: Lois Winsky, Ph.D., 301-443-5288, lwinsky@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-109 Prefrontal cortex regulation of higher brain function and complex behaviors. Examine mechanisms by which the developing and mature prefrontal cortex interacts with other cortical and subcortical systems in the regulation of higher brain functions and complex behaviors. The focus should be on supporting innovative approaches to the manipulation of neural circuits. Contact: Kevin J. Quinn, Ph.D., 301-443-1576, kquinn@mail.nih.gov
15-MH-110 Understanding the mechanism of action of deep brain stimulation. Conduct basic and clinical research on the mechanism of action of deep brain stimulation. Studies should be relevant to its use in the treatment of mental disorders. This initiative will also establish a registry of clinical data, electrode targeting, and device settings which will be available for analysis and meta-analysis. Contact: Steven J. Zalcman, M.D., 301-443-1692, szalcman@mail.nih.gov

For general information on NIMH’s implementation of NIH Challenge Grants, contact:

Jean G. Noronha, Ph.D.
Referral Liaison Officer
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institutes of Health
Phone: (301) 443-3367
Email: jnoronha@mail.nih.gov

For Financial or Grants Management questions, contact:

Rebecca Claycamp, M.S., C.R.A.
Chief, Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institutes of Health
Phone: (301) 443-2811
Email: rclaycam@mail.nih.gov