Director’s Report to the 226th National Advisory Mental Health Council Meeting - September 24, 2010
I am pleased to welcome members of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) and other participants and guests to our 226th Council meeting. In the months since our May Council meeting, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has been focused on completing the aims of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). In addition, many Institute staff members have been focused on developing and publishing our funding opportunity announcements for fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding, all aimed at accelerating mental health research and advancing the objectives of the NIMH Strategic Plan.
As we near the end of the final quarter of FY 2010, I would like to summarize a few matters related to the NIMH budget. More specific information about the FY 2010 funding strategy can be found on the NIMH website. This year we are managing two separate budgets: our regular “base” appropriation and the funds from the Recovery Act. In terms of our base funding, we are on track to fund 590 new and competing research project grants, which is above the mean of the past 5 years. NIMH has been able to fund most grants in the top 15th percentile and most early stage investigators within the top 25th percentile. 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. In the two years of funding, NIMH supported close to 400 projects via the Recovery Act, either as new awards or supplements to existing grants. We are also mindful of the realities of the post-Recovery Act budget constraints. On February 1, 2010, the FY 2011 President’s Budget Request was submitted to Congress. The FY 2011 request for NIH is $32.239 billion, an increase of $1.0 billion, or 3.2 percent above the FY 2010 level. The FY 2011 request for NIMH is $1.540 billion, an increase of $50.6 million, or 3.39 percent over the FY 2010 level. At this point, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have held hearings on the President’s budget request for NIH, but no further Congressional action has occurred. We do not know if the final appropriated budget will resemble the President’s request, nor when the appropriation will be determined. We do know that if there is a large increase in applications next year, when Recovery Act funding has ceased, we will be challenged to maintain the current success rate of 21 percent.
Although we do not have an FY 2011 budget yet, we do have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (better known as the Health Care Reform law). This new law calls for increases in comparative effectiveness research and for the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN)—a major initiative to advance the development of new treatments and cures by reducing barriers between laboratory discoveries and clinical trials. The NIH Director is authorized to spend $500 million per year to promote innovation in technologies supporting the research, development, and production of high-need cures, including the development of medical products and behavioral therapies, consistent with many of the recommendations of the recent workgroup report of the NAMHC on interventions. No funds have been appropriated specifically for CAN, as of yet.
NIH has recently proposed new rules to strengthen federal oversight of financial conflict of interest. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF File, 25 pages) was published on May 21, 2010, with an open public comment period that closed on August 19, 2010. The Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Financial Conflict of Interest outlined a rigorous approach to investigator disclosure, management of conflict by universities, and federal oversight. NIH is committed to preserving the public’s trust that the research supported by NIH is conducted without bias and with the highest scientific and ethical standards. Through the strengthening of the existing regulations on managing financial conflicts of interest, NIH is taking a rigorous approach to managing the essential relationships between the government, federally funded research institutions, and the private sector.
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.
Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Opportunity Network (OppNet)
OppNet is a trans-NIH initiative to expand the agency's funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research (basic-BSSR). NIH launched this initiative on November 18, 2009. NIMH, along with all other NIH Institutes and Centers is participating in this five-year initiative.
In FY 2010, Recovery Act funds were provided from the NIH Office of the Director, and base appropriation funds were provided from the Office of AIDS Research, for a total of nearly $11 million in OppNet funding. OppNet sponsored five initiatives through a series of one-year awards (four different types of competing revision applications and mentored career development awards for mid- to senior-level scientists). The objective in the first year was to stimulate interest in basic-BSSR, and to position the field to respond to targeted Requests for Application (RFAs) in specific scientific areas in the future. NIMH grantees received a total of 16 awards across these various programs. In the future, OppNet funding will be provided jointly by all NIH Institutes and Centers.
After an intensive period of strategic planning and engagement with the extramural research community, OppNet has recently announced a total of eight new initiatives for support of basic-BSSR research in the coming fiscal year (FY 2011). These initiatives provide support for both short and longer term research activities spanning a range of areas, including: psychosocial stress; sleep; behavior maintenance; self-regulation; and, the social environment.
In addition to these funding activities, OppNet will continue its dialogue with the extramural community by hosting a meeting on October 28-29, 2010 that will solicit feedback on what the most important scientific opportunities for OppNet to pursue are in basic-BSSR. This meeting will be held in Washington DC, is free and open to all. See the OppNet website for registration information.
NIH Common Fund Programs and Initiatives
The NIH Common Fund was enacted into law by Congress through the 2006 NIH Reform Act to support cross-cutting, trans-NIH programs that require participation by at least two NIH Institutes and Centers or would otherwise benefit from strategic planning and coordination. To date, the Common Fund has been used to support a series of short term, exceptionally high impact, trans-NIH programs known collectively as the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. As the Common Fund grows, and research opportunities and needs emerge in the scientific community, the portfolio of programs supported by the Common Fund will likely evolve to encompass a diverse set of trans-NIH programs, although the NIH Roadmap is likely to remain a central component.
Two new projects are being co-led by NIMH. The HMO Research Collaboratory (led by NIA and NIMH) will be developing a research partnership with large practice organizations to support mega-epidemiology and practical trials research. The Health Economics project (led by NIA and NIMH) will be supporting several pathways of research to inform the implementation of health care reform. The following projects have already yielded important scientific opportunities for NIMH:
- Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) (NIMH Program Leads: Su Koester, Ph.D. and Roger Little, Ph.D.)
Through the GTEx program, correlations between genotype and tissue-specific gene expression levels will help identify regions of the genome that influence whether and how much a gene is expressed. GTEx will help researchers to understand how changes in DNA sequence that give rise to expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) affect gene expression in different normal human tissues. It will be a resource database and tissue bank for many studies in the future. Potential scale up of this two-year pilot program will be based on successful completion of the pilot goals.
- Human Microbiome Project (HMP) (NIMH Program Lead: Roger Little, Ph.D.)
The HMP is a five-year, $157 million project with goal of characterizing the microbiome of healthy adults, correlating changes of the microbiome in health and disease, and stimulating additional support for microbiome research in disease research. Project accomplishments include continued quality assurance standards development for genomic and metagenomic sequence data; an initial list of microbial strains for sequencing; an institutional review board-approved clinical sampling protocol; establishment of an interim Data Coordination Center (http://www.hmpdacc.org/); and, gathering of the first HMP Research Network Meeting with principal investigators from all HMP-funded grants.
- Epigenomics (NIMH Program Leads: Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D., Michelle Freund, Ph.D., Mike Huerta, Ph.D., Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., Roger Little, Ph.D., Aleksandra Vicentic, Ph.D.)
The Epigenomics Program studies the role of epigenetic regulation of the genome as it pertains to health and susceptibility to disease. Specifically, the program focuses on mechanisms that control stem cell differentiation into various tissues and how epigenomic marks contribute to the biological response to endogenous and exogenous stimuli that result in disease. The Program is creating an international committee; developing standardized platforms, procedures, and reagents for epigenomics research; conducting demonstration projects to evaluate how epigenomes change and their role in disease; developing new technologies for single-cell epigenomic analysis and in vivo imaging of epigenetic activity; and, creating a public data resource to accelerate the application of epigenomics approaches.
- Molecular Libraries Program (MLP) (NIMH Program Leads: Linda Brady, Ph.D., Ingrid Li, Ph.D.)
The MLP is a full-scale production program emphasizing the generation of high quality probes and biological-chemical data for high-value targets. The long-term goal of the MLP is to develop new small molecule probes that will be used as research tools, with the expectation that increased knowledge and wider understanding of probe chemistry will accelerate the development of new therapeutics. These research tools may aid in the identification and analysis of protein function, signaling and metabolic pathways, and cellular function important to the maintenance of human health. The Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN) is a collaborative research network with complementary abilities that will enable screening of diverse types of assays and generation of chemical probes to address a wide range of biological opportunities. As of July 2010, MLPCN accomplishments (FY 2005-2010) include 375 screening projects assigned to the centers, 282 screening projects completed, 175 probes produced, 95 leads in preclinical development outside of the MLP, 304 direct publications from the centers, and 845 indirect publications. The Small Molecule Respository (MLSMR) compound collection has reached 349,630 and growing.
- Rapid Access to Interventional Development (RAID) (NIMH Program Lead: Jamie Driscoll)
The RAID program provides full development services for small molecules, peptides, oligonucleotides, and gene vectors, and all (except manufacturing and formulation) biologics. The program has resulted in at least six initial new drug applications (INDs),including one for mental health relevant disorders: a vasopressin receptor antagonist for depression. Recently, an additional mental-health–relevant project was funded, and a seminar was held for another. Both address potential schizophrenia treatments.
- The Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) (NIMH Program Leads: Mike Huerta, Ph.D., Lois Winsky, Ph.D.)
The LINCS program aims to support the high-throughput collection and integrative computational analysis of informative molecular and cellular signatures generated in response to a variety of perturbing agents, including small interfering RNA (siRNAs) and small bioactive molecules, which are applied to a set of carefully selected cell types. Two high-scoring pilot center applications in response to the Large Scale Production of Perturbagen-Induced Cellular Signatures (U54) RFA have been approved for funding by the NHGRI National Advisory Council. Two additional RFAs have been released aimed at informatics and data analysis tool development, and experimental technology development. Applications are due February 2011.
- Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) (NIMH Program Leads: Shelli Avenevoli, Ph. D., Bettina Osborn, Ph.D.)
An RFA was issued earlier this year to establish the groundwork for a unified science of behavior change that capitalizes on emerging basic science, to accelerate investigation of common mechanisms of behavior change applicable across a broad range of health-related behaviors. The focus of this RFA is based on the outcome of a June 2009 workshop. It is expected that this collaborative approach—linking basic science research on mechanisms of change to real world contexts—will advance several goals, including the identification of the optimal targets and time points for intervention; identification of common mechanisms of change related either to multiple independent health behaviors or bundled (i.e., commonly co-occurring) behaviors; modification of interventions to particular at-risk individuals or groups; and, identification of individuals or groups most likely to benefit from specific behavior change interventions. Applications have been reviewed and a funding plan has been submitted.
- Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSA) (NIMH Program Leads: Roger Little, Ph.D., Chris Sarampote, Ph.D., Steve Zalcman, M.D.)
Launched in 2006, the purpose of the CTSA Program is to assist research institutions to forge a uniquely transformative, novel, and integrative academic home for clinical and translational science that has the consolidated resources to captivate, advance, and nurture a cadre of well-trained multi- and inter-disciplinary investigators and research teams; create an incubator for innovative research tools and information technologies; and, synergize multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary clinical and translational research and researchers to catalyze the application of new knowledge and techniques to clinical practice at the front lines of patient care. Nine new CTSAs have been announced for 2010, bringing the total number of awards to 55.
NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research
The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is a framework to enhance cooperative activities among 16 NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices that support research on the nervous system. The Blueprint aims to develop research tools, resources, and training and to make them available to the neuroscience community. In 2009, the Blueprint Grand Challenge projects were launched to catalyze research with the potential to transform our basic understanding of the brain and our approaches to treating brain disorders. The Human Connectome Project (HCP) will use state-of-the-art neuroimaging technology to explore the connectivity of the healthy adult human brain. By systematically collecting brain imaging data from hundreds of subjects, the HCP will yield insight into how brain connections underlie brain function, and will open up new lines of inquiry for human neuroscience. In addition to brain imaging, the HCP will involve collection of DNA samples, demographic information and behavioral data from the subjects. Together, these data could hint at how brain connectivity is influenced by genetics and the environment, and in turn, how individual differences in brain connectivity relate to individual differences in behavior.
A second Grand Challenge project, the Neurotherapeutics Initiative will support early stage drug development for central nervous system diseases.The Blueprint established the Neurotherapeutics Network to bridge the gap in drug development between academic and industry research. Basic researchers often lack the resources to develop novel therapeutics strategies to the point where they can attract industry interest. Biopharmaceutical companies often hesitate to invest in neurotherapeutics development because there are few clinically validated targets or strategies, there is a long track record of failure, and many nervous system disorders affect relatively small populations. The Network offers neuroscience researchers a "virtual pharma" to develop promising hit compounds from chemical optimization through Phase I clinical testing. Successful applicants will receive: funding to conduct biological testing access to a full range of industry-style drug development, and, intellectual property rights to drug candidates. The initial set of applications for this initiative has been received and is under review.
Peer Review Enhancement
The NIH Enhancing Peer Review Initiative has moved into the “Continuous Review of Peer Review” phase. NIH has formed a Peer Review Evaluation Group charged with assessing the cumulative outcomes of the concurrent changes.This phase began with extensive surveying of applicants, reviewers, Advisory Council members, and NIH staff (review and program staff).
Some of the feedback received to date has indicated that the bullet points within the summary statement are not always informative. As such, for applications under review for the January 2011 council, reviewers are being instructed to write a paragraph summarizing the factors that informed their Overall Impact score. The use of bullets will be eliminated for Overall Impact on the reviewer critique template. Reviewers are being instructed to justify comments and scores and not simply cut and paste from comments on other parts of the application.
Another source of confusion has been the relationship between the criterion scores and the overall impact score. To help improve understanding, a message about criterion scores will be added to all summary statements of discussed application assigned to January 2011 Council. The message states, “The overall impact/priority scores is calculated after discussion of an application by averaging the overall scores (1-9) given by all voting reviewers on the committee and multiplying by 10. The criterion scores are submitted prior to the meeting by the individual reviewers assigned to an application, and are not discussed specifically at the review meeting or calculated into the overall impact/priority score.” Reviewers will continue receiving instructions to update their criterion score(s) during or after the review meeting, if their assessment of any criterion has changed.
In an effort to achieve greater consistency across Scientific Review Officers, the Review Policy Committee has assembled a working group to develop a best practices document for review staff on writing a Resume and Summary of Discussion. The goal of this working group is to train review staff on the essential items to be included in a Resume and Summary of Discussion and to obtain consistency in review regardless of the locus of review.
Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison
The NIMH Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison issued a solicitation on August 16, 2010 announcing openings for its Outreach Partnership Program (OPP) for 2011. Outreach Partners will be selected for the District of Columbia and the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming. OPP is a national initiative that supports organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to disseminate science-based information on mental health, conduct local outreach and education, and promote NIH and NIMH clinical trials. Outreach Partners receive an annual $7,500 award for a total of three years, sponsored participation in an annual conference, publications, and networking opportunities with other state and national organizations. The current solicitation promotes targeted outreach addressing mental disorders in childhood and adolescence, and mental health disparities. OPP is a cornerstone of NIMH’s efforts to engage the community to ensure that the Institute’s research agenda meets the needs of an increasingly diverse population. The Solicitation is available on the NIMH OPP website. Proposals are due October 5, 2010.
Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS)
The Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) (R01) RFA was reissued for FY 2010 and NIMH funded 12 early stage investigators. This program supports highly creative and promising junior scientists who are committed to enabling NIMH to fulfill its mission with innovative, ground-breaking, and potentially risky research approaches to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses. For FY 2010, the BRAINS program focused on the research priorities and gap areas identified in the NIMH Strategic Plan. The BRAINS RFA has been reissued for FY 2011. The FY10 Awardees include:
- Sonia Jane Bishop, Ph.D. (University of California Berkeley): Neurocognitive Mechanisms of Trait Vulnerability to Human Anxiety
- Pearl H. Chiu, Ph.D. (Baylor College of Medicine): Neuroimaging Major Depression and Nicotine Dependence on Axes of Valuation
- Pietro Cottone, Ph.D. (Boston University Medical Campus): Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Compulsive Eating
- Alex Dranovsky, M.D., Ph.D. (New York State Psychiatric Institute): Mechanisms and Significance of Stem Cell Fate Plasticity in the Adult Hippocampus
- Amit Etkin, M.D., Ph.D. (Stanford University): The Neurobiology of Psychotherapy: Emotional Reactivity and Regulation in PTSD
- Todd D. Gould, M.D. (University of Maryland Baltimore): Suicide Endophenotypes and Molecular Mechanisms of Lithium Action
- Scott A. Langenecker, Ph.D. (University of Michigan at Ann Arbor): Identification of Neurobiological Intermediate Phenotypes in Major Depressive Disorder
- Bo Li, Ph.D., (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory): The Synaptic Circuitry of the Lateral Habenula and Behavioral Depression
- Christopher John Pittenger, M.D., Ph.D. (Yale University): Pathophysiologically Realistic Mouse Models of Neuropsychiatric Disease: Tourette
- Michael Silverstein, M.D., M.P.H. (Boston Medical Center): Preventing Maternal Depression in Head Start
- Nim Tottenham, Ph.D. (University of California Lost Angeles): Longitudinal Examination of Human Amygdala-vmPFC Development
- Zhaolan Zhou, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania): Defining the Epigenetic Architecture Associated with Early-Life Stress
Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration (EUREKA)
The Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration (EUREKA) announcement was re-released in FY 2010, and NIMH funded six grants. These five-year awards are designed to support unconventional, high-risk projects that promise, if successful, to have a transformational impact on their field. The EUREKA RFA has been reissued for 2011 and can be viewed online. For FY 2010, NIMH funded:
- Anna-Liisa Brownell, Ph.D., Francesca Cicchetti, Ph.D. (Massachusetts General Hospital): Targeting Glial mGluR5 in Schizophrenia
- Hollis T. Cline, Ph.D. (The Scripps Research Institute): Trans-Synaptic Transport of Endogenous Proteins to Label Circuits
- Stavros Lomvardas, Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco): Insight into MeCP2 function raises therapeutic possibilities for Rett Syndrome
- Terunaga Nakagawa, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego): Isolation of ribonucleic acids that are attached to the neuronal membrane
- Fred W. Sabb, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles): High-Throughput Cognitive Phenomics: A Novel Framework for Psychiatric GWAS
- Rosalind A. Segal, M.D., Ph.D. (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute): New approaches to local translation: spaceSTAMP of proteins synthesized in axons
NIH Meetings of Interest
NIH Workshop on Nonverbal School-Aged Children with Autism
In April 2010, NIH convened a multidisciplinary workshop to discuss the state of the empirical knowledge about, and research opportunities regarding, the substantial subgroup of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who have not developed functional verbal language by five years of age. Participants reviewed the current state of scientific knowledge, highlighted critical gaps in our knowledge, and identified research opportunities to address knowledge gaps. A series of presentations and group discussions addressed the three major topics of the workshop, including:
- Who are these children? What do we know about their developmental trajectories?
- How can we assess their skills and knowledge across different domains, with special reference to those abilities relevant to language acquisition?
- What treatments and interventions are effective in improving spoken language and communication in these children (augmentative and non-augmentative methods)?
Closing the Gaps: The Role of Research in Reducing Mental Health Disparities in the U.S.
On May 5, 2010, the Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health (ORDGMH) in the Office of the Director of NIMH convened a meeting of representatives of key federal agencies and thought leaders from a range of fields—including genetics, cultural neuroscience, epidemiology, psychology, clinical psychiatry, and community-based services and intervention research—to discuss novel directions that, if investigated empirically, could foster the reduction of mental health disparities across race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), and geography.
The meeting was structured to allow for substantial discussion. In an introductory presentation, Pamela Collins, M.D., M.P.H., Director of ORDGMH, outlined the overarching issues of the meeting, telescoping from broader patterns of health disparities and the associated economic burden to those in mental health disparities, and proposed a population-based strategy for studying mental health disparities. Four discussion sections covered the following areas: root causes, risk and protective factors, and mechanisms; treatment availability, use, and quality; measuring mental health disparities; and, leveraging partnerships and building systems to assemble evidence and take action. Participants were asked to inform creative approaches to understanding and addressing mental health disparities within these domains. A final discussion section, led by NIMH Deputy Director Philip Wang, M.D., Dr.P.H., addressed how the Institute might shape its research priorities, given the issues in each of the four preceding areas. NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D. led the concluding discussion and concretized the issues raised.
The thematic areas that emerged from the meeting discussion include:
- The need to understand the patterning of health disparities by diagnosis;
- The need to study development, resilience, and sensitive periods during the life course and the associated need for longitudinal studies;
- The need to move from prevalence research to incidence research; the critical roles of context and SES;
- The needs to build on place-based initiatives and to engage communities;
- The imperative to foster trust between researchers and populations across communities;
- The centrality of measurement and standardization and the need for indices of mental health disparities, data tools (e.g., registries), and novel uses of technology;
- The key roles of incarceration and trauma in producing and reproducing mental health disparities;
- The unique research opportunities presented by the economic crisis and health care reform;
- The importance of reducing the stigma and negative language associated with mental illness; and,
- The fundamental need to capitalize on partnerships and forge novel partnerships to strengthen mental health disparities research, as well as its impact and uptake.
Navigating Your Way through a Successful Research Career: An NIMH Workshop for Early Stage Research Investigators
On June 7-8, 2010, ORDGMH sponsored a workshop for early stage research investigators currently supported by Diversity Supplements, to provide the investigators with the tools necessary to continue along the path of competitive research support and the transition to independence. The workshop aimed to instill the importance of producing innovative research within the overall mission of NIMH in these promising early career researchers. Content of the workshop emphasized issues related to grantsmanship and strategies for successfully navigating obstacles and developing potential solutions on the journey to a successful research career.
Workshop Sessions included:
- A roundtable discussion regarding research priorities with representatives from the NIH extramural divisions and the Intramural Research Program;
- NIH Grants 101 for Early Stage Investigators;
- The NIH Grants Review Process;
- Advancing Science and Achieving Independence: Innovation;
- Intervention Development/Adaptation: Points for Consideration;
- Building a Successful Academic Research Career;
- How to Get a Job and Keep It;
- Lessons Learned on the Road to Independence; and
- Writing the History of Your Future.
Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) Annual Meeting
On June 21-22, 2010, NIMH convened the first meeting of the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE). Co-funded by NIMH, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the ACE program comprises both research centers and research networks. Research centers at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, San Diego, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Pittsburgh, Yale University, and the University of Washington, foster interdisciplinary collaborations between teams of specialists, and consist of interdependent and interrelated subprojects focused on major questions about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ACE networks at the University of California, Davis, University of California, Los Angeles, Drexel University, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Wayne State University support researchers at many facilities throughout the country who work together on a single research question. The ACE program supports studies covering a broad range of areas in ASD, including early brain development and functioning, social interactions in infants, rare genetic variants and mutations, genotype-phenotype associations, environmental risk factors and biomarkers, and treatment and intervention.
This first ACE meeting brought together center and network principal investigators, project principal investigators, and data managers, as well as post-doctoral researchers and graduate students in order to share initial findings and discuss research approaches. In addition to overviews from each of the centers and networks, the two-day meeting covered a variety of topics including presentations and discussion of data sharing through the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR), ACE relationships with other ASD research consortia, training and career development of junior investigators, and publicizing ACE research findings to the media and general public.
NIMH Alliance for Research Progress – Summer Meeting
NIMH convened the thirteenth meeting of the NIMH Alliance for Research Progress (the Alliance) on July 23, 2010. The Alliance comprises leaders from organizations that advocate for, and represent, individuals with various forms of mental illness and their families. NIMH brings this group together twice a year to provide participants with the opportunity to learn about scientific advances in mental health research, to discuss important information related to changes in the field, and to engage in direct dialogue with NIMH leadership through which they provide crucial input and feedback for NIMH. It is also an excellent opportunity for them to network among themselves and to discuss common areas of interest.
Dr. Insel delivered a ‘State of the NIMH’ address, which included information on health care reform, mental health parity, and the NIH focus on accelerated development of effective therapeutic interventions. Alliance members also heard presentations on two NIMH signature projects: the U.S. Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service-members (Army STARRS) and the Recovery After Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) study. Presenters also discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the mental health community as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the new activities and initiatives underway in ORDGMH. Speakers included Lisa Colpe, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of the Office of Clinical and Population Epidemiology Research in the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research; Amy Goldstein, Ph.D., Chief of the Child and Adolescent Preventive Intervention Program in the Division of Services and Intervention Research; Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); Pamela Y. Collins, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Director for Special Populations and Director of ORDGMH and the Office of Rural Mental Health Research.
Research Career in Global Mental Health
On July 30, 2010, ORDGMH invited students, post-doctoral trainees, and early stage investigators, as well as researchers, educators, practitioners, and federal government staff to discuss research careers in global mental health. This gathering of trainees and researchers occurred in response to the rapidly growing interest in global mental health as a career option.
Dr. Insel opened the meeting with an overview of how NIH is organized, the agency’s goals, and the specific role of NIMH in funding and supporting mental health research worldwide. Ricardo Araya, Ph.D., M.R.C.Psyc., and Ritzuko Kakuma, Ph.D., provided case examples of global mental health research with policy implications in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively, in their plenary presentations. Dr. Collins, as Director of ORDGMH, outlined career pathways in global mental health, key institutions in the global health arena (e.g., the World Health Organization) and funding opportunities along the path to becoming an independent researcher. An interactive session permitted trainee participants to ask questions on topics ranging from the intricacies of institutional review board approval for cross-national studies, to the challenges of jumpstarting a global mental health research career in comparison to more traditional basic or clinical research career paths. Afternoon sessions focused on mentorship and research funding opportunities. Successful global mental health researchers, training program directors, and representatives from non-governmental organizations described their training and research activities, and advised meeting participants on topics including cultural competence, mentoring, and work-life balance.
The meeting provided an opportunity for young investigators interested in making a transition into global mental health to address their concerns and clarify their expectations, while also enabling NIMH to gain an understanding of the unique professional needs of early career investigators who share an interest in this emerging field. In addition, the meeting laid the groundwork for continuous dialogue, mentorship, and career development as NIMH seeks to build a pipeline of researchers to tackle the unique challenges of global mental health through innovative research.
Child Maltreatment and Trauma: Integrating Biological, Cognitive, and Social Trajectories of Development.
This workshop, held August 4-5, 2010 in Bethesda, MD, brought together investigators from the neuroscience, developmental and clinical fields to discuss the mental health outcomes of early maltreatment and abuse and how collaboration and integration across research groups might fill critical knowledge gaps and move the field forward. Topics of discussion included challenges in conducting translational child maltreatment research; the behavioral outcomes, neurocircuitry, neurocognition and genetics of maltreatment; and, the integration of scientific approaches to develop new interventions for maltreated children.
Informatics for Autism Research:Community-Wide Solutions
On August 26-27, 2010, NIMH, Autism Speaks, and the Simons Foundation, which together compose the Autism Informatics Consortium, convened a workshop entitled, "Informatics for Autism Research: Community-Wide Solutions," at the Neuroscience Center in Rockville, MD. The workshop's purpose was to enhance the informatics environment for the ASD research community through harmonization of the major platforms supported by these organizations, via their respective data repository systems: the NIH National Database for Autism Research (NDAR), the Autism Genetics Resource Exchange, the SFARI Base, and others). Participants included ASD researchers, informatics experts, and members of the Autism Informatics Consortium.
This meeting was an important step in the ongoing effort to develop common language and common approaches for ASD research data (data quality standards, etc.), informatics technology (federation standards, etc.), and ASD research practices (common measures, instrumentation standards, etc.). For each of these three areas, the 30 invited participants identified short- and medium-term priorities, defined processes and methods to pursue those priorities, and established timelines and ways to measure progress. Key products from the workshop will be rolled out to the ASD research community at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in May 2011. Over the course of the next several years, members of the ASD research community will be able to obtain access to much of the community's data and tools through NDAR and its sister platforms, allowing ASD research to become the first area of integrative biomedicine to adopt the paradigm of community science. This workshop will have been pivotal in that transformation.
- David A. Baker, Ph.D. of Marquette University received the 2010 FREEDMAN AWARD on July 30, 2010. The Freedman award is issued annually by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD) and is an honorary distinction presented to NARSAD Young Investigators who have distinguished themselves through outstanding basic science research. The award was established in 1998 to honor the late Daniel X. Freedman, M.D., a pioneer in biological psychiatry.
- James Coan, Ph.D. and Elizabeth A. Kensinger, Ph.D. each received one of the inaugural Janet Taylor Spence Awards for Transformative Early Career Contributions at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) meeting in Boston, MA in May 2010. As described by APS, “The award recognizes the creativity and innovative work of promising scientists who represent the bright future ahead for psychological science.”
- NIMH-supported investigators Lily Jan, Ph.D. (NIMH MERIT awardee) and Yuh-Nung Jan, Ph.D. were awarded the Scolnick Prize on May 28, 2010. This award is given by the McGovern Institute and recognizes outstanding advances in the field of neuroscience. The Jans received the prize this year for their pioneering studies on peptide neurotransmitters, potassium channels, and developmental neuroscience.
- NIMH-funded researcher Ann Kurth, Ph.D., C.N.M. received a Gates Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for Innovative Global Health Research on May 10, 2010 from the Gates Foundation. Her grant will examine ways to enhance innate vaginal defenses to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition. Dr. Kurth is the Director of Global Health Initiatives and Associate Professor of Epidemiology Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems at New York University College of Nursing.
- Rob Malenka, M.D. (NIMH MERIT awardee) received the Patricia Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Cognitive Neuroscience Research by NARSAD. A Goldman-Rakic Prize is awarded yearly by NARSAD for “excellence in neurobiological research at the cellular, physiological, or behavioral levels that may lead to a greater understanding of the underlying psychiatric or neurological disease.”
- Rob Malenka, M.D. and Roger Nicoll, M.D. (NIMH MERIT awardees) shared the Pasarow Award for Extraordinary Accomplishment in Medical Research – Neuropsychiatry with Charles Stevens, M.D., Ph.D. of the Salk Institute. The Pasarow Award in Neuropsychiatry is one of three prizes given yearly by the Pasarow Foundation for distinguished accomplishment in basic and/or clinical research in order to increase public awareness of vital areas of investigation.
- Willard G. Manning, Ph.D. Professor in the Harris School of Public Policy and the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago received the 2010 Victor R. Fuchs Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Field of Health Economics. This award is presented by the American Society of Health Economists biennially. Dr. Manning‘s empirical and methodological scholarly contributions to the economics of mental health significantly enhanced our understanding of consumer demand for mental health services through private health insurance.
- Donald W. Pfaff, PhD., Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., and Thomas Insel, M.D. shared the Foundation Ipsen Prize in Neural Plasticity, presented at the seventh Forum of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) in Amsterdam on July 4, 2010. The French foundation presents the award to researchers who publish remarkable, pioneering studies.
- Thomas Südhof, M.D. shared the 2010 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience with Richard Scheller, Ph.D. and James E. Rothman, Ph.D. The Kavli prize honors scientists whose discoveries have dramatically expanded human understanding in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The three scientists were recognized for their work revealing the precise molecular basis of the transfer of signals between nerve cells in the brain.
- Anne Teitelman, Ph.D., C.R.N.P., F.A.A.N.P. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and recognized at the 2010 National Conference held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona from June 23-27, 2010. Her current NIMH-funded research focuses on developing an HIV/partner abuse prevention intervention for adolescent girls who attend family planning clinics. Dr. Teitelman also received the Yale University School of Nursing’s Distinguished Alumna Award to be conferred on October 2, 2010 at the Yale School of Nursing Annual Alumnae/i Banquet as part of a Reunion 2010 conference, The 21st Century Practitioner: Staying Relevant in a Fast Changing World.
NIMH Awards and Honors
- Amy Goldstein, Ph.D., Lauren Hill, Ph.D., Jane Pearson, Ph.D., and Joel Sherrill, Ph.D., of the Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR) were part of trans-NIH Emergency Medical group that received the 2010 NIH Director’s Award in recognition of success in engaging the academic community in identifying the opportunities and challenges of research in an emergency setting.
- Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., of the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science (DNBBS) received an NIH Director’s Award on July 15, 2010 in recognition of his outstanding service to NIMH in support of advancing genomic research on mental illness.
- NIMH intramural scientist Howard Nash, M.D., Ph.D. was honored for 40 years of contributions to genetic research on August 9, 2010 with the Nash Symposium, including trainees and colleagues from his distinguished career. During a very notable and productive research career, Dr. Nash has distinguished himself as a scientist dedicated to rigorous and intellectually challenging questions focused on the molecular neurobiological basis of the response to general anesthesia. Dr. Nash’s sound and thoughtful advice, and his eminently pragmatic approach to both science and lab management have extended beyond his committee work to a number of tenure-track investigators who have sought his counsel. Dr. Nash received the NIMH Director’s Merit Award for his outstanding scientific leadership and invaluable guidance in shaping the future direction of science in the NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP).
- Daniel Pine, M.D. received a NIH Director’s Award on July 15, 2010 for his dedication to the cause of understanding the etiological factors in pediatric anxiety and depression. Dr. Pine is a leading investigator in the neurobiology of mental disorders that manifest as anxiety in children in IRP. His work demonstrates that specific pathological features of social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder and bipolar mood disorder are already active in childhood, and that early treatment of these conditions can ameliorate their effects by reducing childhood anxiety. Dr. Pine’s research to identify a neurobiological signature for diagnostic categorization for specific anxiety disorders and depression has the potential to inform early detection and new treatments for these disorders in pediatric populations.
- Dietmar Plenz, Ph.D., also of IRP, received the NIH Director’s Award on July 15, 2010 for his outstanding progress elucidating the domains of complex systems in neuroscience and physics. Dr. Plentz is a highly innovative and dedicated tenured scientist who has consistently been at the forefront of the fields of cortical-striatal physiology and neuronal systems modeling.
NIMH Staff News
- In July 2010, after a national search, Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., A.B.P.P. was named the Director of DSIR. Dr. Heinssen previously served as the Deputy Director of DSIR and the Acting Chief of DSIR’s Adult Treatment and Preventive Intervention Research Branch. He is the NIMH Science Officer for the multi-site North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study and NIMH Study Director for the RAISE study and for Army STARRS. Dr. Heinssen obtained his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Catholic University of America and completed a clinical fellowship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Prior to joining NIMH in 1999, Dr. Heinssen worked for 12 years as a mental health practitioner and clinical researcher at the Chestnut Lodge Hospital and Research Institute; during this period he developed several science-based, multi-disciplinary treatment programs for persons with schizophrenia in inpatient, partial hospital, residential, and community outpatient settings. He is the founder and past president of the Schizophrenia Special Interest Group within the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology. Outside of his duties at NIMH, Dr. Heinssen is a commissioned officer in the Maryland Army National Guard and a Disaster Mental Health Volunteer with the American Red Cross.
- Suad Kapetanovic, M.D. has joined the NIMH IRP Office of the Clinical Director. Dr. Kapetanovic is a psychiatrist from the University of Southern California. He graduated from the University of Zagreb in Croatia and did his residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Utah. At the University of Southern California, he ran a mental health service in the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Center for Infectious Diseases and Virology, a program that successfully integrates clinical care for patients with HIV with state-of-the-art scientific research. Dr. Kapetanovic will be working with the DC Partnership for HIV/AIDS Progress (DC PFAP) to help optimize access to evidence-based clinical protocols and intramural protocols that will aim to expand knowledge on psychiatric aspects of HIV/AIDS. He will also see patients through the Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Service at the NIH Clinical Center, and serve as the medical consultant to the NIMH Division of AIDS Research.
- Nicole Ma has joined DNBBS as a Scientific Program Analyst. She has in-depth experience in coordination of Material Transfer Agreements to implement the transfer of data and research materials between NIH and academy centers, and implementation of intellectual property and data sharing policies which are critical to two major programs, the Molecular Libraries (ML) High-throughput Screening (HTS) Assay Program, and the NIMH Genetics Repository.
- Varda Shoham, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona has joined the Division of Adult Translational Research (DATR) on a one- to two-year sabbatical appointment. Dr. Shoham received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Tel Aviv University, and has spent most of her career at the University of Arizona. She is widely regarded for her studies of empirically validated treatments, and has conducted extensive research in methods for translating interventions that have shown efficacy in the laboratory to real-world applications where a variety of site, therapist, and community variables have to be taken into account. She is a past president of the Academy of Clinical Science and the North America Chapter of the Society for Psychotherapy Research. At NIMH, Dr. Shoham will contribute her expertise in working with program staff on such topics as the translation of successful, small-scale efficacy studies to larger effectiveness trials; methods of trial design, such as adaptive designs that are effective in real-world settings; and, ways to develop viable and feasible approaches to personalized care in the context of large-scale effectiveness trials.
- Michael Vogel, Ph.D. has been recruited to join the Office of Research Training and Career Development in DNBBS as a Scientific Program Manager. Dr. Vogel comes to NIMH from the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he was an Associate Professor. He has research interests in neurodevelopment, neuroinflammation and mental disorders.He was an active member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Maryland.
- Lisa Nichols, Ph.D. has joined the Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications (OSPPC) as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Prior to this fellowship, Dr. Nichols completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Karen Berman, M.D. in IRP. Her policy interests include global mental health, increasing the public health impact of scientific research, and science education.
- Jean Griffin Baum, who has been the Associate Director for Information Dissemination and Communications Technology in DSIR for the past 10 years, retired from federal service on September 3, 2010. Ms. Baum's main focus has been on developing and managing clinical trials information and dissemination projects related to NIMH multi-site studies overseen by the DSIR Clinical Trials Operations and Biostatistics Unit. She plans to be an independent consultant for a variety of health information and dissemination activities as well as pursuing other personal interests.
- Marilyn Andersen retired from federal service on July 2, 2010 after a 43-year career with the Institute. Marilyn was the Grants Program Specialist for DSIR and was responsible for handling all grants budget issues for the Division.
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|
|Coop. Clin. Res||0||490||5||1,343||5||1,833|
|Res. Mgmt. & Supp||245||62,383||15||7,903||260||70,286|
Attachment 1 - Table 2 of 3
|FY 2010 Estimate|
|Coop. Clin. Res||0||497||0||0||0||497|
|Res. Mgmt. & Supp||250||64,428||13||8,041||263||72,469|
|% Over Prior Year||2.7%||2.3%||2.7%|
Attachment 1 - Table 3 of 3
|FY 2011 President's Budget|
|Coop. Clin. Res||0||512||0||0||0||512|
|Res. Mgmt. & Supp||238||67,649||13||8,443||251||76,092|
|% Over Prior Year||3.4%||3.2%||3.4%|
FY 2011 Senate Mark
(Dollars in Thousands)
|FY 2010 Enacted||FY 2011|
% over 10
% over 10
|OD Exclude RM||1,176,844||658,849||706,951||4.13%||11.73%||48,102|
|Subtotal w/ Type 1 Diabetes||31,154,871||32,157,237||32,157,237||3.22%||3.22%||0|
|Total Labor/HHS BA||31,233,988||32,235,671||32,236,354||3.21%||3.21%||683|
|Less Global HIV/AIDS||-300,000||-300,000||-300,000||0.00%||0.00%||0|
|Plus NLM Prog. Eval||8,200||8,200||8,200||0.00%||0.00%||0|
|Total Program Level||30,942,188||31,943,871||31,944,554||3.24%||3.24%||683|
1/ Includes Type 1 Diabetes $150 M
2/ Includes Global AIDS $300 M in all columns