Funding News for Current and Future NIMH Awardees • Autumn 2011 Edition
Autumn 2011 Table of Contents
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Welcome to the latest edition of Inside NIMH. This edition of the newsletter discusses recent funding opportunities and some new initiatives the Institute is considering for the future. We e-publish Inside NIMH after each meeting of the National Advisory Mental Health Council, which advises the Secretary of Health and Human Services; the Director, National Institutes of Health, and the Director of NIMH on all policies and activities relating to the conduct and support of mental health research, research training, and other programs of the Institute. In addition, check out the Director’s blog on our website for regular updates on timely topics at NIMH. I hope you find this information interesting and helpful. Please let us know if you have questions or comments on this edition.
I. Message from the NIMH Director
The Budget Outlook for FY 2012
As we wrap up fiscal year (FY) 2011, I’d like to talk to you about the budget outlook for FY 2012. On February 14, 2011, the President submitted his FY 2012 budget request to Congress. The FY 2012 request for NIH is $31.987 billion, an increase of $745 million, or 2.4 percent above the FY 2010 level. The FY 2012 request for NIMH is $1.517 billion, an increase of $27.5 million, or 1.84 percent over the FY 2010 level. The Senate Appropriations Committee has held a hearing on the President’s budget request for NIH, while the House Appropriations Committee has not. The Budget Control Act, enacted on August 2, 2011, subsequently capped FY 2012 discretionary spending for non-security agencies at the FY 2011 enacted level, which is below the President’s FY 2012 budget request. We do not know how this will translate into NIH and NIMH levels, or when a final FY 2012 appropriation will be determined. As in FY 2011, we are entering the new fiscal year under a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR), but the final budget appropriation for FY2012 remains to be determined.
FY 2011 was a difficult year for many NIMH applicants. We awarded 458 new and competing grants, the lowest number since 1998 and nearly 20 percent below FY 2010. The number would have been even lower, but we reduced the size of nearly all awards, eliminated support for meetings, funded fewer centers, and cut our intramural research program. I have heard from many concerned scientists who believe NIMH is no longer funding genetics, cellular neuroscience, clinical trials, or services research. Indeed, nearly everyone feels her or his area of science has been singled out for reduced support. The reality is that in nearly every area, the demand is greater than the supply of funds. We are continuing to support a diverse portfolio (see examples below), but across every area of science, there are many grants with scores in the top 20 percent that we cannot fund. This is likely to be true in FY 2012 as well.
Our guiding principle is that we must continue to invest wisely in research across a broad span of basic and clinical science, from molecular neuroscience to the science of dissemination to improve public health. We will continue to set aside funds for areas of emerging need, as you can see below from our list of RFAs. In addition, several trans-NIH initiatives, such as the Common Fund, the Neuroscience Blueprint, and OPPNet, have funding for programs relevant to NIMH applicants. However, we all need to recognize that as science becomes more expensive every year, and budgets do not keep pace with inflation, there will be outstanding grants in both NIMH and trans-NIH programs that go unfunded. Biomedical philanthropist Mary Lasker once famously quipped, “If you think research is expensive, try disease.” Mary Lasker was right—research is our best investment to reduce the burden of mental disorders and that research needs to be invested for both long-term and short-term outcomes.
And now for some news about what is being funded.
New and Notable
A selection of the Institute’s most recently funded projects that exemplify our efforts to accelerate mental health research and to advance the NIMH Strategic Plan:
For more information on these and the more than 450 new grants selected for funding in FY 2011, please visit the NIH RePORTER website.
NIMH was named by the White House as a “Champion of Change” on August 25, 2011, for efforts in supporting research on suicide prevention. The White House Champions of Change initiative celebrates individuals and organizations from all walks of life that are making an impact in communities and helping the country rise to the challenges of the 21st century. Jane Pearson, Ph.D., and Kevin Quinn, Ph.D., of NIMH accepted the award at a ceremony and roundtable event at the White House, where they joined White House policy officials and others for a discussion of suicide prevention best practices. This honor comes as NIMH is ramping up its research efforts on suicide prevention. On September 7, 2011, NIMH sponsored a videocast research symposium on suicide prevention. NIMH is also playing a key role in the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The Action Alliance is bringing many stakeholders together to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. With Phil Satow of the National Council for Suicide Prevention, I am co-leading a Research Task Force (RTF) for the Action Alliance to develop a prioritized research agenda that, if implemented successfully, will provide an empirical basis for reducing suicide deaths and suicide attempts in the United States. Please visit the RTF web page for information about how you can get involved.
II. 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 and Funding page on the NIMH website 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
Dimensional Approaches to Research Classification in Psychiatric Disorders
This FOA seeks research grant applications designed to develop innovative ways of understanding mental disorders through classifying patients in clinical studies on the basis of experimental research criteria rather than traditional diagnostic categories. This FOA stems from the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project that is intended to further a long-range goal of contributing to diagnostic systems as informed by research on genetics, neuroscience, and behavior. The purpose of this FOA is to encourage applications to study mechanisms that may cut across multiple traditional diagnostic categories. Applications submitted in response to this FOA should be based upon RDoC criteria. Five organizing domains have been identified in the draft specification. These include Negative Valence Systems (i.e., aversive motivational dimensions), Positive Valence Systems, Cognitive Systems, Social Process Systems, and Arousal/Regulatory Systems. Consensus workshops and guidance documents on Negative Valence Systems, Positive Valence Systems, and Working Memory (subsidiary of Cognitive Systems) are to have been completed by the time applications in response to this FOA are due, and applications must focus on at least one of these three RDoC domains. Interested applicants are encouraged to consult the NIMH RDoC website for current information regarding these constructs.
Release Date: August 10, 2011; Expiration Date: October 21, 2011
NIMH-Collaborative Requests for Applications
Autism Centers of Excellence: Centers
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), NIMH, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) invite new (type 1) and competitive renewal (type 2) applications for the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE): Centers Program. ACE Centers will focus on supporting the broad research goals of the 2011 Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Strategic Plan for ASD Research. The P50 mechanism allows for integrative, multi-disciplinary, coordinated programs of research that demonstrate cohesion and synergy across research subprojects and cores.
Release Date: June 3, 2011; Expiration Date: November 17, 2011
Autism Centers of Excellence: Networks
NICHD, NIDCD, NIEHS, NIMH, and NINDS invite new (type 1) and renewal (type 2) applications for the Autism Centers of Excellence: Networks Program. Each ACE Network will consist of a multi-site project focusing on a specific topic of research for R01 support through this FOA. The ACE Networks will focus on supporting the broad research goals of the 2011 Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Strategic Plan for ASD Research. Each ACE Network will submit one R01 application that includes sub-awards to the collaborating sites.
Release Date: June 3, 2011; Expiration Date: November 17, 2011
Integrated Preclinical/Clinical Program for HIV Topical Microbicides (IPCP-HTM)
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and NIMH invite applications from single institutions and consortia of institutions to participate in this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), Integrated Preclinical/Clinical Program for HIV Topical Microbicides. The purpose of this FOA is to support integrated and iterative multi-project, multi-disciplinary preclinical and exploratory clinical studies with the goal of advancing a safe, effective, and acceptable single or combination topical microbicide for the prevention of the sexual transmission of HIV. A minimum of two research projects and an Administrative Core must be proposed. At least one component (research project or scientific core) must be from a private sector for-profit or not-for-profit company.
Release Date: June 9, 2011; Expiration Date: November 9, 2011
Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health
ORWH and its cosponsors invite institutional career development award applications for Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) Career Development Programs. These programs will support mentored research career development of junior faculty members, known as BIRCWH Scholars, who have recently completed clinical training or postdoctoral fellowships, and who will be engaged in interdisciplinary basic, translational, behavioral, clinical, and/or health services research relevant to women's health or sex differences research.
Release Date: July 21, 2011; Expiration Date: October 22, 2011
Limited Competition: Global Health Program for Fellows and Scholars (Global Health Fellows)
The Fogarty International Center (FIC) plans to provide opportunities for up to four support centers to develop and support global health research education/research experience programs that meet the following objectives:
Release Date: August 16, 2011; Expiration Date: October 15, 2011
NIH Common Fund Initiatives
The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high impact, trans-NIH programs. These programs are supported by the Common Fund, and managed by the NIH Office of the Director in partnership with the various NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices.
Two new projects are being co-led by NIMH. The HMO Research Collaboratory will be developing a research partnership with large practice organizations to support mega-epidemiology and practical trials research. The Health Economics project will be supporting several pathways of research to inform the implementation of health care reform. NIH recently released a Request for Information to solicit input on the feasibility, scope, and design of a State Health Policy Database (SHPD) (NOT-RM-11-019) to identify specific policy areas for inclusion in the SHPD, by identifying key research questions that could be addressed using policy information in particular areas, viable research designs that will allow those questions to be answered, and additional data that are required to implement those research designs. The comment period ended August 26, and responses are currently under review.
The following projects currently have active funding opportunities and/or notices for NIMH applicants, have already yielded important scientific opportunities for NIMH, or are currently in development:
NIH Director’s Pioneer and New Innovator Awards Programs
NIH welcomes proposals for 2012 NIH Director's Pioneer Awards and New Innovator Awards for innovative approaches to major challenges in biomedical or behavioral research.
NIH expects to make at least 7 Pioneer Awards and at least 33 New Innovator Awards in summer 2012. To continue its strong record of diversity in these programs, NIH especially encourages women and members of groups that are underrepresented in NIH research to apply.
Release Date for Pioneer Award Program: August 5, 2011; Expiration Date: October 8, 2011
Release Date for New Innovator Award Program: August 10, 2011; Expiration Date: October 15, 2011
Molecular Libraries Program
NIH is on track to make freely available to researchers the results of 300 high-throughput screening (HTS) assays, screened against a library of 300,000 unique compounds through the Molecular Libraries Program (MLP) website and PubChem, along with detailed information on the probes developed through the screening process. Researchers will be able to use these optimized assays and small molecules probes to investigate a variety of diseases and conditions. As of September 2011, the MLP has selected 647 HTS assays for entry into the MLPCN production pipeline. The HTS assay campaigns undertaken to date have led to more than 264 chemistry projects and generated 233 small molecule probes. The probe portfolio represents a wide range of biology related to various disease areas: cancer; allergy and infectious diseases; neuroscience; general medical sciences; diabetes, metabolic or endocrine diseases; heart, lung, or blood disease; and other disease areas.
Some small molecule probes discovered by the MLP have advanced into early stage drug development using other sources of funding, including the NIH Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network (BPN). The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research established the BPN in 2011 in response to the paucity of effective treatments for disorders of the nervous system. This program intends to develop drugs successfully through Phase I and leverage industry partnerships for their further development. The long-term goal of the BPN is to produce at least one novel and effective medication for a disorder of the nervous system that is currently poorly treated or untreatable.
In the announcement noted below, the MLP continues to encourage HTS assay applications from investigators who have the interest and capability to work with the Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN) for chemical probe development.
Release Date: March 12, 2009; Expiration Date: January 5, 2012
Library of Integrated Network-Based Cellular Signatures (LINCS)
The LINCS program supports the high-throughput collection and integrative computational analyses of informative molecular and cellular signatures generated in response to a variety of perturbing agents through two pilot centers (U54) located in Boston (Broad Institute and Harvard University). Two supplements were recently awarded to active NIH grants in an effort to infuse additional expertise and interests to the LINCS program, while bringing the LINCS resources and approaches to independent research groups. In addition, NIH is reviewing applications in response to FOAs aimed at enhancing the capabilities of the LINCS effort by building informatics and data analyses tools and novel technologies. A fall consortium meeting is planned to bring together the U54, U01 and supplement awardees in coordinating activities for the final two years of this pilot program.
Single Cell Analysis
NIMH is working with the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) to coordinate a new Common Fund program dedicated to Single Cell Analysis. Many biological experiments are performed on groups of cells, under the assumption that all cells of a particular “type” are identical. However, recent evidence reveals that significant heterogeneity exists among individual cells within a population, and these differences can have important consequences for the health and function of the entire population. Experimental approaches that only examine population-level characteristics can obscure these crucial differences. New approaches to single cell analyses are needed to uncover fundamental biological principles and ultimately improve the detection and treatment of disease. Significant challenges currently exist with regard to systematically describing the “state” of a cell, defining normal cell-to-cell variation, measuring the impact of environmental perturbations, understanding cellular responses in the larger context of tissues and networks, and overcoming limitations in measurement approaches. This program seeks to overcome obstacles by supporting the development of innovative tools and analytical approaches and by accelerating the translation and uptake of single cell technology from the bench to the clinic.
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.
NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research Grand Challenge: Developing Novel Drugs for Disorders of the Nervous System
NIH announces a unique opportunity for investigators working with small molecule compounds to gain access to a robust ‘virtual pharma’ drug development network to develop neurotherapeutic drugs. Successful applicants to this FOA will become collaborative participants in this network, receiving both funding and no-cost access to contracted drug development services that are not typically available to the academic research community. Funding will be provided through a U01 cooperative agreement mechanism to conduct biological testing of compound analogs in disease assays and models in the investigator’s laboratory. No-cost drug development services will also be provided, including medicinal chemistry optimization, Investigational New Drug (IND)-directed pharmacology and toxicology, and Phase I clinical testing. Researchers in possession of disease assays and small molecule compounds that show promise for treating nervous system and psychiatric disorders, but that are not yet suitable for clinical testing, are strongly encouraged to apply.
Release Date: March 16, 2011; Expiration Date: December 16, 2011
Innovative Neuroscience K-12 Education
This initiative encourages Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications to develop innovative neuroscience educational tools to be used by or benefit children in kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12). Educational tools can be designed using any media (e.g., paper, electronic, etc.) or format (e.g., simulations, games, videos, notebooks, etc.) for use in or out of school settings, targeting children in groups or alone, with or without adult or teacher participation. Innovative neuroscience educational tools should promote neuroscience knowledge acquisition and application of that knowledge to one’s own life, promote an interest in neuroscience learning and careers, and present a positive and realistic representation of the diversity of people who engage in neuroscience-related research and occupations. Educational tools targeted to increase the diversity of students (i.e., Native American, Black, Hispanic, female, disabled, or otherwise underrepresented) pursuing neuroscience learning are especially encouraged.
Release Date: March 25, 2010; Expiration Date: April 5, 2012
III. Future Research Directions
Concept Clearances for Potential New Research Initiatives: Public-Venue–Approved Concept Clearances
This listing of potential future initiatives is meant to provide the earliest possible alert to the field of our research interests and of potential upcoming announcements to solicit that research. While NIMH plans to proceed with these initiatives, their publication and timing are not certain and depend on sufficient funding. The titles and brief descriptions are consistent with the information available at the time of concept clearance. The resultant FOAs may differ from the concepts in the final wording of their titles or other aspects. To send questions about a specific concept, follow the “Submit Comments” link at the bottom of the description.
Summaries 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.
IV. Update on Electronic Submission of Grant Applications
For more information on all these updates, please see the NIH eRA Submission Items of Interest page.
Expired Central Contractor Registry (CCR) Registrations:
Email Notification Changes:
V. Research Training and Career Development
NIMH supports a number of institutional and individual programs that provide research training and mentored career development. While many investigators are familiar with the institutional training (T32), research education (R25), individual fellowship (F), and mentored career development (K) programs, NIMH also supports other initiatives, at various career stages, which are designed to increase the pipeline of future NIMH investigators. Did you know…?
Investigators interested in submitting an application for any of these programs are encouraged to contact the program official named in each funding opportunity.
We’re interested in feedback from the community; comments or suggestions related to NIMH’s support for research training and career development may be directed to NIMH_Training@mail.nih.gov.
VI. Recent NIMH Science News
The latest news and updates from NIMH-supported research:
Publicizing NIMH research is a communal responsibility—we need your help! Please help us spread the word about the results of NIMH funding by acknowledging our support of your research, for example, in journal articles (citing your NIMH award by number when possible) and other communications. NIMH has two primary methods of getting the word out: press releases and science updates. All releases and updates are posted to the Science News section of the NIMH Website. 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.
VII. 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 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.
Check us out!