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NAMHC Minutes of the 258th Meeting

February 4, 2020

Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Advisory Mental Health Council


The National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) held its 258th meeting at 9:30 am, February 4, 2020 at the Neuroscience Center in Rockville, Maryland. In accordance with Public Law 92-463, the session was open to the public until approximately 11:50 am, and closed thereafter from 12:45 pm for consideration of grant applications. Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), presided as Chair.


Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.

Executive Secretary

Jean Noronha, Ph.D.

Council/Ad Hoc Members Present

  • Laura Almasy, Ph.D.
  • Marjorie Baldwin, Ph.D.
  • Tami Benton, M.D.
  • Randy Blakely, Ph.D.
  • David Goldstein, Ph.D. (Pending Ad Hoc)
  • Ian Gotlib, Ph.D.
  • Alan Greenberg, M.D., M.P.H.
  • David Henderson, M.D.
  • Kamilah Jackson, M.D. (Pending Ad Hoc)
  • Lisa Jaycox, Ph.D.
  • Cheryl King, Ph.D.
  • Gregory Miller, Ph.D.
  • Yael Niv, Ph.D.
  • Neil Risch, Ph.D.
  • Elyn Saks, Ph.D.
  • Brandon Staglin, M.S.
  • Joseph Telfair, DrPH, M.P.H, M.S.W, FRSPH (Pending Ad Hoc)
  • Sophia Vinogradov, M.D.
  • Christopher Walsh, M.D.
  • Hongkui Zeng, Ph.D. (Pending Ad Hoc)

Department of Veteran Affairs

  • Amy Kilbourne, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Defense (Ex Officio Member)

  • Captain Michael Colston, M.D..

Liaison Representative

  • Justine Larson, M.D. (representing Anita Everett, M.D.)

Others Present at the Open Policy Session (Others Roster)

Open Policy Session Call to Order & Opening Remarks

Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.

NIMH Director, Dr. Joshua Gordon, opened the NAMHC meeting by welcoming Current Council Members, the public, and four new Ad Hoc Members. Following introductions, the Council unanimously passed a motion approving the final Summary Minutes of the September 19, 2019 meeting.

NIMH Director’s Report

Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.

Congressional Interactions and Stakeholder Engagement

Dr. Gordon provided an update of recent NIMH congressional activities. In October, NIMH presented at the second annual Advancing Mental Health Policy Forum , which was attended by Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman, John Katko, and Grace Napolitano—who have been very active in mental health policy issues. In November, at the invitation of Representative David Trone, Dr. Gordon moderated a roundtable discussion of the urgent mental health needs of first responders. Dr. Gordon also attended the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention  Executive Committee meeting in the fall to present on recent NIMH research findings in suicide prevention and efforts towards moving research into practice. He remarked on their enthusiasm for suicide prevention objectives within the NIMH Strategic Plan. 

In September, Dr. Gordon and NIMH Deputy Director Dr. Shelli Avenevoli participated in the White House Summit on Veteran Suicide , which focused on the theme “Translating Research Innovation into Public Health Solutions,” and will result in a white paper to guide implementation of the research strategy portion of the Executive Order on a National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Suicide . Dr. Gordon emphasized the importance of considering current suicide prevention efforts across national partnerships, and thanked NIMH staff, Dr. Avenevoli, Dr. Jane Pearson and the NIMH Suicide Prevention Research Team, for their ongoing work. 

Dr. Gordon noted the testimony of National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Dr. Collins and other NIH leaders addressed the Institutes' ongoing research, impact, and investment needed to sustain such efforts.

Appropriations and NIMH Budget Update

Dr. Gordon provided a budget update, expressing the enthusiasm from NIMH on the two minibus appropriation bills, including $41.7 billion for NIH and a direct $2.038 billion for NIMH—both of which are increased from fiscal year 2019. This will be the first time that the total NIMH budget will exceed $2 billion. These bills direct funding specifically towards research on gun violence, antimicrobial resistance, and increased support for NIH Innovation Projects. 

Dr. Gordon reviewed the status of NIMH grant funding. In 2019, NIMH funded 653 new and competing research project grants, representing a success rate of approximately 25%. NIMH aimed to support as many early stage investigator grants as possible and will continue to do so this year.

NIMH Strategic Plan for Research

Dr. Gordon provided a progress update on the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research, which will be a living document available on the NIMH website. Since the last NAMHC meeting, NIMH published a draft of the Strategic Plan and released a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit feedback from the public. The deadline of the RFI was extended to January 15, 2020 and NIMH received over 6,000 responses. NIMH will analyze the full results of the RFI, and Dr. Gordon will present those results and the final Strategic Plan at the next NAMHC meeting. 

Dr. Gordon provided a brief review of some of the revisions made to the Strategic Plan based on Council’s feedback at the September NAMHC meeting. Under Goal 1: Define the Brain Mechanisms Underlying Complex Behaviors, NIMH added content to expand the role of genetic and non-genetic factors involved in the origin of mental illness. Under Goal 2: Examine Mental Illness Trajectories Across the Lifespan, NIMH changed a title word from “Charting” to “Examine” to reflect the objective to understand the trajectories and not only describe them. They also expanded content to include both risk and resilience as important components of mental illness trajectories. They added an interest area that aims to harness modern computational approaches to define and refine biomarkers and clinical interventions. Under Goal 3: Strive for Prevention and Cures, NIMH expanded on the discussion of risk prevention and resilience protection and added an interest area to support practice-based research towards the implementation of preventative interventions. Under Goal 4: Strengthen the Public Health Impact of NIMH-Supported Research, NIMH added language on the importance of including cost effectiveness studies and emphasized research for underrepresented and underserved communities.

NIMH News to Know

Dr. Gordon reviewed notable news items from NIMH and introduced the subject of diversity in research, highlighting that it is a NIMH priority to promote equity in the research workforce. In order to identify any gaps and to address areas for improvement, a recent NIMH Principal Investigator Diversity Analysis report compared demographic data for NIMH application counts and funding rates between 2008 and 2018. Dr. Gordon clarified that application rate in this report represents each iteration of an application—whether it is the initial application or a revised submission. The report found a disparity across genders. Recent years have trended towards a narrowing of this gender gap, which Dr. Gordon hopes will continue until the gap is closed. 

In the analysis of race/ethnicity equity, the report showed that, compared to White applicants, Black applicants had lower success rates, Asian applicants had slightly lower success rates, and “Other” applicants (including individuals of mixed race) had similar success rates. Hispanic applicants had lower success rates than White, non-Hispanic applicants, although the disparity was smaller than the gap between Black and White applicants. The data suggests that part, but not all, of the disparity could be related to topic choice, and NIMH will be analyzing the data further. These data do not include any training grant awards, and that analysis also will be conducted in the future. 

Dr. Gordon discussed efforts to promote diversity within the research pipeline. NIMH supplements investigators who hire a research trainee or technician from an underrepresented group. NIMH also sponsors pre- and post-doctoral awards that specifically target underrepresented groups. Dr. Gordon provided an overview of the Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (ENDURE ) program, which aims to enhance diversity at early stages of the career. NIMH has also re-opened support for conference grants, including a mentorship component, targeted toward diverse candidates. NIH-wide, the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC ) program provides training and mentorship to applicants from diverse backgrounds, and the Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST ) program provides grants to academic institutions to develop cohort programs to increase diversity on their campuses.

Dr. Gordon encouraged the Council to review two Director’s Messages on the subject of animal neurobehavioral approaches in research—What Can Animals Tell Us About Mental Illness and A Hypothesis-Based Approach: The Use of Animals in Mental Health Research, as well as a formal notice . NIMH grant applicants are encouraged to reach out to NIMH program staff to consider how they can best use animal models in the study of psychiatric illness. 

Dr. Gordon provided an update on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee  (IACC). The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act  was renewed on September 30, 2019 and with that renewal, a new iteration of the Committee will be created. A call for nominations was sent out and will close on February 21, 2020.

Dr. Gordon briefed the Council on staff and leadership news. Dr. Thomas Lehner has transitioned from the Director of the Office of Genomics Research Coordination to a position as the Scientific Director of Neuropsychiatric Disease Genomics at the New York Genome Center. Dr. Anjené Addington, the Branch Chief for Genomics within the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, has also departed. Dr. Beverly Pringle retired from Director of the Center for Global Mental Health Research to transition to the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. Dr. Nitin Gogtay transitioned from Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Office of Clinical Research to Scientific Director at the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Gordon indicated that NIMH is actively recruiting for these positions and encourages individuals in these fields to apply to help NIMH stay in the forefront. Finally, NIMH is proud to announce that Dr. Susan Amara, the Scientific Director of NIMH Intramural Research Programs, will serve as the President-Elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Dr. Gordon announced honors and awards to multiple NIMH intramural investigators, including three who were honored as NIH Distinguished Investigators: Dr. Carlos Zarate, Dr. Kathleen Merikangas, and Dr. Daniel Pine. 

Dr. Gordon also announced changes in NIH leadership, including that Dr. Martha Somerman, Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, has retired, and that Dr. Ned Sharpless has returned to resume leadership of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Joshua Denny will join as Chief Executive Officer of the All of Us program, and Dr. John Ngai will be the new Director of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN ) Initiative.

NIH Policies and Progress

Dr. Gordon reviewed the NIH Anti-Harassment Policy and Guidance , reiterating that NIH does not tolerate harassment of any kind, either within NIH or at research organizations that are funded by NIH. Dr. Collins convened a harassment working group, which produced a report  with recommendations to revise and refine current NIH policy. Dr. Gordon discussed a specific NIH requirement to immediately respond to a report that an NIH-supported researcher has carried out harassment; this response may include withdrawing the researcher’s grants and banning the researcher from applying for a certain period of time.

NIH-Wide Initiatives

Dr. Gordon stated that the final reports from the BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0 were released: From Cells to Circuits, Towards Cures  and The BRAIN Initiative Neuroethics Subgroup . NIH will fund the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative  with $945 million towards research to address the opioid crisis, with a focus on the intersection of opioid use disorder and mental health. Additionally, NIH launched a new collaboration with the Gates Foundation to develop gene-based cures for HIV within the next ten years. 

Dr. Gordon provided preliminary findings from the All of Us  Research Program cohort on mental health diagnoses. Preliminary findings were summarized, demonstrating promise towards future outreach efforts and collaborations for the All of Us Research Program.

Science Highlights

Dr. Gordon concluded his report by briefly discussing two NIMH-funded studies. The first study published in Nature Neuroscience used high resolution imaging techniques to examine working memory, which was remarkable for its technical approach for differentiating working memory activity within superficial and deep cortices, as well as for its theoretical translation from animal models. Dr. Gordon also reviewed a study published in Biological Psychiatry that looked at neurobiological markers of resilience to depression, looking at multiple factors to identify what affects the developing brain and how that affects neuropsychiatric outcomes. The study is exemplary for several reasons—it is a longitudinal study, it focused on a developmental period of risk in adolescents, and it used theory to understand the underlying behavioral and neurobiological constructs of risk.


Dr. Joseph Telfair asked about the approach for including practice-based research in the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research. Dr. Gordon answered that the Strategic Plan is high-level and does not include that specific detail, and that it generally extends research in both directions—using data that has been created in healthcare systems, such as with community-based partnerships between clinics, to learn more about both mental illness and patients. Capt. Michael Colston asked about the timeline and the use of previous efforts towards creating a research strategy that incorporates public comment. Dr. Gordon said that NIMH has considered and built off previous efforts, such as the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Research Strategy. 

Capt. Colston asked why 2008 was chosen as the initial year for the NIH diversity report. Dr. Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Director of the Office of Workforce Diversity and Health Disparities, answered that 2018 had the most recent robust data to analyze, and using 2008 data allowed NIMH to conduct a ten-year analysis. Capt. Colston commended NIMH for choosing 2008, considering that a five-year analysis may have looked more positive in terms of the gender gap. Dr. Randy Blakely asked for a comment about racial disparities at the review level in the application process. Dr. Gordon said that the data do not include grants that were not funded, and that the analyses are predominantly based on review scores. Part of the variance is due to topic area, but there is unexplained variance that requires further analysis. Dr. Marjorie Baldwin suggested that the data are not sufficient to determine discrimination in funding, if there are other factors involved in disparities. She asked if there was an effort to analyze the track record or university of the applicant. Dr. Gordon said that there was a factor analysis that included such variables and that individual characteristics do play an important role. 

Mr. Brandon Staglin asked, with regard to funding disparities due to topic choice, if NIMH considered the personal interests of the researchers in different communities and ethnicities. Dr. Gordon said that NIMH is actively considering if funding priorities are appropriate or not, and hopes to report on the issue at the next Council meeting. Dr. Lisa Jaycox asked for more clarification about the differences in topic areas. Dr. Gordon said that the analysis was based on words in the grants and the findings were that Black and Hispanic applicants tend to apply for topics that are more clinical, implementation, and societal based rather than basic science areas. Dr. Jaycox added that the standards for community-based clinical trials have become more challenging, which might make it difficult for the applicants to get through review. Dr. Gordon responded that NIMH works to ensure rigorous science, but that the community research portfolio is being expanded. Dr. Sophia Vinogradov commented that NIMH may do a good job with career development awards, but without a senior mentoring group, junior investigators may not be adequately supported, especially when coming from underrepresented backgrounds. 

Dr. Yael Niv commented on the low percentage of Black researchers in the research workforce, and suggested that pipeline solutions were not available when those researchers were trained. Dr. Niv argued that the background of an individual is not necessarily a good representation of their ability and that their application may be underweighted due to fewer opportunities to start with. Dr. Gordon said that weighting is considered for early stage investigators, but that it is complicated because review panels are not given access to the demographics of the applicant. Dr. Jaycox asked if there could be funding opportunities exclusively for underrepresented early stage investigators, and Dr. Gordon replied that it was not allowed. Dr. Telfair suggested that the deep dive of individual characteristics be considered before making recommendations, and Dr. Gordon agreed and added that the effort to understand disparities is NIH-wide. Dr. Tami Benton commented that one challenge is retention, which could be related to mentorship issues, and efforts to incentivize mentorship to the next generation of minority researchers would be a good investment. Dr. Gordon said NIMH is discussing the area of mentorship towards diversifying the workforce, but welcomes more input. Dr. Alan Greenberg asked if other agencies were conducting similar analyses, and Dr. Gordon said that the National Science Foundation has, but he is unaware of any other efforts.

Protecting Human Subjects in NIMH Funded Research

Anna Ordóñez, M.D., M.A.S., Deputy Director, Office of Clinical Research, NIMH and Eugene I. Kane III. M.P.H., Office of Clinical Research, NIMH

Dr. Jean Noronha introduced Dr. Anna Ordóñez, Deputy Director of the Office of Clinical Research (OCR) to review human subjects protections in NIMH-funded research. Dr. Ordóñez introduced OCR, which was established in 2014 to consolidate and coordinate oversight of clinical research through two branches—the Clinical Trials Operations and Biostatistical branch and the Human Research Protection branch. OCR provides consultation and guidance to NIMH leadership and program officials, particularly with regard to human subjects protection and data and safety monitoring. Dr. Ordóñez reviewed NIH clinical trials policies and practices. One way OCR continues to support NIMH is with continued engagement through the entire lifecycle of a grant, providing clear milestones and advising on unanticipated problems or changes. Dr. Ordóñez also reviewed the ways in which OCR collaborates with NIMH program officers and grants management staff. 

OCR monitors and coordinates five NIMH data and safety monitoring boards. The Clinical Trials Biostatistics branch provides operational support from developing research protocols through completion of the study recruitment. Every clinical trial that includes 150 or more participants is required to report their recruitment status in the Recruitment Monitoring and Reporting system. The NIMH Clinical Research Education Support and Training (CREST) program provides additional support across grant lifecycle to ensure study validity and integrity, participant protection, accurate and complete study data, and compliance with Good Clinical Practices.


Dr. Telfair asked if OCR collaborates with other Institutes or partners, and Dr. Ordóñez confirmed that the OCR does have active collaborations across different committees and federal agencies.

Concept Clearances

Dr. Noronha introduced the two types of Concept Clearance reviews—a full review of concepts that may develop into initiatives, and a brief review of concepts that have been cleared previously. 

HEAL Supplements to Improve the Treatment and Management of Common Co-Occurring Conditions and Suicide Risk in People Affected by the Opioid Crisis

Michael Freed, Ph.D., Division of Services and Intervention Research

Dr. Michael Freed presented the concept for competitive supplements to improve treatment and management of common co-occurring conditions and suicide risk in people affected by the opioid crisis. People affected by the opioid crisis also commonly struggle with other mental health conditions, and people with mental health issues are disproportionately prescribed opioids. This initiative has direct relevance to the federal appropriations targeting collaborative care for opioid use disorder and mental health care, and the HEAL Initiative objective to understand co-occurring conditions. Funding from this initiative may extend understanding of underlying mechanisms, evaluate approaches for improved treatment and access to care, and support the development of targeted interventions.


Dr. Jaycox supported the concept and its dual focus, suggesting that the subject is broad, and she could not determine topic priorities such as suicide risk. She also asked if diversity would be addressed within the topic areas. Dr. Freed answered that they do want to keep the area broad to include different focus areas within the larger study, and that he is open to inclusion of diversity. 

Dr. Amy Kilbourne added that she appreciated the emphasis on pain management in addition to opioid use disorder and encouraged additional thinking on pain management. She also suggested consideration for broad ways of providing treatment, for instance using other health personnel. 

Dr. Noronha called for a motion to approve the concept. A motion to approve was passed.

Optimizing Multi-component Service Delivery Interventions for People with Opioid Use Disorder, Co-occurring Conditions, and/or Suicide Risk (HEAL)

Michael Freed, Ph.D., Division of Services and Intervention Research

Dr. Freed reviewed an initiative for research to optimize multi-component service delivery interventions for people with opioid use disorder and co-occurring mental health conditions, including suicide risk. The goal of the initiative is to test the relative value of these component services interventions to inform implementation value and sequencing of these components within a service delivery package. Typically, when a multi-component intervention is studied, the primary outcome is the effectiveness of the intervention package, rather than the relative contributions of its components. The design of this initiative can inform decisions about specific components as well as the overall effectiveness of the service package.


Dr. Kilbourne commented that it is key to consider the underlying mechanisms. She also cautioned that applying standard clinical trial protocol to complicated implementation trials may look different from one setting to another, and that generalizability to different settings is something to consider. She also suggested considering a bolder approach with the types of interventions, for instance policy-level interventions such as Medicaid expansions. It is problematic when an intervention is not covered, and this could be a great way to bring it to the next level. 

Dr. Cheryl King supported the practice focus and relevance of this concept, as well as the emphasis on different scientific designs. She wondered about the focus on opioid use disorder and suggested the inclusion of multi-component interventions for those who are at risk for the disorder, as a more preventative angle. 

Capt. Colston added that multi-component implementation science is particularly beneficial for clinicians to focus and prioritize treatment, and that this is important work. 

Dr. Brandon Staglin asked if, given the complexity of a combined intervention, NIMH considered funding team-based grants for a site to test different combinations of components. Dr. Freed agreed that funding hospitals or research networks may be of benefit to the initiative. 

Dr. Noronha called for a motion to approve the concept. A motion to approve was passed.

Assessing Outcomes of Health System Suicide Risk Screening Programs

Michael Schoenbaum, Ph.D., NIMH Suicide Team

Dr. Michael Schoenbaum presented on the rising suicide rate and the NIMH objective to decrease it. He suggested that it is difficult to reduce suicide if you are unable to identify those at risk. Research shows that if you assess everyone who comes into the emergency department for suicide risk, you can double the number of identified at-risk individuals. Proactive assessment of suicide risk is not currently part of standardized screening. The goal of this concept is to learn from these findings by linking mortality, health outcomes, and suicide-related data from different health systems. This initiative may inform and expand care, and also support future suicide prevention research efforts.


Dr. King reiterated that it is feasible that universal or selective screening can identify previously unrecognized risk, but there is little known about the potential impact of that effort on patient outcomes, trajectory of healthcare utilization, and cost effectiveness. 

Dr. Jaycox agreed that health outcomes and cost data are important. She asked about including emerging risk factors such as gun ownership, veteran status, or wage status, which would help inform the data sources to link. Dr. Schoenbaum agreed and added that their objective is to utilize existing data sources. 

Dr. Benton suggested that the topic is timely because many hospitals are now required to identify risk for suicide, but it is expensive and difficult to measure outcomes. She appreciated the addition of morbidity as an outcome because mortality data is not enough to be informative towards prevention. 

Dr. Telfair asked about hesitation of the provider to comply with a requirement to assess risk when they do not have a solution for what to do next. Dr. Schoenbaum agreed that this is an issue and said that there is an open Request for Applications (RFA ) intended in part to address telehealth models of care to support the emergency department in managing at-risk patients. This initiative is a complement to that RFA. The hope is to learn from early adopted systems, to address the concerns identified, and to use data to answer them. 

Capt. Colston added that, although suicide is a rare event, it is still the number one cause of mortality across the Department of Defense (DoD) among young people. The number of suicide deaths among active-duty military service members today is approximately 25 per 100,000 as compared to 10.5 per 100,000 in 2000, suggesting that there is an underlying trend that still needs consideration. Dr. Schoenbaum reiterated that this effort is to learn as much as possible about patterns of care and that there are limitations to observational data. He suggested that since the DoD is an early adopter of screening, and the Department of Veteran Affairs a recent adopter of universal screening, the goal is to learn as much as possible from those experiences. 

Dr. King added that many things can happen after screening—the tools are not perfect, the individual may or may not get to care, and it is not clear if the treatment is effective. The goal will be to map healthcare utilization with outcomes. 

Dr. Benton suggested that it is still not clear what the at-risk populations are, for instance, having just identified Black youth as high risk. It is vital to gather as much data as possible about these populations. Dr. Schoenbaum agreed and said that this is why the analysis of early adopters of universal screening is critical. 

Dr. Noronha called for a motion to approve the concept. A motion to approve was passed.

Abbreviated Concept Clearances

  • BRAIN Initiative Fellows: Ruth L. Kirschstein, National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32), Ashlee Van’t Veer, Ph.D., Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science  
  • BRAIN Initiative: Standards to Define Experiments Related to the BRAIN Initiative, Greg Farber, Ph.D., Office of Technology Development and Coordination

Dr. Noronha briefly reviewed the two Abbreviated Concept Clearances, related to the BRAIN Initiative.


Dr. Blakely suggested including language about mentors not needing to have BRAIN Initiative funding. 

Dr. Noronha called for a motion to approve the concept. A motion to approve was passed.

Comments from Retiring Members

Tami D. Benton, M.D., Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
John H. Krystal, M.D., Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Translational Research Chair, Professor of Neurobiology, Chief of Psychiatry, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine
Christopher A. Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., Chief, Division of Genetics and Genomics, Boston Children’s Hospital, Bullard Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Gordon invited the three retiring Council members to provide any parting comments. 

Dr. Benton expressed her privilege and honor to work with colleagues on the Council. She is passionate about research with children, and hopes the NIMH continues its focus on children and on underserved populations. 

Dr. John Krystal thanked the Council members for their good work, and the NIMH staff for supporting the Council meetings and their stewardship of NIMH grants. He added that mental illness is one of the most significant challenges and that, although funding does not match this significance, this is still an exciting time for scientific advances in the field.

Dr. Christopher Wallace thanked the NIMH staff and Dr. Gordon for the privilege of working with this remarkable group and the opportunity to contribute to the important mission to advance science in mental health. He is especially appreciative of the effort to advance neuropsychiatric mechanisms. 

Dr. Gordon thanked the three retiring Council members.

Public Comment Period

Dr. Gordon invited the four registered public commenters to speak. 

Ms. Emily Trunnell of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was not available to provide an oral public comment, but had provided the Council with a written comment. 

Ms. Ania Sowinska, who has a son with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, was not available to provide a public comment, but had provided the Council with a written comment. 

Mr. Eric Scharf introduced himself as the Advocacy Advisor for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, which has a peer-focused mission to improve the lives of people living with mental disorders. He spoke to the Council about their effort to change the definition of “wellness” for people living with mood disorders to ensure that peer-desired outcomes are incorporated into care delivery. He also spoke of their collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and their work with stakeholders towards identifying measures of peer-identified outcomes. The Alliance looks forward to working with NIMH on these initiatives. Dr. Gordon added that his written testimony will be provided to the council members. 

Ms. Florence Fee is the Executive Director of No Health Without Mental Health, an advocacy group to bring mental health care into primary care. She spoke on behalf of five national behavioral health organizations to follow up on a letter to NIMH regarding public comments asking NIMH to allow more time for public comment. She asked the Council to consider how they could improve their outreach to stakeholders, suggesting regular meetings between NIMH and the public. 

Dr. Gordon thanked the public commenters for their input.


The open session of the NAMHC meeting adjourned at 12:03 p.m.

Closed Session

The grant application review portion of the meeting was closed to the public in accordance with provisions as set forth in Section 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)6. Title 5, U.S. Code and Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended. The closed session was set to resume at 12:45 pm.

Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Advisory Mental Health Council
Summary of 258th Meeting, February 4, 2020

Others present:

  • Jonelle Duke, Bizzell Group
  • Kekoa Erber, Association for Psychological Science
  • Florence Fee, No Health without Mental Health
  • Diana Felner, Tourette Association of America
  • Andrienne Griffen, Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance
  • Yari Jamali, Transcriber
  • Patricia Kobar, American Psychological Association
  • Catherine Krebs, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
  • Celeste Pleasant, Bizzell Group
  • Marie Rowland, Science Writer
  • Andrew Sperling, National Alliance on Mental Health
  • Aaron Walker, National Assoc. of State Mental Health Program Directors

Staff Present:

Lisa Alberts
Alexander Arguello
Ishmael Amarreh
Phyllis Ampofo
Paige Anderson
Shelli Avenevoli
Susan Azrin
Shaunna Bach
Anita Bechtholt
Andrea Beckel-Mitchener
Yvonne Bennett
Lora Bingaman
Yancy Bodenstein
Susan Borja
Linda Brady
Brian Brown
Bettina Buhring
Holly Campbell-Rosen
Monica Carter
Vin Charles
Zieta Charles
Mark Chavez
Jay Churchill
Rebecca Claycamp
Elan Cohen
Bruce Cuthbert
Debra Dabney
Alexander Denker
Jamie Driscoll
Tara Dutka
Jovier Evans
Greg Farber
Michele Ferrante
Meredith Fox
Michael Freed
Nick Gaiano
Marjorie Garvey
Karen Gavin-Evans

Lisa Gilotty
Nitin Gogtay
Margaret Grabb
Erin Gray
Greg Greenwood
Adam Haim
Wanda Harris-Lewis
Robert Heinssen
Samantha Helfert
Lauren Hill
Mi Hillefors
Meena Hiremath
Andrew Hooper
Andrea Horvath Marques
Cathleen Hsu
Shuang-Bao Hu
Ann Huston
Terri Jarosik
Tamara Johnson
Jeymohan Joseph
Denise Juliano-Bult
Setareh Kamali
Tamara Kees
Ashley Kennedy
Doug Kim
Megan Kinnane
Jewel Lankford
Sarah Lisanby
Nicole Martino
Julie Mason
David McMullen
Jennifer Mehren
Doug Meinecke
Dawn Morales
Sarah Morris
Laurie Nadler
Liz Necka
Anna Ordóñez

Heather Ovelmen
Jenni Pacheco
David Panchision
Jane Pearson
Michele Pearson
Dianne Rausch
Mary Rooney
Andrew Rossi
Laura Rowland
Geetha Senthil
Matthew Rudorfer
Chris Sarampote
Rachel Scheinert
Michael Schoenbaum
Aileen Schulte
Teri Senn
Pamela Shell
Joel Sherrill
Janine Simmons
Dawn Smith
Clare Stevens
Leandra Stubbs
Abhi Subedi
Brooke Sydnor
Alexander Talkovsky
Jeena Thomas
Ira Tigner, Jr.
Ashlee Van’t Veer
Aleksandra Vicentic
Becky Wagenaar-Miller
Ann Wagner
Susan Wetherby
Makeda Williams
Lois Winsky
Abera Wouhib
Andrea Wijtenburg
Yong Yao
Natalie Zeigler