I am delighted to accept From Discovery to Cure: Accelerating the Development of New and Personalized Interventions for Mental Illnesses on behalf of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). I am grateful to the members of the National Advisory Mental Health Council and its Workgroup on Interventions Development for their vision in charting an action plan to speed the development of new interventions for those living with mental illnesses.
In accepting this report, we at NIMH also accept its weighty challenge: making difficult decisions about basic and translational research investments. The challenge is to move forward in developing far more effective strategies for prevention and treatment in a rational way, and to do so with a limited budget. This report advises us to develop new interventions based on an emerging understanding of pathophysiology. While previous Council reports have encouraged the dissemination of existing treatments, this report emphasizes a strategic focus on harnessing discoveries in genetics and neuroscience to develop innovative interventions for those who desperately need them: transforming scientific breakthroughs into breakthroughs for people with mental disorders.
Not only does this report call for preemptive and personalized treatments, it recommends new approaches to science, with shared efforts among our many stakeholders. For instance, the report calls on NIH, patients, and academic scientists to work together to build and share resources such as standardized assessments, large cohorts, and shared databases. These efforts would enable the rapid testing of basic hypotheses as well as promoting the exploration of clinical and service hypotheses regarding the causes, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders.
This report presents a compelling set of recommendations to meet Objective 3 of the NIMH Strategic plan. That is, to develop new and better interventions for mental disorders that incorporate the diverse needs and circumstances of people with mental illness. While the report emphasizes pharmacological strategies, the Institute continues to be committed to non-pharmacological treatment development. To that end, I want to encourage all of you to provide us with your best suggestions for expediting the development of novel non-pharmacological interventions. In fact, we are interested in any innovative opportunities for transforming prevention and treatment which you feel were missing in this report. Please send your suggestions to NAMHC_Interventions@mail.nih.gov.
Again, I want to extend my thanks to Council and its workgroup for a job well-done. We at NIMH look forward to working on these recommendations with all of our stakeholders.