Funding News for Current and Future NIMH Awardees • April 2010 Edition
April 2010 Table of Contents
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Welcome to the spring 2010 edition of Inside NIMH. This edition of the newsletter discusses initiatives that the Institute is now supporting using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as important NIH-wide and NIMH-specific updates. I hope you find this information interesting and helpful. Please let us know if you have questions or comments on this edition.
Thomas R. Insel, M.D.
Message from the NIMH Director
Now that we are well into 2010, I would like to briefly review the NIMH budget for the fiscal year (FY). In December 2009, the President signed an omnibus appropriations bill that included a 2.7 percent increase for NIMH, with total funding of $1.489 billion. This budget should allow us to fund between 15 and 20 percent of new and competing applications. We are projecting support of roughly 550 new research grants for 2010, which is close to the mean of the past 5 years. Please see the NIMH Web site for information about the Fiscal Year 2010 funding strategy. Our planning for 2010 will be shaped substantially by our efforts to capitalize and build on investments made using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). Recovery Act funds have been used to jumpstart the NIMH Strategic Plan, which the Institute sees as a vehicle to facilitate priority setting, rapid exploitation of new scientific opportunities, and monitoring the public health impact of NIMH research.
On February 1st, the FY 2011 President’s Budget Request was submitted to Congress. The FY 2011 request for NIH is $32.239 billion, an increase of $1.0 billion, or 3.2 percent above the FY 2010 level. The FY 2011 request for NIMH is $1.540 billion, an increase of $50.6 million, or 3.39% over the FY 2010 level. Later this month, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of NIH, will participate in the annual appropriations hearings to discuss the FY 2011 Budget Request.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight three recently funded projects that exemplify our efforts to accelerate mental health research and to advance the NIMH Strategic Plan. For example, Carrie Bearden, Ph.D., and her UCLA team will use advanced neuroimaging techniques to examine the developmental trajectory of cortical and sub-cortical brain structures in a group of children with and without 22q.11.2 deletion syndrome (velocardiofacial/DiGeorge syndrome), a disorder with known genetic etiology that represents the most common known genetic risk factor for the development of psychotic illness. The study will investigate risk factors for positive and negative psychotic-like symptoms and the underlying genetic sources of variability associated with the syndrome. This research not only offers an opportunity to establish the neural substrates for the psychotic symptoms that emerge in this rare syndrome, but also to advance our understanding of the mechanisms by which other psychotic illnesses—such as schizophrenia—arise.
Researchers Jeffery Conn, Ph.D. and Craig Lindsley, Ph.D., of Vanderbilt University, were awarded a grant to discover and optimize novel drug candidates targeted at the GlyT1 glycine transporter and the M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, thereby advancing schizophrenia treatment research into the preclinical and clinical stages of the drug development pipeline. GlyT1 inhibitors and M1 allosteric agonists represent complementary approaches to restore NMDA receptor function in schizophrenia, but are typically applied separately. The combined approach represents a mechanistic departure from currently available treatments, and has the potential to treat all major symptom clusters of schizophrenia.
Steve Bartels, M.D., M.S., from Dartmouth Medical School is working on a project to address early mortality associated with severe mental illness (SMI). The study will implement two interventions within community mental health centers in order to improve the physical health of individuals with SMI and reduce disparities in life expectancy. One intervention targets behavior change related to diet, exercise, and smoking cessation. The second intervention seeks to change health providers’ prescribing behavior to reduce excessive or unnecessary antipsychotic prescriptions, and promote appropriate switching to medications with better side effect profiles. The researchers will assess the impact of state mental health policy on patient outcomes, provider behavior, and system-level variables (e.g., costs, service use, and fidelity to model).
NIMH is increasing its commitment to global mental health, keeping with the spirit of the Strategic Plan to support research that incorporates the diverse needs and circumstances of all people with mental illnesses. Under the direction of Pamela Collins, MD, MPH, head of our new Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health, we will identify the best research opportunities in global mental health and create several initiatives. Throughout this year, NIMH will be leading a Grand Challenge project with the Global Alliance for Chronic Disease, and by the end of 2010, we hope to have developed a strategy for global mental health research.
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to a new NIH program, launched in November 2009: the Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet). OppNet is a trans-NIH initiative, to expand the agency's funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research. Such research will improve our understanding of fundamental mechanisms and patterns of behavioral and social functioning, and how these mechanisms and patterns interact with each other, with neurobiological mechanisms, and with environmental factors. Research results are expected to lead to new approaches for reducing risky behaviors and improving overall health and well-being.
New Announcements about Funding Opportunities
Each week, NIH electronically distributes the NIH GUIDE, a listing of all NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), which include requests for applications (RFAs), program announcements (PAs), and important notices for the scientific community. Below is a selection of recently issued FOAs in which NIMH participates. The Research Funding page on the NIMH Web site has links to listings of all NIMH FOAs and other resources.
Note: You can subscribe to the NIMH Funding Opportunities LISTSERV to receive the latest information about RFAs and other research funding opportunities from NIMH, as well as administrative updates and changes to grant policies and procedures. You can also subscribe to a separate LISTSERV to receive weekly e-mails of the NIH GUIDE.
NIMH-Administered Requests for Applications
Seeding National Mentoring Networks to Enhance Diversity of the Mental Health Research Workforce
This FOA solicits Resource-Related Research Projects-Cooperative Agreement (U24) applications proposing to conceptualize, plan, and pilot an innovative prototype of a national infrastructure for mentoring individuals from diverse groups who are conducting research relevant to the mission of NIMH. It is expected that the resulting infrastructure will be capable of sustaining an effective and vibrant national mentoring network. Each mentoring network will be expected to have a focused scientific theme that is highly germane to the mission and strategic priorities of NIMH, including the Center for Mental Health Research on AIDS. NIMH expects that each mentoring network will recruit outstanding researchers as mentors for individuals (protégés) at various career stages beginning no earlier in the career path than the post-baccalaureate level.
Release Date: November 13, 2009; Expiration Date: September 30, 2010
NIMH-Collaborative Requests for Applications
Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN)
This FOA, administered by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), invites applications from investigators willing to participate with NICHD, NIDA, and NIMH under a cooperative agreement (U01) to support the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN). The primary mission of the ATN will be to conduct research, both independently and in collaboration with existing research networks and individual investigators, in HIV-infected and HIV-at-risk pre-adolescents, adolescents, and young adults up to age 25 years. This network will have the capacity for developing and conducting selected behavioral, community-based translational, prophylactic, therapeutic, microbicide and vaccine trials.
Release Date: January 20, 2010; Expiration Date: April 15, 2010
Recovery Act Requests for Applications
Recovery Act Limited Competition: NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce
This Recovery Act initiative encourages exceptionally creative scientists to develop highly innovative, possibly transforming, approaches for promoting diversity within the biomedical research workforce. To be considered highly innovative, the proposed research must reflect ideas substantially different from those already being pursued or it must apply existing research designs in new and innovative ways to unambiguously identify factors that will improve the retention of students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty from diverse backgrounds. Applications for projects that are extensions of ongoing research should not be submitted. Director’s Pathfinder awardees will be required to commit a major portion (generally 30% or more) of their research effort to activities supported by the Director’s Pathfinder Award. Those who cannot approach an effort requirement at or near this level should not submit applications. Those with effort levels less than 30% must provide evidence that the effort committed will be sufficient to carry out the proposed research. All applications must be submitted as “new” applications regardless of any previous submission.
Release Date: March 5, 2010; Expiration Date: May 5, 2010
Recovery Act Limited Competition: Impact of Decision-Support Systems on the Dissemination and Adoption of Imaging-Related Comparative Effectiveness Findings
This Recovery Act initiative invites Research Project Cooperative Agreement applications from organizations that propose to study the impact of clinical decision support systems in disseminating and increasing the consideration of comparative effectiveness research findings. The purpose of this FOA is to implement and assess real-time decision support systems, which if effective, could be broadly adopted.
Release Date: March 10, 2010; Expiration Date: May 6, 2010
NIH Roadmap Initiatives
The NIH Roadmap is a trans-NIH effort to support innovative science, stimulate interdisciplinary research, and reshape clinical research to accelerate medical discovery and improve public health. Workgroups co-chaired by the Directors of NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) and populated by nominees from various Institutes developed initiatives for the Roadmap, which can be viewed online. The following are projects co-led by NIMH:
The PAR, Solicitation of Assays for High Throughput Screening (HTS) in the Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN), 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.
Release Date: March 12, 2009; Expiration Date: January 5, 2012
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 (FDA) 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. For more information, please contact the NIH-RAID program office: email@example.com.
NIH Common Fund: Announcing New Programs
New research programs and funding opportunities, supported through the NIH Common Fund, are being launched in Fiscal Year 2010 to address critical needs and opportunities in a number of cross-cutting areas:
Below you will find a sampling of some of the funding announcements associated with these cross-cutting areas:
Advancing Regulatory Science through Novel Research and Science-Based Technologies
This FOA encourages applications that propose to study the applicability of novel technologies and approaches towards the development and regulatory review of medical products (including drugs, biologics, and devices). This regulatory science initiative will foster the development, evaluation and availability of new or improved tools, methods, standards, and applied science that support a better understanding and improved evaluation of product safety, quality, effectiveness, and manufacturing throughout the product life cycle. This area of science has knowledge gaps that deserve special emphasis and would benefit from strategic coordination and planning by NIH and FDA. Advances in this area depend on the incorporation of cutting-edge science and evidence-based knowledge into regulatory decision making. Support through this FOA for regulatory science research will facilitate the translation of biomedical discoveries to improve prevention, treatment, and diagnosis of human health problems.
Release Date: February 24, 2010; Expiration Date: April 28, 2010
Science of Behavior Change: Finding Mechanisms of Change in the Laboratory and the Field
This FOA solicits applications that will improve understanding of the basic mechanisms of behavior change by bridging work in the laboratory and the field. This understanding will advance several goals, including: the identification of the optimal targets and time-points in the life course for intervention; the identification of common mechanisms of change related to either multiple or bundled health behaviors; the ability to tailor interventions to particular at-risk individuals or groups; the application of novel technologies for behavioral assessment and change; and the identification of individuals or groups most likely to benefit from specific interventions. This initiative seeks to establish the groundwork for a unified science of behavior change, capitalizing on emerging basic science to accelerate investigation of common mechanisms that play a role in initiating or maintaining behavior change, and are applicable across a broad range of health-related behaviors. Approaches from behavioral economics; the social, behavioral, cognitive and affective neurosciences; neuroeconomics; behavior genetics and genomics; and systems science are specifically encouraged.
Release Date: February 4, 2010; Expiration Date: April 27, 2010
Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award
The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) initiative assists institutions to create an integrated academic home for Clinical and Translational Science that has the resources to train and advance multi- and inter-disciplinary investigators and research teams with access to innovative research tools and information technologies that apply new knowledge and techniques to patient care. CTSAs attract basic, translational, and clinical investigators, community clinicians, clinical practices, networks, professional societies, and industry to develop new professional interactions, programs, and research projects. Through innovative advanced degree programs, CTSAs foster the discipline of Clinical and Translational Science that is broader and deeper than their separate components.
Release Date: January 26, 2010; Expiration Date: October 15, 2010
NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Initiatives
The Neuroscience Blueprint is a framework to enhance cooperative activities among 16 NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices that support research on the nervous system. The Blueprint aims to develop research tools, resources, and training and to make them available to the neuroscience community. In 2009, the Blueprint Grand Challenges were launched to catalyze research with the potential to transform our basic understanding of the brain and our approaches to treating brain disorders. The Human Connectome Project (HCP) will use state-of-the-art neuroimaging technology to explore the connectivity of the healthy adult human brain. By systematically collecting brain imaging data from hundreds of subjects, the HCP will yield insight into how brain connections underlie brain function, and will open up new lines of inquiry for human neuroscience. In addition to brain imaging, the HCP will involve collection of DNA samples, demographic information and behavioral data from the subjects. Together, these data could hint at how brain connectivity is influenced by genetics and the environment, and in turn, how individual differences in brain connectivity relate to individual differences in behavior.
The Grand Challenge on New Drugs for Diseases and Disorders of the Nervous System will set up a pipeline to move candidate drugs for neurological disorders through preclinical development into early clinical trials. Successful applicants to the program will receive funding to conduct biological testing in their laboratories and unprecedented access to a full range of industry-style drug development services and expertise. The investigators will retain the intellectual property for compounds they develop through this program. A Notice of Intent has been issued to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop responsive projects. A Request for Applications is expected to be published in April 2010 with a receipt date in August 2010.
The Grand Challenge on Pain will support research that explores how pain can change from an acute, temporary state to a chronic, potentially disabling condition. The initiative seeks to bring researchers from the neuroplasticity field into the pain field, and supplements were made available to set up these collaborations under an existing NIH grant. In the next two years, this Grand Challenge will be expanded to promote larger collaborative projects on the transition from acute to chronic pain and to train new investigators in state-of-the-art methods for studying pain.
Notice of Availability of Administrative Supplements for R25 Science Education Grants
The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research announces an administrative supplement program of $600,000 in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 to provide funds to Blueprint Institute-supported research education projects (see Eligibility section below). The purpose of this program is to create and broadly disseminate materials/programs to inform students and teachers in kindergarten-12th grade about the field of neuroscience.
Release Date: January 26, 2010; Expiration Date: June 1, 2010
Future Research Directions
National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) Concept Clearances for Potential New Research Initiatives
Public-Venue-Approved Concept Clearances
This listing of concepts is meant to provide the earliest possible alert to potential applicants in order to maximize application preparation time. While NIMH plans to proceed with these initiatives, their publication and timing is not certain and depends on sufficient funds being available. The resultant FOA may differ from the concepts.
Summary of NIMH-Sponsored Scientific Meetings
Research workshops and scientific meetings are some of the best forums in which to identify research gaps and to stimulate new areas of mental health research. Below is a brief description of meetings that NIMH sponsored recently. Questions about a specific meeting can be addressed by the program contact listed in the meeting description.
Update on Electronic Submission of Grant Applications
Please take the time to review the major changes that are happening to NIH applications for due dates after January 25, 2010. Applications using incorrect forms or following old instructions will be delayed and may not be reviewed! To better understand the new requirements, the Enhancing Peer Review Web site has a page dedicated to the application changes and has made available to you a number of resources on the Training and Communications Resources page. Two important updates to bear in mind:
The Enhancing Peer Review Web site will continue to be updated with additional resources as they are developed. To be notified when new application packages become available, sign up on the Enhancing Peer Review LISTSERV or look out for an announcement in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.
Stay Connected with NIMH
In pursuit of new ways to reach our stakeholders, NIMH has leapt into the world of social media. In addition to our email newsletters and RSS updates, NIMH now offers a vodcast series entitled, “Speaking of Science,” and YouTube videos on mental health topics. We have also entered the world of Twitter, where we highlight Science Updates, Press Releases, and other timely matters. You can even find us on Facebook! Be sure to read our Director’s Blog for insights into the latest topics in mental health research.
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Recent NIMH News Releases
All releases and updates are posted to the Science News section of the NIMH Web site. These are all also distributed to the public through the NIMH LISTSERV, which now has more than 20,000 subscribers.
If you have a manuscript accepted for publication that describes an especially significant finding, please contact your NIMH program director to discuss the possibility of a news release or other forms of dissemination.