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Director’s Report to the 225th National Advisory Mental Health Council Meeting - May 14, 2010


I am pleased to welcome members of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) and other participants and guests to our 225th Council meeting. In the months since our February Council meeting, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has been focused on several major initiatives aimed at accelerating mental health research and advancing the NIMH Strategic Plan as well as holding a continued focus on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act).

While our enthusiasm for science remains high, we are also mindful of the realities of the post-Recovery Act budget constraints. On February 1, 2010 the fiscal year (FY) 2011 President’s Budget Request was submitted to Congress. The FY 2011 request for NIH is $32.239B, an increase of $1.0B, or 3.2 percent above the FY 2010 level. The FY 2011 request for NIMH is $1.540B, an increase of $50.6M, or 3.39 percent over the FY 2010 level. At the annual Congressional appropriations hearings for NIH over the past two weeks, we heard great enthusiasm for NIH but concerns in both the Senate and the House of Representatives about increasing discretionary spending.

I would like to share with you some more specifics on several NIH and NIMH initiatives, as well as important news and staff changes of note at NIMH.

NIH-wide Updates

Recovery Act Update

NIH-wide, the Recovery Act has provided an exciting and unique opportunity to accelerate the pace of biomedical science while stimulating the economy via infrastructure support and the creation and retention of jobs. As you are well aware, Recovery Act funds have provided a significant jumpstart to the research objectives laid out in the NIMH Strategic Plan, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Strategic Plan for Research , and the Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research. At this point in the fiscal year, we have committed nearly all $366M allocated to NIMH in Recovery Act funds, with the final commitments coming to this Council meeting. A few studies to highlight that NIMH is funding partially or fully using Recovery Act funds include:

  • The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service members (Army STARRS) is the largest study of suicide and mental health among military personnel ever undertaken. Army STARRS will identify — as rapidly as possible — modifiable risk and protective factors related to mental illness and suicide. It also will support the Army's ongoing efforts to prevent suicide and improve soldiers' overall well-being. This $50M project, funded by the U.S. Army is an interdisciplinary Framingham-like study being conducted by a team of researchers across four institutions. NIMH has committed an additional $10M in Recovery Act funds to jumpstart this important and timely project.
  • The Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) project seeks to fundamentally change the trajectory and prognosis of schizophrenia through coordinated and aggressive treatment in the earliest stages of illness. RAISE is designed to reduce the likelihood of long-term disability that people with schizophrenia often experience. At the same time, it aims to reduce the financial impact on the public systems often tapped to pay for the care of people with schizophrenia. NIMH has awarded separate contracts to two independent research teams to develop interventions that can be tested in real-world treatment settings and be readily adopted and quickly put into practice should they prove successful. While this project will be jump-started with $25M in Recovery Act funds during the first two years, we expect to use NIMH base funds in the out-years to complete the study.
  • The first Transcriptional Atlas of Human Brain Development will be supported with $35M of Recovery Act funds to conduct a spatiotemporal survey of the human brain transcriptome and create a unique, multi-modal atlas encompassing pre- and post-natal developmental stages, including adolescence and adulthood. To achieve this goal, a consortium of three research groups from the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences, Yale University, and the University of Southern California has been formed. The framework of the transcriptional atlas is expected to be completed by fall 2011, and will include data from 11 developmental stages and 16 distinct brain regions.

While most NIMH Recovery Act initiatives are well underway, the NIH Office of the Director has continued to release new opportunities. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce (RFA-OD-10-013 )
    This Recovery Act initiative uses funding from the Recovery Act to introduce a new research grant program to encourage exceptionally creative scientists to develop highly innovative and possibly transforming approaches for promoting diversity within the biomedical research workforce. To be considered highly innovative, the proposed research must reflect ideas substantially different from those already being pursued or it must apply existing research designs in new and innovative ways to unambiguously identify factors that will improve the retention of students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty from diverse backgrounds. These May 4 receipts will be reviewed in July and come to our Council for consideration in late summer.
  • Recovery Act Limited Competition: Impact of Decision-Support Systems on the Dissemination and Adoption of Imaging-Related Comparative Effectiveness Findings (RFA-OD-10-012 )
    This Recovery Act initiative invites Research Project Cooperative Agreement applications from organizations that propose to study the impact of clinical decision support systems in disseminating and increasing the consideration of comparative effectiveness research findings. The purpose of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to implement and assess real-time decision support systems, which if effective, could be broadly adopted. These May 5 receipts will be reviewed in July and come to our Council for consideration in late summer.

Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Opportunity Network (OppNet)

The NIH Director, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., recently announced the launch of the Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet ). OppNet is a trans-NIH initiative involving 24 Institutes and Centers and 5 programs within the NIH Office of the Director. The mission of OppNet is to strengthen the agency's funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research (b-BSSR) while innovating beyond existing investments. 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 NIH OD has used Recovery Act funds to jumpstart this new initiative and has posted several FOAs. These included:

  • Recovery Act Limited Competition: NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) Short-term Mentored Career Development Awards in the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences for Mid-career and Senior Investigators (RFA-OD-10-003) 
    This Recovery Act initiative supported applications for short-term mentored career development (K18) awards in the basic behavioral and social sciences research (b-BSSR) from three months to one year in duration. The program targeted established, mid-career and senior investigators, to support their development of research capability in b-BSSR. The intent of this initiative was to provide candidates with protected time to achieve a shift in the focus of their research direction in the basic behavioral and social sciences, or to substantially enrich a current b-BSSR research program through the introduction of tools, theories, or approaches from another discipline or area of science; it was not intended as a substitute for research project support.
  • Competitive Revision Applications (R01, R03, R15, R21, R21/R33, and R37) for HIV/AIDS-related Research through the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) (NOT-OD-10-033 )
    This announcement called for competitive revision applications (formerly termed competitive supplements) to accelerate, expand, and/or strengthen basic behavioral and social sciences research relevant to HIV/AIDS risk, prevention, and treatment.
  • Competitive Revision Applications for Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Transfer Technology Research Grants (R43/R44 and R41/R42) through the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) (NOT-OD-10-034 )
    This announcement called for competitive revision applications to relevant active NIH-supported small business research project grants to accelerate innovation through basic behavioral and social science research and development that has commercial potential and is relevant to the mission of OppNet.
  • Competitive Revision Applications (R01, R03, R15, R21, R21/R33, and R37) through the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) (NOT-OD-10-032 )
    This announcement called for competitive revision applications to accelerate, expand, and/or strengthen basic behavioral and social sciences research.

Cures Acceleration Network

The Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) is a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (better known as the Health Care Reform law) which calls for dramatic advancement in the development of new treatment and cures by reducing barriers between laboratory discoveries and clinical trials. CAN will be overseen by the NIH Director in collaboration with a Review Board, which will be established to advise and provide recommendations to the NIH Director on policies, programs, and procedures for overcoming barriers to the successful translation of basic science into clinical application. The NIH Director is authorized to spend $500M/year to promote innovation in technologies supporting the advanced research and development and production of high-need cures, including through the development of medical products and behavioral therapies. At this point, no funds have been appropriated specifically for CAN.

New NIH Common Fund Programs and Initiatives

The NIH Common Fund  is a cross-cutting, trans-NIH effort to support innovative science, stimulate interdisciplinary research, and reshape clinical research to accelerate medical discovery and improve public health. Programs co-chaired by the Directors of NIH Institutes and Centers and populated with nominees from various Institutes and Centers developed initiatives for the NIH Common fund, which can be viewed online. These initiatives include:

  • Science of Behavior Change: Finding Mechanisms of Change in the Laboratory and the Field (RFA-RM-10-002 )
    This initiative solicits Research Project Grant (R01) applications that will improve understanding of the basic mechanisms of behavior change by bridging work in the laboratory and the field. This understanding will advance several goals, including: the identification of the optimal targets and times in the life course for intervention; the identification of common mechanisms of change related to either multiple or bundled health behaviors; the ability to tailor interventions to particular at-risk individuals or groups; the application of novel technologies for behavioral assessment and change; and the identification of individuals or groups most likely to benefit from specific interventions. NIH has committed up to $4M to this initiative beginning in FY10.
  • Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular Signatures (LINCS )
    This program will build a community resource of scientific information to drive understanding of how components of biological systems, such as genes and proteins, function normally to maintain health or become disrupted by genetic and environmental stressors to cause disease. This resource will accelerate discoveries of the inner working of biological systems that can be targeted for use in new and better treatments.
  • Large Scale Production of Perturbagen-Induced Cellular Signatures (RFA-RM-10-003 )
    This initiative seeks to establish a pilot-scale data production effort to systematize approaches for identifying mechanism-based associations among the effects of disparate biological perturbations, a knowledge base that can be used to study functional relationships among the responding cellular components. Total funds available for the program are $2.7M in FY 2010, ramping to $5M in FY 2011 and in FY 2012.
  • Production of Human Proteins to be Used for Generating Affinity Reagents (RFA-RM-10-007 )
    The Protein Capture Reagents Program is designed to create a suite of high quality, affordable, and reliable new research tools to isolate, or capture, proteins in order to study their function under normal conditions and when the cell is stressed or diseased. The Production of Human Proteins to be Used for Generating Affinity Reagents initiative is the first component of this program to examine the feasibility and value of generating such a community resource for all human proteins. The total funds available for this program are $1M for each of three years.
  • The Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI; RFA-TW-10-008 ) The Global Health Program is designed for increasing capacity for global health research by enhancing education, training and research opportunities in developing countries. As part of this new program, MEPI aims to build human capacity for health in Africa by strengthening the medical education system in an environment that values and nurtures research and which will contribute to the sustainability and quality of the overall effort. These models will also contribute to the sustainability of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief investments through the provision of excellence in clinical training and the capacity of medical students and faculty to participate in and carry out multidisciplinary locally driven research (e.g., implementation science and/or clinical, health services, and operations research) that responds to the health needs of their communities and country and improves health outcomes for men, women, and children.
  • Advancing Regulatory Science through Novel Research and Science-Based Technologies (RFA-RM-10-006 )
    The Regulatory Science Program is a new collaboration between NIH and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that will encourage rapid and efficient use of new knowledge, technologies, and innovations in the development, investigation and regulatory review of medical products. The main goal is to ensure the development of safe and effective products based on the highest quality science in the U.S. The initiative will foster the development, evaluation and availability of new or improved tools, methods, standards, and applied science that support a better understanding and improved evaluation of product safety, quality, effectiveness, and manufacturing throughout the product life cycle. The total amount of funds available for these awards is approximately $6.75M total costs for FY2010-2012, with funds contributed by the FDA and the NIH Common Fund.

NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research

The NIH Neuroscience Blueprint  is a framework to enhance cooperation among the 16 NIH ICs 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:

  • The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Grand Challenge on Pain
    This initiative will support research that explores how pain can change from an acute, temporary state to a chronic, potentially disabling condition. The initiative seeks to bring researchers from the neuroplasticity field into the pain field, and supplements were made available to set up these collaborations under an existing NIH grant. In the next two years, this Grand Challenge will be expanded to promote larger collaborative projects on the transition from acute to chronic pain and to train new investigators in state-of-the-art methods for studying pain.
  • The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Grand Challenge: New Drugs for Diseases and Disorders of the Nervous System (NOT-NS-10-002 )
    This initiative will set up a pipeline to move candidate drugs for neurological disorders through preclinical development into early clinical trials. Successful applicants to the program will receive funding to conduct biological testing in their laboratories and unprecedented access to a full range of industry-style drug development services and expertise. The investigators will retain the intellectual property for compounds they develop through this program. A Notice of Intent to publish has been issued to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop responsive projects.
  • The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Grand Challenge: The Human Connectome Project (RFA-MH-10-020 )
    The overall purpose of this five year Human Connectome Project is to develop and share knowledge about the structural and functional connectivity of the human brain. Under this initiative, “connectivity” is defined at the level showing structural and/or functional linkages from one major subdivision (cortical areas or subcortical nuclei) of the brain to others. It is recognized that many current technologies are best suited to collect data from cerebral cortex, though, to the extent that it is possible, subcortical connectomic data are also of great interest to the Project.
  • Notice of Availability of Administrative Supplements for R25 Science Education Grants (NOT-DA-10-007) 
    This administrative supplement program of $600K will provide funds to Blueprint Institute-supported research education projects. The purpose of this program is to create and broadly disseminate materials/programs to inform students and teachers in kindergarten-grade 12 about the field of neuroscience.

Peer Review Enhancement

Applications for due dates on or after January 25, 2010 required the use of new forms and new instructions. The NIH has reorganized the applications by aligning the structure and content with review criteria. This alignment is intended to help ensure that both reviewer and applicant expectations coincide for a more efficient and transparent application process. These new forms reflect the shortened page limits for competing applications, to help reduce the administrative burden placed upon applicants, reviewers, and staff. This change seeks to focus applicants and reviewers on the essentials of the science that are needed for a fair and comprehensive review of the application. Shorter applications may have additional benefits for reviewers such as mitigating information overload, and/or enabling a larger number of reviewers to read each application and participate in review in a more informed manner.

In addition, the NIH has established a Peer Review Evaluation Group to lay the foundation for continuous review of peer review and has commenced a dynamic effort to assess the cumulative outcomes of the concurrent changes being brought about by the peer review enhancements.At present, applicant, review, and NIH employee surveys have been administered. Information gathered through the online surveys will help NIH to continue to enrich the peer review process.

NIMH Updates

Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health

The NIH Office of the Director approved the re-designation of the Office for Special Populations and the Office of Global Mental Health as the Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health (ORDGMH). The new title more closely depicts the Office’s functions and scientific foci, as well as NIMH’s intent to increase its focus on health disparities inside and outside of the U.S. Under the direction of Pamela Collins, M.D., M.P.H., Director of ORDGMH, NIMH will spend most of 2010 charting a new course for the Institute’s approach to health disparities. Throughout this year, NIMH will be leading a Delphi-like project with the Global Alliance for Chronic Disease to identify best opportunities for research in global mental health. By the end of 2010, we plan to have a priority list for global mental health research. In addition, ORDGMH has also invited early career professionals to the Careers in Global Mental Health meeting on July 30, 2010. The meeting will bring together early career clinical and research professionals (including medical and public health students) for an interactive forum, with the goal of orienting them to research careers in global mental health. Recent graduates in any of the following disciplines are encouraged to apply: medicine, psychiatry, neurosciences, psychology, social work, public health, epidemiology, anthropology, sociology and other relevant degrees) interested in developing their skills and knowledge for addressing global mental health challenges through innovative research to apply.

Two critical planning meetings have already been held. On March 2-3, 2010, ORDGMH hosted a meeting entitled, “On the Pulse of Global Mental Health Action: Identifying Strategic Research Opportunities” in Bethesda, MD. Eighteen leaders from around the globe working in nongovernmental organizations, mental health policy, and mental health research were convened to initiate dialogue among these sectors to address the gaps in access to evidence-based mental health care in low- and middle-income countries. The specific goals of this workshop were to identify areas of research that will enable advancements in the treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of mental illness around the world; to identify areas of need and strategies to close gaps in implementation research; and to articulate ways in which policy makers, advocates, researchers, and service providers can interact to facilitate research that informs implementation and scale-up of evidence-based interventions.

On May 5, 2010, NIMH convened thought leaders from around the country for a meeting entitled, “Closing the Gaps,” a brainstorming session to discuss how NIMH-funded research can reduce mental health disparities in the U.S. Participants discussed critical gaps in evidence, prioritization of needs, and creative formulation of a principled strategy to reduce disparities in mental health in the U.S.

NIMH Strategic Plan and Funding Opportunities

NIMH continues to implement the NIMH Strategic Plan. Published in September 2008, the Plan seeks to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses by supporting and conducting research that will have the greatest public health impact. In the past year, the Plan has served to guide strategies for research initiatives and funding decisions. When presented with extraordinary funding opportunities through the passage of the Recovery Act, the Institute was able to jumpstart many of the goals of the Plan. Further implementation building upon this impressive base will be guided by a continual planning process. This planning process was initiated last year through the formation of four planning groups, each to address one of the four strategic objectives that make up the Plan, covering the spectrum of mental health research from basic science to ensuring its public health impact. The groups have devised specific implementation plans for each area that cover the five year life of the plan, with an eye towards the next five-year Plan.

NIMH Meetings

Brain Camp II
Brain Camp II, sponsored by NIMH and organized by Mayada Akil, M.D., of the Division of Intramural Research Programs (DIRP), was held from March 13-16, 2010, in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. The meeting brought together outstanding psychiatry residents and research fellows with some of the most distinguished and thoughtful neuroscientists in the country. The goal of the meeting was to support the careers of physician scientists, to identify areas of neuroscience that are relevant to psychiatrists and to determine the most effective means of communicating them to psychiatrists in training. Topics discussed included neurodevelopment as it pertains to psychiatric disorders, social neuroscience and brain circuitry underlying fear, anxiety, and recovery. In addition to giving high quality scientific presentations targeted to psychiatrists, many of the invited neuroscientists remained for informal conversation with the trainees. The atmosphere was collegial and the science outstanding. Several NIMH staff members attended the meeting.

Brain Awareness Week
NIMH participated in the eleventh annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW) health and science information fair held at the National Museum of Health and Medicine on the campus of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., from March 15-21, 2010. BAW is an international effort that takes place for one week during the month of March. The program is sponsored by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness about brain research, and is designed to teach middle school students about the neurosciences and brain health. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) was the lead institute in coordinating NIH participation. NIDA, National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) also participated in the event. The NIMH Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison teamed with the NIMH DIRP fellows to present information to the children.

The 3rd Annual NIH Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation: Methods and Measurement
The third annual NIH Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation: Methods and Measurement was held March 15-16, 2010, in Bethesda, MD, bringing together leading researchers, practitioners and policymakers to discuss research methods and measurement development in dissemination and implementation research. Over 900 people registered for this year’s meeting, which focused on improving precision and innovation in dissemination and implementation research designs. The conference series complements the NIMH-led, Trans-NIH program announcements in dissemination and implementation research (PAR-10-038 ; PAR-10-039 ; PAR-10-040 ) as well as other research efforts to improve the uptake of effective practices in health care and community practice settings.

Outreach Partnership Program Annual Meeting
The NIMH Outreach Partnership Program is a national initiative that enlists at least one Outreach Partner from each of the 50 states (2 in California, Texas, and New York), the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to disseminate science-based information to help bridge the gap between mental health research and community practice. The meeting, conducted from March 23-25, 2010, provided the opportunity for participants to hear scientific updates from NIMH staff and guest speakers, as well as to present their own activities and network with one another. The implications of parity implementation for communities, providers and insurers were addressed by Sam Zuvekas, Ph.D., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. NIMH Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications staff presented an overview of NIMH’s communications efforts and heard about community needs. Partner breakout sessions addressed outreach to faith-based communities, and pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders.

Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS)
The seven winners of the 2009 Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) gathered for a ceremony at NIMH on March 26, 2010 to congratulate them on their recent BRAINS grant. The BRAINS award is intended to support highly innovative R01 research projects and career development for outstanding, early stage scientists. The ceremony included presentations from keynote speaker Ronald E. Dahl, M.D., and each of the 2009 BRAINS awardees. In the afternoon, awardees met with NIMH leadership and program staff. The 2009 Awardees are:

  • Sean Deoni, Ph.D., Brown University, Imaging White Matter Maturation During Healthy Brain Development
  • Daniel Dickstein, M.D., Brown University, Bio-Behavioral Markers of Bipolar Conversion
  • Stephen Gilman, Sc.D., Harvard University, Social Imprinting in the Development of Major Depression
  • Daniela Kaufer, Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, Identification & Prevention of Developmental Myelin Misregulation in PTSD
  • Nicholas Sokol, Ph.D., Indiana University, The Control of Neuronal Diversity and Plasticity by the let-7-C microRNA Pathway
  • Consuelo Walss-Bass, Ph.D., University of Texas San Antonio, Immune System & Genetic Modulation of Brain Development & Behavior in Adolescence
  • Linda Wilbrecht, Ph.D., Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, University of California, San Francisco, Longitudinal Imaging of Frontal Cortex Afferents in a Mouse Model of Anxiety

The BRAINS RFA was re-issued in 2010 with a call for research that addresses specific priorities in the NIMH Strategic Plan.

Advancing the Science of Effective Behavioral Treatments in Primary Care
On April 14-15, 2010, NIMH joined with the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), NIDA, and NIAAA in hosting a workshop entitled, Advancing the Science of Effective Behavioral Treatments in Primary Care. The meeting, held on the NIH campus, brought together the Nation’s leading researchers on improving primary care practice and outcomes for common chronic medical conditions. Participants discussed the urgent need for integrated primary care approaches that address a broad array of common chronic diseases, focusing on patient, provider and system perspectives on effective strategies to incorporate behavioral approaches and patient self-management in primary health care. The output of the meeting will inform NIH’s research agenda in this arena and sharpen scientific priorities.

NIMH Coalition on Research Progress
NIMH held its sixth annual meeting of the Professional Coalition for Research Progress (The Coalition) on April 23, 2010 in Washington, D.C. The meeting served as an opportunity for representatives from professional organizations with an interest in NIMH research to hear about advances in mental health research and current and new research directions and strategies for NIMH; to network with colleagues; and, to interact with and express their views directly to senior level staff. Topics included discussion of OppNet and Science of Behavior Change Common Fund Effort, the NIH Human Connectome Project, Mental Health Economics, Development of Novel Therapeutics, and the Climate for Research Support. Speakers included Richard Hodes, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Mike Huerta, Ph.D., Associate Director for the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, NIMH, Michael Schoenbaum, Ph.D., Division of Services and Intervention Research, NIMH, Carlos Zarate, M.D., Chief of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Research Unit, NIMH, and John Edward Porter, Chair of Research!America.

NCDEU 50th Anniversary: Learning from the Past to Advance the Future of Mental Health Treatment
The New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit meeting (NCDEU) focuses on the latest developments in psychopharmacologic clinical trials research and related methodology. Co-sponsored by NIMH and the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology (ASCP), the meeting brings together over 1200 academic and industry investigators, research pharmacists, and clinicians. After 50 years of supporting NCDEU, NIMH has decided to turn over this meeting to ASCP. The 2010 meeting on June 14-17, 2010 will be the final year that NIMH will organize the NCDEU meeting.

Grantee Awards

  • The first Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Nakasone Award has been conferred upon NIMH grantee, Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University for his pioneering work in the application of microbial opsins as "optogenetic" tools in neurobiology. The HFSP Nakasone Award has been established on honor scientists who have made key breakthroughs in fields at the forefront of the life sciences. Dr. Deisseroth will give the first HFSP Nakasone Lecture at the annual meeting of HFSP awardees to be held in Kerala, India in November 2010.
  • NIMH MERIT awardee Roger A. Nicoll, M.D., Professor in the Departments of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, is the recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award in the Neurosciences. Dr. Nicoll is being honored for his seminal discoveries elucidating cellular and molecular bases for synaptic plasticity in the brain. The award recognizes extraordinary contributions to progress in neuroscience and comes with a $25,000 prize.
  • NIMH grantees Michael J. Kahana, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Frank Tong, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, will each receive a Troland Research Award. Dr. Kahana is being honored for innovative experimental, theoretical, and computational work leading to new insights regarding the dynamics of human episodic memory. Dr. Tong is being honored for pioneering the use of neural decoding techniques to explore mechanisms in the human brain mediating perception, attention, and object recognition. The Troland Research Awards of $50,000 each are given annually to young investigators to recognize unusual achievement and to further empirical research within the broad spectrum of experimental psychology.
  • The 2010 Ziskind-Somerfeld Research Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry was awarded to a paper authored by NIMH Grantees Tania Roth, Ph.D., Farah Lubin, Ph.D., and J. David Sweatt, Ph.D. titled “Epigenetic Influence of Early Life Adversity,” published in Biological Psychiatry. Dr. Sweatt also serves as Chair of the NIMH Board of Scientific Counselors. The award was endowed for the purpose of stimulating international research in biological psychiatry by senior investigators who are members of the Society of Biological Psychiatry.
  • Donald Pfaff, Ph.D., and Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., of Rockefeller University, and Thomas Insel, M.D., NIMH Director will share the 2010 Foundation Ipsen Neuronal Plasticity Prize for their studies on the “neuroendocrine control of behavior.” The Foundation Ispen presents the award to “researchers who publish remarkable, pioneering studies.” The Foundation Ipsen Prize in Neuronal Plasticity will be presented at a symposium at the 7th Forum of European Neuroscience in Amsterdam on July 4, 2010.
  • On April 27, 2010, three NIMH grantees were among the 72 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences. With the election of these new members, the National Academy of Sciences currently has 2,097 active members and 409 foreign associates from 14 countries. The newly elected members and their affiliated organizations, as well as their field of research are:
    • J. Eric Gouaux, Ph.D.; investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and senior scientist, Vollum Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland; structure and function of neurotransmitter receptors and transporters
    • Terrence J. Sejnowski, Ph.D.; investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professor of biology, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla; computational analysis of visual processes, learning, and memory
    • Larry W. Swanson, Ph.D.; Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences, department of biological sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; brain systems that control basic drives and emotions

NIMH Staff News

Awards for NIMH Intramural Investigators

  • Jay Giedd, M.D. of the Child Psychiatry Branch was awarded tenure in the DIRP. His research program seeks to use cutting edge technologies to explore the relationship between genes, brain and behavior in healthy development and in neuropsychiatric disorders of childhood onset.
  • Benjamin White, Ph.D. of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology was awarded tenure in the DIRP. The focus of his research is the generation of methods for the identification and analysis of neuronal circuits underlying behavior in Drosophila.
  • Leslie Ungerleider, Ph.D., Chief of the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition is one of two recipients of the 2009-2010 William James Fellow Award honoring Association for Psychological Science (APS) Members for their lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology (see for award recognition). Dr. Ungerleider and her fellow honoree, Philip N. Johnson-Laird, Ph.D., of Princeton University, will receive their awards at the Annual APS Convention, in Boston from May 27-30, 2010. She will also give an APS Award Address titled “Functional Architecture of Face Processing in the Primate Brain.”
  • Ellen Leibenluft, M.D., Chief of the Section on Bipolar Spectrum Disorders has won the Blanche F. Ittelson Award for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Leibenluft will be honored for her “exemplary spirit of collaboration in research in pediatric bipolar disorder and for research contributions which have significantly advanced knowledge about diagnosis and treatment that can help relieve the suffering of children and adolescents with severe psychiatric disorders” at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans from May 22-26, 2010.
  • Thomas Schulze, M.D., Senior Research Fellow in the Genetics Branch in the Mood and Anxiety Program, under Francis McMahon, has received the 2009 Hans-Jorg-Weitbrecht Award for Clinical Neuroscience, one of the most prestigious German awards for neuroscience.


  • Jude Awuba, M.P.H., joined ORDGMH in April 2010, as a Scientific Program Analyst. He comes to NIMH from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Division of Technical Leadership and Research where he worked on scaling up mental health integration into HIV/AIDS programming in low resource settings. Mr. Awuba earned his Master of Public Health degree from the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, Sweden. His career also includes work for the Department of Defense, in health program management. Mr. Awuba’s research interests focus on community mental health service delivery and the integration of effective mental health services into HIV/AIDS programs and mental health systems in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Joyce Chung, M.D. has been selected as the new Deputy Clinical Director of the DIRP, and will begin full time work this spring. Joyce received her M.D. from Northwestern University Medical School, followed by an internship at Cambridge Hospital, residency in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and a research fellowship in social medicine at Harvard Medical School. She was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and most recently has been on the faculty of Georgetown University Medical School as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Psychiatric Research Training.
  • Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D. has been named Director of NIMH’s Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development. A former member of NIMH’s extramural program staff, Dr. Cuthbert returns to NIMH following four years as a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Minnesota. He first came to NIMH in 1998, and was from 1999 to 2005 Chief of the Adult Psychopathology and Prevention Research Branch. Since August 2009, he had been coordinating a project to develop neuroscience-based criteria for studying mental disorders. Dr. Cuthbert’s research has aimed at providing an understanding of how emotions, and disorders of emotional processing, originate in the interplay between the brain’s most basic motivational drives. Measured differences in how individuals react to neutral and emotionally-charged images—in terms of, for example, startle reflexes, heart rate, brain activity, and verbal descriptions of emotional state—reveal how complex emotional responses are ultimately based in the brain wiring that implements fundamental survival-oriented drives. A model of how motivational processes relate to emotion provides a way to understand co-morbidity among anxiety, mood, and personality disorders, and to identify risk for these disorders. Another goal is to develop diagnostic approaches that focus on symptoms that may be common to different conditions.
  • Holly Garriock, Ph.D., has joined the Division of Developmental Translation Research as a Program Official. After earning her Ph.D. in genetics at the University of Arizona, Dr. Garriock conducted her post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Garriock was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Fellowship as well as a National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders Young Investigator Award for research on the role of the mu-opioid receptor gene in major depressive disorder and antidepressant response. She also investigated the genetic basis of antidepressant response and medication-induced side-effects using genome-wide association studies.
  • Ann Graham has joined the Office of the Scientific Director, DIRP, as the Special Assistant to the Director. She comes to us from the NIMH Office of the Director.
  • Miles Herkenham, Ph.D. has been named Associate Director for Basic Science, DIRP. In collaboration with the Scientific Director, Dr. Herkenham will work with NIMH basic scientists to shape an improved basic neuroscience research program that links basic science to translational and clinical scientists, capitalizing on the unique features of the DIRP environment. His goals are to enhance research synergy, optimize awareness and use of basic core facilities, and work among research groups to identify common themes and shared needs.
  • Souheil Inati, Ph.D. has joined DIRP’s Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facility (FMRIF) as a Staff Scientist.Dr. Inati received his B.S. in Physics from Yale University and his Ph.D. in Physics from M.I.T. From 1999-2002 Dr. Inati served as a Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Psychological Sciences, Dartmouth College, and MRI Physicist at the Dartmouth Brain Imaging Center. His research program developed a method for integrating diffusion tensor measures with fMRI measures for connectivity measurement, and a method for probabilistic fiber tractography for diffusion tensor imaging. Most recently he has been an Assistant Professor and Research Associate Professor at the Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology, New York University (NYU), and Chief MRI Physicist at the NYU Brain Imaging Center.
  • Scherri Jacobsen joined the Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development in November 2009 as executive assistant to the Director. Prior to arriving at NIMH, she served in an administrative capacity at Chemonics International (a government contracting firm specializing in USAID-sponsored international development) and various non-profit health and services organizations. Ms. Jacobsen graduated from Howard University, where she received her B.A. in anthropology.
  • Vonda Jewell has joined the DIRP as the new Chief of the Administrative Services Branch. Ms. Jewell has over 20 years of experience at NIH within both Intramural and Extramural administration, including two years at the NIMH DIRP. She has been working as a senior Administrative Officer for the past nine years at NINDS and brings strong leadership and management skills to this position.
  • Dana March, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined ORDGMH in February 2010, as a Scientific Program Manager. She comes to NIMH from Columbia University, where she completed her M.P.H. and Ph.D., funded by NIMH as a pre-doctoral fellow in the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program. Her current projects at Columbia include a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)-funded study of the emergence of health disparities over the life course and a cross-national comparison of discrimination and disparities in the U.S. and the U.K., of which she is Co-Investigator. At NIMH, her focus is on strategic investments in research to facilitate the rapid reduction of mental health disparities across social groups and diverse geographic locations in the U.S., as well as internationally.
  • LeShawndra Price, Ph.D., joined ORDGMH in April 2010, as Chief of the Disparities Program and the Deputy Director for Research. A former extramural staff member at NIMH from 2001 to 2007, Dr. Price served as Chief of both the Disruptive Behavior Program and the Stress and Trauma Program in the Division of Developmental Translational Research, with a special interest in trans-NIH health disparities research issues. Dr. Price received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For the past two and a half years, Dr. Price has been a Health Scientist Administrator in the Epidemiology Research Branch of NIDA where she managed both the health disparities portfolio and the family processes and early risks for drug use portfolio.
  • David St. Clair, M.D. has joined DIRP’s Section on Clinical Studies in the Genes, Cognition and Psychosis Program. Dr. St. Clair received his M.D. from the University of Oxford in 1993, and has been Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen prior to his arrival at the NIMH.While he has worked on bipolar disorder and dementias, his principal interest has been investigating the etiology and pathogenesis of schizophrenia. His work contributed to the identification of the DISC1 gene, and he and his colleagues have recently published details of a novel DISC1 transgenic mouse with structural and behavioral features of schizophrenia.


  • Donna Mayo, Ph.D. has joined the Veterans Administration in Birmingham, AL where she is Associate Chief of Staff for Research.
  • Maxine Steyer, Program Specialist in the Office of the Scientific Director, DIRP, will retire June 1, 2010 after 36 years in the NIMH DIRP. Ms. Steyer expertly managed personnel for the DIRP and has the distinction of having worked with all NIMH Scientific Directors except one. She is leaving the NIMH to retire to the mountains of western Maryland to care for her beloved mother, spend more time with family, and devote more time to gardening.
  • Ana Velez left NIMH on February 27, 2010 to take a position at NICHD. Ms. Velez had been the NIMH Budget Officer for the previous three years.
  • JoAnne Wong left NIMH on January 16, 2010 to take a position at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Ms. Wong had been a senior Budget Analyst with NIMH for the previous five years.


  • Stanley Greenspan, M.D., who conducted research into the emotional lives of infants at NIMH’s DIRP in the 1970s, died April 27, 2010 in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Greenspan was a popular author and speaker on the well-being of children. At the time of his death, he was a Professor at The George Washington University Medical Center.
  • Anne Cooley was a writer/editor at NIMH for over 25 years. In addition to her elegant writing style and helpful edits, Ms. Cooley was known for her wit. She led the annual NIMH sing-a-long in writing and performing song parodies throughout the 1980s. She passed away on March 28, 2010 in Bethesda, MD.
FY 2009 Actual Includes Comparable Adjustments
No. Amount No. Amount No. Amount
Research Grants:
Research Projects:
Noncompeting 534,781 97,184 631,965
Admin. Suppl 3,705 1,246 4,951
Competing 177,747 27,279 205,026
Subtotal 716,233 125,709 841,942
SBIR/STTR 25,218 4,861 30,079
Subtot.,RPG 741,451 130,570 872,021
Research Centers 94,494 19,294 113,788
Other Research:
Res. Careers 54,550 7,010 61,560
Coop. Clin. Res 490 1,343 1,833
Other 39,006 4,137 43,143
Subtot., Other 94,046 12,490 106,536
Total Res.Grants 929,991 162,354 1,092,345
Research Training:
Individual 9,759 953 10,712
Institutional 28,689 4,049 32,738
Total Training 38,448 5,002 43,450
R&D Contracts 64,540 8,284 72,824
Total, Extramural 1,032,979 175,640 1,208,619
Intramural Res 169,026 3,122 172,148
Res. Mgmt. & Supp 62,383 7,903 70,286
Total, NIMH 1,264,388 186,665 1,451,053

Attachment 1 - Table 2 of 3

FY 2010 Estimate
No. Amount No. Amount No. Amount
Research Grants:
Research Projects:
Noncompeting 558,904 95,984 654,888
Admin. Suppl 3,347 1,246 4,593
Competing 178,730 32,064 210,794
Subtotal 740,981 129,294 870,275
SBIR/STTR 26,280 4,837 31,117
Subtot.,RPG 767,261 134,131 901,392
Research Centers 95,912 19,583 115,495
Other Research:
Res. Careers 55,368 7,115 62,483
Coop. Clin. Res 497 0 497
Other 39,561 5,565 45,126
Subtot., Other 95,426 12,680 108,106
Total Res.Grants 958,599 166,394 1,124,993
Research Training:
Individual 9,831 960 10,791
Institutional 28,901 4,079 32,980
Total Training 38,732 5,039 43,771
R&D Contracts 65,508 8,408 73,916
Total, Extramural 1,062,839 179,841 1,242,680
Intramural Res 171,474 3,169 174,643
Res. Mgmt. & Supp 64,428 8,041 72,469
Total, NIMH 1,298,741 191,051 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 566,977 89,309 656,286
Admin. Suppl 3,347 1,246 4,593
Competing 187,241 42,435 229,676
Subtotal 757,565 132,990 890,555
SBIR/STTR 26,293 4,894 31,187
Subtot.,RPG 783,858 137,884 921,742
Research Centers 98,790 20,170 118,960
Other Research:
Res. Careers 57,029 7,328 64,357
Coop. Clin. Res 512 0 512
Other 40,748 5,732 46,480
Subtot., Other 98,289 13,060 111,349
Total Res.Grants 980,937 171,114 1,152,051
Research Training:
Individual 10,467 1,022 11,489
Institutional 30,768 4,344 35,112
Total Training 41,235 5,366 46,601
R&D Contracts 76,459 8,910 85,369
Total, Extramural 1,098,631 185,390 1,284,021
Intramural Res 176,962 3,270 180,232
Res. Mgmt. & Supp 67,649 8,443 76,092
Total, NIMH 1,343,242 197,103 1,540,343
% Over Prior Year 3.4% 3.2% 3.4%


FY 2011 President's Budget Request

(Dollars in Thousands)

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 1,256,517 5,264,643
NHLBI 3,014,873 3,095,812 91,704
NIDCR 101,819 423,511
NIDDK 3 1,910,151 1,957,364 50,225
NINDS 402,912 1,681,333
NIAID 4 4,701,456 4,816,726 160,344
NIGMS 505,188 2,125,090
NICHD 1,294,519 1,329,027 39,867
NEI 174,097 724,360


NIAMS 132,726 555,715
NIDCD 407,125 418,657 10,350
NIDA 1,032,457 1,059,446 34,632
NIAAA 113,851 474,649
NHGRI 502,261 515,876 18,083
NIBIB 77,937 325,925
NCRR 1,226,000 1,268,519 40,222
NCCAM 31,728 132,004
NCMHD 205,912 211,506 7,540
FIC 17,370 73,027
NLM 338,842 350,607 14,195
OD 1,336,837 1,220,478
B&F 125,581 100,000 25,581
Type 1 Diabetes 0 (150,000)
Subtotal, Labor/HHS
Research Program
19,297 81,763
Total, NIH Discretionary BA
Type 1 Diabetes 0 150,000
Total, NIH Budget Authority
NLM Progr. Eval 0 8,200
Total, Prog. Level