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Director’s Report to the 224th National Advisory Mental Health Council Meeting - February 11, 2010


I am pleased to welcome members of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) and other participants and guests to our 224th Council meeting.  In the months since our October Council meeting, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has been focused on implementing our Strategic Plan, implementing the five new research priorities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and preparing for the budgetary challenges of fiscal year (FY) 2011 that will follow the surge of funding received via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).

We are now nearly 18 months into the implementation phase of the NIMH Strategic Plan.  Recovery Act funding gave us an unprecedented boost; with $366 million arriving within 6 months of publishing the Plan, we were able to support new initiatives in each of our target areas: pathophysiology, predictive biomarkers, personalized interventions, and public health impact.  New large-scale efforts in genomics and neurodevelopment will yield an infrastructure for discovery that should transform NIMH research in the future.  In addition to targeted use of Recovery Act funding, NIMH has been consolidating its funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) to align with the Plan.  This means fewer FOAs and very few with a specific disease focus, so that we can focus our funding on our highest priorities.

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., our new NIH Director, has announced 5 research themes as priorities:

  1. Applying Genomics and Other High Throughput Technologies
  2. Translating Basic Science Discoveries into New and Better Treatments
  3. Using Science to Enable Health Care Reform
  4. Focusing on Global Health
  5. Reinvigorating the Biomedical Research Community

As you know from recent Council meetings, NIMH is already committed to each of these areas.  With recent findings of structural genomic variants in DNA from people with autism and schizophrenia, we are moving quickly from genotyping to sequencing large parts of the genome.  Our translational efforts, especially for early stage drug discovery, are featured in a current review paper on chemical genomics and drug discovery (Frearson and Collie, Drug Discovery Today, 14: 1150-1158, 2009).  With a new focus on mental health economics bridging intramural and extramural programs, NIMH has recently hired two senior economists to assist with projects relevant to mental health care parity and reform.  We have a new Office of Global Mental Health that will co-lead a grand challenge initiative with the Global Action for Chronic Disease network in 2010.  Additionally, several efforts to reinvigorate the biomedical research community have been launched at NIMH, including our Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS)  award program for innovative young investigators, all of whom will be honored in a symposium next month.

While our enthusiasm for science remains high, we cannot ignore the impending budgetary realities.  We expect 2011 to be a difficult year.  As you will see in more detail below, the President’s FY2011 Budget proposes a 3.4% increase over our FY2010 NIMH allocation.  This increase is our highest since 2003, but with Recovery Act grants ending and the potential that unfunded Recovery Act applications will be submitted, we assume that the number of applications next year could be much greater than in FY2010.  Perhaps the restrictions on application re-submissions (no A2s) will offset this expected surge; however to protect against a precipitous drop in our success rate over the next couple of years, NIMH is carefully watching its out-year commitments and keeping set aside funds for RFAs flexible to protect the payline for outstanding unsolicited grant applications. 

I would like to provide some more specific updates on the Recovery Act new initiatives at NIH, activities of the Office of the Director at NIMH, and some organizational and staff changes of note.  Importantly, we have a new extramural division: the Division of AIDS Research (DAR).

Recovery Act Update

The total committed Recovery Act funds to date are $349 million of the $366 million allocation received by the NIMH. This infusion of money represents a unique opportunity to stimulate the economy by creating and preserving jobs, while advancing biomedical research. Additionally, Recovery Act funds will help jumpstart the research objectives laid out in the Strategic Plan for Research, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Strategic Plan for Research  and the Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research.  The remaining Recovery Act funds will be spent in FY2010, via both new NIH FOAs as well as NIMH initiatives.  These include the following:

NIH-wide Updates

  • In 2009, NIH created the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases Program (TRND) , acknowledging that one of the greatest challenges in rare and neglected diseases has been getting a new molecular target or chemical into the drug development pipeline. The goal of TRND is to “de-risk” the early stages of drug development for rare and neglected diseases for industry investment (although costs are not necessarily decreased). The project also focuses on neglected targets by extending NIH’s efforts with the pre-clinical stages of drug development and to allow promising compounds to develop toward pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies up until the investigational new drug stage.  TRND will begin within the NIH intramural program, working closely with the National Chemical Genomics Center, and will progress to develop extramural and industry partnerships.
  • NIH launched the Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet)  on November 18, 2009. OppNet is a trans-NIH initiative to expand the agency's funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research (basic-BSSR). Basic-BSSR furthers our understanding of fundamental mechanisms and patterns of behavioral and social functioning, relevant to the Nation’s health and well-being, as they interact with each other, with biology and the environment. Research results lead to new approaches for reducing risky behaviors and improving health.  The OppNet budget is expected to grow to $30M per year, supported by all 27 NIH institutes and centers.  Current OppNet related funding opportunities are listed within the Recovery Act Update section (above). 

NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research

The NIH Neuroscience Blueprint  is a framework to enhance cooperation among the 15 NIH Institutes that support research on the nervous system. Created in 2004, the Blueprint has already funded a number of innovative cross-cutting projects.  New initiatives include:

  • Blueprint Program for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (R25) 
    The goal of this FOA is to increase the diversity of students who successfully enter and complete Ph.D. programs in the neurosciences. This initiative was designed to support the development of collaborative research education partnerships that will increase undergraduate participants’ (1) awareness and interest in the neurosciences, (2) develop their scientific knowledge and hands-on research skills that will allow them to advance in neuroscience related research, education, and training activities, and (3) to establish networks with existing Ph.D. granting and NIH-supported predoctoral T32 neuroscience programs. These networks are intended to actively facilitate participants’ transition from the undergraduate to the graduate school level in the neurosciences.  Mark Chavez, Ph.D., of NIMH will serve as the team leader of this project (RFA-MH-10-070).
  • The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Grand Challenge: New Treatments for Diseases of the Nervous System
    As a sister project to TRND (see above), one of the Blueprint grand challenges is to enhance the pipeline for new medications by bridging the “valley of death” between target identification and phase 1 clinical trials.  The goal is to develop new therapies for central nervous system disorders, not limited to rare and neglected diseases.  The team is drafting a request for proposals for a medicinal chemistry contract and a request for applications for U01 cooperative agreements that will support disease-focused bioactivity assays (for chemical optimization) and in vitro efficacy studies.  Jill Heemskerk, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke will serve as the team leader of this project. 

NIMH Updates

New FOAs

Recovery Act funds provided an exciting opportunity to initiate many two-year projects that will jumpstart NIMH’s progress on meeting the objectives of the Strategic Plan. Following this jumpstart, NIMH will continue to pursue the objectives of the NIMH Strategic Plan and the recommendations of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) Workgroup on Research Training Report (PDF file, 49 pages) through the development of funding initiatives, among other activities. These include the following FOAs:

  • Blueprint Program for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (R25) A description can be found within the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research section (above).
  • Seeding National Mentoring Networks to Enhance Diversity of the Mental Health Research Workforce (U24) 
    This FOA, issued by NIMH, solicits Resource-Related Research Project Cooperative Agreement (U24) applications from institutions/organizations that propose 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 the NIMH.  Each mentoring network will be expected to have a focused scientific theme that is highly germane to the mission and strategic priorities of the NIMH including the Center for Mental Health Research on AIDS.  The 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 (RFA-MH-10-050).

Office of Special Populations

  • The Second Annual Trauma Spectrum Disorders Conference: A Scientific Conference on the Impact of Military Service on Family and Caregivers (December 10, 2009, Bethesda, Maryland)
    The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, NIH, Department of Veterans Affairs, and other Federal Partners presented the second annual collaborative scientific conference examining recent research on trauma spectrum disorders (TSD). This year’s conference focused on the impact of TSD on military and veteran families and caregivers across deployment, homecoming, and reintegration.
  • Women in Science at the National Institutes of Health 2007-2008  was published by the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health in late 2009 to acknowledge the careers, leadership paths and life accomplishments of women scientists.  The publication showcased five NIMH honorees (Jacqueline Crawley, Ph.D., Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D., Judy Rapoport, M.D., Susan Swedo, M.D., Leslie Ungerleider, Ph.D.) and featured an additional eight NIMH honorees (Karen Berman, M.D., Linda Brady, Ph.D., Della Hann, Ph.D., Ellen Leibenluft, M.D., Molly Oliveri, Ph.D., Jane Steinberg, Ph.D., Esther Sternberg, M.D., Ellen Stover, Ph.D.).

Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison (OCRPL)

  • NIMH Alliance for Research Progress (January 15, 2010, Winter Meeting)
    The NIMH convened the 12th meeting of the NIMH Alliance for Research Progress on January 15, 2010. The Alliance is a group of leaders from patient and family-related advocacy organizations directly concerned with mental illnesses. Topics included future directions for NIH, mental health parity, health care reform, and medical risks of severe mental illnesses. Speakers included Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., NIH Director; Richard Frank, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services; Henry T. Harbin, M.D., Health Care Consultant and former CEO and Chairman, Magellan Health Services; and John Newcomer, M.D., the Gregory B. Couch Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Medicine Medical Director, Center for Clinical Studies, Washington University School of Medicine.

Introducing the NIMH Division of AIDS Research (DAR)

The Director of the former NIMH Division of AIDS, Health and Behavior Research, Ellen Stover, Ph.D., was called on by the NIH Office of AIDS Research to serve as a special advisor and coordinator of federal efforts to develop behavioral preventive interventions. Philip Wang, M.D., Dr.P.H. has been named Acting Division Director. In light of the persistent high rate of new HIV infections, the Division has also been refocused solely on its AIDS research mission and its new name--the Division of AIDS Research (DAR)--reflects this change. In addition, NIMH convened a Summit of thought leaders last fall, both from within and outside the AIDS field, to review the NIMH AIDS portfolio and make suggestions for an optimal research agenda that will meaningfully impact the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Summit participants called for new research initiatives to develop more efficacious preventive interventions that target high risk groups and can efficiently be widely disseminated.

Awards for NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP) Investigators

  • Jay Giedd, M.D., was awarded the 2009 Joel Elkes Research Award by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in recognition of an outstanding clinical/translational contribution to neuropsychopharmacology.
  • Francis McMahon, M.D., and Carlos Zarate, M.D., were both awarded tenure in the Division of Intramural Research Program.

Staff Changes


  • Susan Borja, Ph.D., joined the Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development (DATR) in the Traumatic Stress Disorders Research Program.  Dr. Borja comes to NIMH from the Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Psychiatry and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Charleston, SC where she completed her Clinical Psychology Internship and research on neuropsychology of post-traumatic stress disorder and the role of cognition in psychopathology.
  • Diana Morales, M.P.H., joined OCRPL as the new Director of the Outreach Partnership Program.  Prior to coming to NIMH, Ms. Morales served as Vice President of Public Education at Mental Health America (MHA), formerly the National Mental Health Association.  In this role, she led the Campaign for America’s Mental Health, a 19-year-old mental health education program carried out by up to 60 MHA affiliates nationwide.  Ms. Morales earned her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland-College Park and a Masters in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  She began her career in social marketing during which she worked on NIMH’s award-winning National Panic Disorder Education Program.


  • Rebecca Delcarmen-Wiggins, Ph.D., will begin a one-year detail as Program Official for Special Projects on Social Neuroscience and Executive Function in the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.  Dr. Delcarmen-Wiggins is currently Chief of the Trajectories of Neurocognitive Functioning Program in the Division of Developmental Translational Research. 
  • Lucas Kempf, M.D., has joined the DATR Neuroscience Branch on a detail from the NIMH IRP beginning December, 2009. He graduated from University of California-Berkeley with a degree in genetics, followed by a research fellowship in imaging and genetics of schizophrenia at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. He received his medical degree from University of Kansas Medical School, and completed his residency in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. Dr. Kempf joined the IRP as a clinical fellow in the Unit of Systems Neuroscience in Psychiatry under Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, M.D., Ph.D., followed by a fellowship with Daniel Weinberger, M.D. in the Clinical Brain Disorders Branch.
  • Ellen Stover, Ph.D., has joined the NIH Office of AIDS Research on a detail to serve as a special advisor and coordinator for efforts on developing effective behavioral preventive interventions, a national priority given the lack of a successful vaccine and the persistent high rate of new infections.
  • Tracy Waldeck, Ph.D., has accepted a promotion to Branch Chief of Extramural Policy within the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA).  Dr. Waldeck has been a member of DEA since 2004 and will continue her current NAMHC related responsibilities and expand her expertise in extramural policy in her new role.

NAMHC Changes

New members of Council

  • Kay Jamison, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center.  She is also Honorary Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.  She is the author or co-author of five books and more than 100 scientific articles about mood disorders, suicide, psychotherapy, and lithium.  Her memoir about her own experiences with manic-depressive illness, An Unquiet Mind, was selected as one of the best books of 1995.
  • Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, M.D. is Director of the Hispanic Treatment Program at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University.  His research focuses on the socio-cultural determinants of illness experience, symptomatology, help-seeking behavior, and treatment dropout, and treatment outcome among U.S. Latinos diagnosed with anxiety, depressive, and dissociative disorders.
  • Rhonda Robinson Beale, M.D. is the Chief Medical Officer for OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions where she is responsible for facilitating the clinical direction, quality of care and clinical policy of the organization. She is an experienced behavioral health practitioner with over 20 years of behavioral health and quality management experience. She is currently a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Health Care Services Board and has served on the IOM Neuroscience and Behavioral Health Board.
  • Carla Shatz, Ph.D. is Professor of Biological Science and Neurobiology at Stanford University School of Medicine.  She is also the Director of Bio-X, Stanford University’s interdisciplinary research program connecting biology and medicine.  Dr. Shatz’s research focuses on the discovery of how brain circuits are tuned up by experience during critical periods of development (before and after birth) via cellular and molecular mechanisms that transform early fetal and neonatal brain circuits into mature connections.  Her research is relevant not only for understanding brain wiring and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, but also for understanding how the nervous and immune systems interact.

Budget Information

National Institute of Mental Health FY 2011 President's Budget

(Dollars in Thousands)

Attachment 1 - Table 1 of 3

FY 2009 Actual Includes Comparable Adjustments
No. Amount No. Amount No. Amount
Research Grants:
Research Projects:
Noncompeting 1,406 534,781 179 97,184 1,585 631,965
Admin. Suppl (38) 3,705 (9) 1,246 (47) 4,951
    Competing 477 177,747 65 27,279 542 205,026
     Subtotal 1,883 716,233 244 125,709 2,127 841,942
    SBIR/STTR 73 25,218 15 4,861 88 30,079
     Subtot.,RPG 1,956 741,451 259 130,570 2,215 872,021
  Research Centers 58 94,494 8 19,294 66 113,788
  Other Research:
    Res. Careers 352 54,550 45 7,010 397 61,560
    Coop. Clin. Res 0 490 5 1,343 5 1,833
    Other 94 39,006 18 4,137 112 43,143
     Subtot., Other 446 94,046 68 12,490 514 106,536
Total Res.Grants 2,460 929,991 335 162,354 2,795 1,092,345
  Research Training: FTTP FTTP FTTP
    Individual 263 9,759 28 953 291 10,712
    Institutional 678 28,689 86 4,049 764 32,738
     Total Training 941 38,448 114 5,002 1,055 43,450
  R&D Contracts 162 64,540 8 8,284 170 72,824
    Total, Extramural 1,032,979 175,640 1,208,619
  Intramural Res 380 169,026 3 3,122 383 172,148
  Res. Mgmt. & Supp 245 62,383 15 7,903 260 70,286
    Total, NIMH 625 1,264,388 18 186,665 643 1,451,053

Attachment 1 - Table 2 of 3

FY 2010 Estimate
No. Amount No. Amount No. Amount
Research Grants:
  Research Projects:
    Noncompeting 1,376 558,904 173 95,984 1,549 654,888
    Admin. Suppl (35) 3,347 (9) 1,246 (44) 4,593
    Competing 471 178,730 75 32,064 546 210,794
     Subtotal 1,847 740,981 248 129,294 2,095 870,275
    SBIR/STTR 76 26,280 15 4,837 91 31,117
     Subtot.,RPG 1,923 767,261 263 134,131 2,186 901,392
  Research Centers 58 95,912 8 19,583 66 115,495
  Other Research:
    Res. Careers 352 55,368 45 7,115 397 62,483
    Coop. Clin. Res 0 497 0 0 0 497
    Other 94 39,561 23 5,565 117 45,126
     Subtot., Other 446 95,426 68 12,680 514 108,106
Total Res.Grants 2,427 958,599 339 166,394 2,766 1,124,993
  Research Training: FTTP FTTP FTTP
    Individual 263 9,831 28 960 291 10,791
    Institutional 678 28,901 86 4,079 764 32,980
     Total Training 941 38,732 114 5,039 1,055 43,771
  R&D Contracts 162 65,508 8 8,408 170 73,916
    Total, Extramural 1,062,839 179,841 1,242,680
  Intramural Res 387 171,474 3 3,169 390 174,643
  Res. Mgmt. & Supp 250 64,428 13 8,041 263 72,469
    Total, NIMH 637 1,298,741 16 191,051 653 1,489,792
    % Over Prior Year 2.7% 2.3% 2.7%

Attachment 1 - Table 3 of 3

FY 2011 President's Budget
No. Amount No. Amount No. Amount
Research Grants:
  Research Projects:
    Noncompeting 1,350 566,977 179 89,309 1,529 656,286
    Admin. Suppl (35) 3,347 (9) 1,246 (44) 4,593
    Competing 486 187,241 97 42,435 583 229,676
     Subtotal 1,836 757,565 276 132,990 2,112 890,555
    SBIR/STTR 76 26,293 15 4,894 91 31,187
     Subtot.,RPG 1,912 783,858 291 137,884 2,203 921,742
  Research Centers 59 98,790 8 20,170 67 118,960
  Other Research:
    Res. Careers 356 57,029 45 7,328 401 64,357
    Coop. Clin. Res 0 512 0 0 0 512
    Other 95 40,748 23 5,732 118 46,480
     Subtot., Other 451 98,289 68 13,060 519 111,349
Total Res.Grants 2,422 980,937 367 171,114 2,789 1,152,051
  Research Training: FTTP FTTP FTTP
    Individual 263 10,467 28 1,022 291 11,489
    Institutional 678 30,768 86 4,344 764 35,112
     Total Training 941 41,235 114 5,366 1,055 46,601
  R&D Contracts 161 76,459 13 8,910 174 85,369
    Total, Extramural 1,098,631 185,390 1,284,021
  Intramural Res 412 176,962 3 3,270 415 180,232
  Res. Mgmt. & Supp 238 67,649 13 8,443 251 76,092
    Total, NIMH 650 1,343,242 16 197,103 666 1,540,345
    % Over Prior Year 3.4% 3.2% 3.4%

Attachment 2

Appropriation FY 2009 Omnibus FY 2009
Recovery Act
FY 2010
FY 2011 President's
FY 2011 PB.
2010 Enacted
IC Total Total Total Total Total
NCI 4,967,714 1,256,517 2/    5,101,666 5,264,643 162,977
NHLBI 3,014,873 762,584 3,095,812 3,187,516 91,704
NIDCR 402,531 101,819 413,076 423,511 10,435
NIDDK 3/ 1,910,151 445,393 1,957,364 2,007,589 50,225
NINDS 1,592,851 402,912 1,635,721 1,681,333 45,612
NIAID 4/ 4,701,456 1,113,288 4,816,726 4,977,070 160,344
NIGMS 1,997,172 505,188 2,050,972 2,125,090 74,118
NICHD 1,294,519 327,443 1,329,027 1,368,894 39,867
NEI 688,276 174,097 706,765 724,360 17,595
662,667 168,057 689,565 707,339 17,774
NIA 1,080,472 273,303 1,109,800 1,142,337 32,537
NIAMS 524,696 132,726 538,854 555,715 16,681
NIDCD 407,125 102,984 418,657 429,007 10,350
NIMH 1,451,053 366,789 1,489,792 1,540,345 50,553
NIDA 1,032,457 261,156 1,059,446 1,094,078 34,632
NIAAA $450,095 113,851 462,167 474,649 12,482
141,834 35,877 145,600 150,198 4,598
NHGRI 502,261 127,035 515,876 533,959 18,083
NIBIB 308,108 77,937 316,452 325,925 9,473
NCRR 1,226,000 1,610,088 1,268,519 1,308,741 40,222
NCCAM 125,431 31,728 128,791 132,004 3,213
NCMHD 205,912 52,081 211,506 219,046 7,540
FIC 68,655 17,370 70,007 73,027 3,020
NLM 338,842 83,643 350,607 364,802 14,195
OD 1,247,292 1,336,837 1,177,020 1,220,478 43,458
B&F 125,581 500,000 100,000 125,581 25,581
Type 1 Diabetes (150,000) 0 (150,000) (150,000) 0
Subtotal, Labor/HHS 30,318,024 10,380,703 31,009,788 32,007,237 997,449
Research Program
78,074 19,297 79,212 81,763 2,551
Total, NIH Discretionary BA 30,396,098 10,400,000 31,089,000 32,089,000 1,000,000
Type 1 Diabetes 150,000 0 150,000 150,000 0
Total, NIH Budget Authority 30,546,098 10,400,000 31,239,000 32,239,000 1,00,000
NLM Progr. Eval 8,200 0 8,200 8,200 0
Total, Prog. Level 30,554,298 10,400,000 31,247,200 32,247,200 1,00,000

1/ Funds are appropriated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 (P.L. 111-5) and are available until

2/ Includes $8,000,000 for facilities repairs and improvements at the NCI Frederick Federally Funded Research and Development Center in Frederick, MD.

3/ Type 1 Diabetes Initiative mandatory funds provided throught P.L. 110-173 and P.L. 110-275 in FY 2009 and FY 2010, respectively, are included in NIDDK and subtracted in Type 1 Diabetes to ensure non-duplicative counting.

4/ Includes funds for transfer to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis (FY 2008 - $294,759,000; FY 2009 - $300,000,000; and FY 2010 - $300,000,000).