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2012 Spring Inside NIMH

Welcome to the latest edition of Inside NIMH. 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.

Sincerely,

Thomas R. Insel, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Mental Health

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I. Message from the NIMH Director

With fiscal year (FY) 2012 well underway, I would like to update you on a variety of matters related to the NIMH budget, and new activities and plans for the Institute.

Budget Overview

NIMH continues to be on track to award over 500 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2012. Achieving this goal would represent a significant increase over the 465 awarded in FY 2011, but would still fall below the 2008-2010 average of 558. NIMH expects to support at least 75 percent of the applications up to the 20th percentile. Moreover, the Institute will support sufficient applications from early stage investigators to ensure their success rate is equivalent to that of established investigators. With the exception of specific programmatic adjustments, modular and non-modular grant awards will be fully funded in FY 2012, without future-year inflationary increases. NIMH is placing increased emphasis on funding grants with limited out-year commitments, such as administrative supplements. Consistent with NIH policy, non-competing modular RPGs are being issued at full commitment levels, while non-competing, non-modular RPGs are being issued at FY 2011 levels, without future-year inflationary increases.

Concerning FY 2011, we conducted an analysis of funding data for that fiscal year’s DP2, R01, and R37 Type 1 awards. As you can see in Figure 1 below, which tracks the distribution of established investigator applications and awards by percentile scoring, NIMH funded 96 percent of all applications within the 10th percentile, and 52 percent of applications falling between the 11th and 20th percentiles, resulting in an overall NIMH success rate of 17 percent for the year.

 

Applications/Awards versus percentile in fiscal year 2011 for DP2, R01, and R37 (Type 1) grants for established investigators. The pattern for the following data is percentile [number of applications:number of awards]. 1st [9:9]; 2nd [5:4]; 3rd [8:8]; 4th [7:6]; 5th [4:4]; 6th [13:13]; 7th [9:9]; 8th [11:10]; 9th [5:5]; 10th [9:9]; 11th [1:1]; 12th [9:8]; 13th [8:4]; 14th [2:1]; 15th [6:4]; 16th [3:2]; 17th [4:2]; 18th [9:2]; 19th [3:0]; 20th [7:3]; 21st [13:2]; 22nd [9:1]; 23rd [9:2]; 24th [3:0]; 25th [7:0]; 26th [4:0].

With respect to early stage investigators, as indicated in Figure 2, NIMH funded 100 percent of all applications within the 10th percentile, and 64 percent of applications falling between the 11th and 20th percentile resulting in an overall NIMH success rate of 18 percent.

 

Applications/Awards versus percentile in fiscal year 2011 for DP2, R01, and R37 (Type 1) grants for early stage investigators. The pattern for the following data is percentile [number of applications:number of awards]. 2nd [1:1]; 3rd [1:1]; 4th [4:4]; 6th [2:2]; 8th [1:1]; 9th [4:4]; 11th [3:3]; 12th [2:2]; 13th [1:1]; 14th [3:3]; 15th [4:3]; 16th [2:1]; 17th [1:0]; 18th [7:2]; 19th [1:0]; 20th [1:1]; 21st [2:1]; 22nd [3:0]; 23rd [4:0]; 24th [2:0]; 25th [2:1]; 26th [3:0].

Outlook for FY 2013

In February 2012, the President submitted his FY 2013 budget request to Congress. The request for the NIH is $30.860 billion, the same overall level as FY 2012. The request for NIMH is $1.479 billion, less than a 0.1 percent increase over the 2012 level. The President’s Budget (PB) stands in contrast to the Budget Control Act of 2011, which, through its spending limits and sequestration — which would take effect if Congress fails to come up with $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years by January 2013 — would result in an approximately 8 percent reduction to the FY 2013 NIH budget from FY 2011 levels. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees that oversee NIH have held hearings regarding the FY 2013 PB. It is unclear when the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill, which contains the NIH appropriation, will be introduced, and when the Subcommittees which oversee the NIH budget will convene to discuss it. Based on historical trends, it is likely that NIMH will begin FY 2013 on a Continuing Resolution.

New and Notable

I would like to call special attention to our most recent NIMH Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) award recipients:

  • Robert Edwards, MD (University of California, San Francisco) is conducting innovative, multidisciplinary research examining the physiological processes regulating the transport and packaging of neurotransmitters into synaptic vesicles, with a focus on the roles of proton and chloride gradients in regulating the vesicular glutamate transporter.
  • Todd Sacktor, MD (SUNY Downstate Medical Center) in investigating the persistent action of a protein kinase, called PKM6, which has been found to be one potential mechanism for maintaining memory. He aims to characterize the functional mechanisms by which PKM maintains long-term information at synapses and during behavioral memory storage.
  • Peter Holland, PhD (Johns Hopkins University) has received a MERIT award extension to expand his research on aspects of amygdala system function that affect associative learning, to focus on the interface of learning, memory, and attention. He is investigating how violations of learned outcome expectancies can enhance attention to the events present at the time of surprise, such that those events may more readily enter into new associations in the future.
  • Roger Nicoll, MD (University of California, San Francisco) has also received an extension of his MERIT award to continue long-standing work to elucidate the underlying molecular principles that govern the assembly of the postsynaptic component of a synapse.

In addition, here is a selection of the Institute’s most recently funded projects that exemplify our efforts to advance the NIMH Strategic Plan:

  • Colleen Barry, PhD (Johns Hopkins University) is studying the effects of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity (MHPAE) Act, passed by Congress in 2010, on: 1) total mental health spending and out-of-pocket mental health spending; 2) the probability of mental health service use, and the quantity and price of mental health treatments and; 3) use, spending and the mix of providers accessed out-of-network. Results from this research could provide critical information to inform implementation of the MHPAE Act as well as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
  • As an illustration of NIMH’s ongoing commitment to basic neuroscience, Richard Goodman, MD, PhD (Oregon Health and Science University) is examining how microRNAs contribute to the disease processes underlying multiple neurological and psychiatric conditions, focusing on how a microRNA regulated by synaptic activity directs neuronal growth, function, and behavior. Using an innovative approach, Dr. Goodman will scrutinize microRNA activity upstream of the expression of genes involved in cell cycle regulation and neuronal maturation.
  • Alexander Neumeister, MD (New York University School of Medicine) is investigating the functions of two major stress-response systems, the kappa opioid receptor system and glucocorticoids, in order to provide novel insights into the underlying causes of brain circuit dysfunction related to PTSD, depression, and other stress-related disorders. He aims to develop a translational model of adaptive and maladaptive responses to major stressors associated with trauma, which would in turn guide development of treatments for patients with PTSD and depression.

For more information on these and other grants selected for funding, please visit the NIH RePORTER website .

Challenge Prize on the Horizon

The National Database for Autism Research  (NDAR) now provides researchers access to clinical assessments, demographic information, environmental information, imaging studies and genetic/sequencing data from more than 25,000 subjects. NDAR integrates and standardizes data, tools, and computational techniques from a wide variety of individual researchers as well as public and private databases. Through NDAR, researchers can access results from these different sources at the same time, using the rich data set to conduct independent analyses, supplement their own research data, or evaluate the data supporting published journal articles, among many other uses. As the amount of available data continues to grow apace, NDAR is planning an initiative to encourage the creative use of the database, potentially through use of a Challenge Prize . The NDAR team anticipates that this prize will bring insights and stimulate new research directions from computational scientists and others who have not previously participated in autism research. See the Concept Clearances section below for more information.

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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

Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health: Integrating Mental Health into Chronic Disease Care Provision in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

This FOA seeks research project grant (R01) applications that promote the establishment of an evidence base on contextually relevant, cost-effective integrated care interventions for the treatment of patients with co-morbid mental and chronic physical illnesses in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Specifically, this FOA will support research that builds on existing chronic disease care and treatment platforms to incorporate management of mental illness, employs a multi-disease care management approach with potentially high impact for improving patient- and system-level outcomes (e.g., patient morbidity and functioning; improved diagnosis of mental illness among patients with chronic medical illnesses; decreased cost to the health care system; improved care coordination), and establishes feasible methods for multi-disease management in LMICs.

Release Date: February 3, 2012; Expiration Date: June 21, 2012

Harnessing Advanced Health Technologies to Drive Mental Health Improvement

The purpose of this FOA is to test the innovative use of existing technologies to significantly improve access to and quality of mental health care, and to propose the collection and use of actionable mental health information to improve outcomes of people with mental disorders.

Release Date: March 2, 2012; Expiration Date: June 23, 2012

Eradication of HIV-1 from CNS Reservoirs: Implications for Therapeutics

NIMH and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) invite novel research grant applications to address the problem of HIV-1 persistence focused solely on the central nervous system (CNS) of HIV-infected persons treated with Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART). This FOA will support highly innovative research in five areas: (1) basic research to identify and characterize CNS-based cellular reservoirs of HIV-1 for individuals on HAART; (2) basic research to determine the mechanisms involved in the temporal establishment, maintenance, and resurgence of CNS-based HIV-1 reservoirs in relationship to the effects and timing of HAART, viral expression, and viral evolution within the brain; (3) development of physiologically relevant animal models and CNS-based cellular assays that recapitulate HIV-1 persistence and latency in the presence of effective HAART; (4) drug screening of potential agents which traverse the blood-brain barrier and eliminate latent or other sources of residual virus in the CNS; and (5) design of therapeutic strategies aimed at eradication of HIV-1 from the CNS. Applications ranging from basic to translational research in domestic and international settings are of interest. Multidisciplinary research teams are encouraged but not required.

Release Date: February 17, 2012; Expiration Date: September 13, 2012

NIMH-Collaborative Requests for Applications

U.S.-China Program for Biomedical Collaborative Research

The purpose of the U.S.-China Program for Biomedical Collaborative Research is to stimulate collaborative basic, translational, and applied research between United States (U.S.)-based researchers and Chinese researchers in the areas of allergy, immunology, and infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and its co-morbidities and co-infections, cancer, mental health, Parkinson’s disease (PD), and stroke.

Release Date: April 4, 2012; Expiration Date: September 19, 2012

Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Vaccines to Prevent HIV infection

The purpose of this FOA is to solicit applications for the Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Vaccines to Prevent HIV Infection.

Release Date: January 27, 2012; Expiration Date: September 29, 2012

Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Integrated Strategies to Prevent HIV Infection

The purpose of this FOA is to solicit applications for the Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Integrated Strategies to Prevent HIV Infection.

Release Date: January 27, 2012; Expiration Date: September 29, 2012

Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Microbicides to Prevent HIV Infection

The purpose of this FOA is to solicit applications for the Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Microbicides to Prevent HIV Infection.

Release Date: January 27, 2012; Expiration Date: September 29, 2012

Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Therapeutics for HIV/AIDS and HIV-associated Infections in Adults

The purpose of this FOA is to encourage applications for the Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Therapeutics for HIV/AIDS and HIV-associated Infections in Adults.

Release Date: January 27, 2012; Expiration Date: September 29, 2012

Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on HIV/AIDS and HIV-associated Infections in Pediatric and Maternal Populations

The purpose of this FOA is to solicit applications for the Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on HIV/AIDS and HIV-associated Infections in Pediatric and Maternal Populations.

Release Date: January 27, 2012; Expiration Date: September 29, 2012

Development and Translation of Medical Technologies to Reduce Health Disparities

This FOA encourages Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications from small business concerns (SBCs) that propose to develop and translate medical technologies aimed at reducing disparities in healthcare access and health outcomes. Appropriate medical technologies should be effective, affordable, culturally acceptable, and deliverable to those who need them. Responsive grant applications must involve a formal collaboration with a healthcare provider or other healthcare organization serving a health disparity population during Phase I and Phase II.

Release Date: March 9, 2012; Expiration Date: January 08, 2013

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: Discovering 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’ network to discover neurotherapeutic drugs. Successful applicants to this FOA will become collaborative participants in this network, receiving both funding and no-cost access to contracted drug discovery 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 discovery services will also be provided, including medicinal chemistry optimization, 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: February 21, 2012; Expiration Date: October 09, 2012

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III. Future Research Directions

Concept Clearances for Potential New Research Initiatives

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.

Related Information

Summary of NIMH-Sponsored Scientific Meeting

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. For additional announcements, summaries, agendas, and participant lists from past NIMH-sponsored meetings, conferences, workshops, and lectures, please visit the Scientific Meetings page.

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IV. Update on Research Administration (eRA) Activities

For more information on all these updates, please see the NIH eRA News and Events page .

eRA Commons Updates

New features

  • The Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) — The current NIH progress reports will be transitioning to the federal-wide RPPR, which was sparked by a federal mandate to create a progress report in a standard format across federal agencies so that recipient reporting is standardized. The RPPR begins as a limited pilot, with seven institutions volunteering to test the procedures. We anticipate a wider pilot over the summer and going to full production in 2013. RPPR will replace the PHS 2590 Non-competing Continuation Progress report, the eSNAP module in the eRA Commons and the PHS416-9 NRSA Individual Fellowships Progress Report for Continuation Support. Additional information on this transition to RPPR can be found on the Research Performance Progress Report Web page  and NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-12-083 .
  • Electronic submission of Change of Institution (Type 7) applications — The pilot testing of this program allows an institution to request electronically the turnover of an active grant to another institution. It is an open pilot, meaning that you have the choice to use the electronic process or the traditional paper process. There are two parts to the Change of Institution submission. The institution holding the grant must complete a Relinquishing Statement through eRA Commons that states it is giving up the grant and identifies the receiving institution. The receiving institution must submit an application via Grants.gov using the Parent Funding Opportunity Announcement . Please look for an NIH Guide Notice for further implementation and guidance on this process.
  • Electronic submission of Change of Name/Successor-in-Interest (Type 6) Applications — Also in an open pilot, this process is similar to Change of Institution (Type 7) Applications. It applies in cases where an organization is taken over by another organization through a merger or corporate change. Please look for an NIH Guide Notice on further implementation of this electronic process.

New Fixes

  • Various fixes have been completed for the Administrative Supplement (Type 3) system, which is currently in open pilot.
  • A fix for users experiencing difficulties in adding the role type of “Other” to the All Personnel section of the eSNAP has also been completed.

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V. 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 a mailing list .

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.

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VI. Connect with NIMH

Our newest effort to reach our stakeholders is a service that allows you to subscribe for updates  sent directly to your email inbox on the NIMH topics of your choice. In addition to our email newsletters and RSS updates, NIMH offers audio segments and videos about mental health topics, and has its own YouTube channel . 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!

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