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Director’s Report to the National Advisory Mental Health Council - September 19, 2008


I am pleased to welcome members of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) and other participants and guests to our 219th Council meeting. Since our last meeting in May, we have made progress on several fronts, which I will share with you in this report. Most important is the release of a new NIMH Strategic Planwhich will guide the Institute over the next five years. But first an update on NIH-wide activities:

NIH-Wide Update

There are three major areas across NIH that merit a review of recent progress. First, we are just completing a year long assessment of peer review, and second, the NIH Roadmap and Neuroscience Blueprint have important new programs. Finally, NIMH is involved in several other multi-institute efforts of note.

NIH Peer Review
As I discussed with you at our last meeting, NIH has been deeply involved in an assessment of our peer review system. We discussed some of the findings from the diagnostic phase of this effort and we talked about the process of implementation. A Peer Review Oversight Committee (PROC) and three subgroups consisting of NIH program, review, grants management and evaluation staff have developed an initial implementation timeline for enhancing peer review. The recommendations being implemented are based on the result of the diagnostic phase and significant dialogue with both the internal and external communities regarding enhancements to the review system. I view these enhancements as progress towards ensuring the continuation of NIH’s world renowned peer review system. Although the subgroups are continuing to work out specific details of the implementation plans, I want to share with you the first of the preliminary implementation plans for the 2009 through 2010 calendar years as follows:

Priority Area 1 – Engage the Best Reviewers

  • Improve Reviewer Retention: In 2009, new reviewers will be given additional flexibility regarding their tour of duty, and other efforts will be undertaken to improve retention of standing review members.
  • Recruit the Best Reviewers: A toolkit, incorporating best practices for recruiting reviewers, will be made available to all ICs in 2009.
  • Enhance Reviewer Training: In spring 2009, training will be available to reviewers and SROs related to the changes in peer review.
  • Allow Flexibility through Virtual Reviews: Pilots will be conducted in 2009 on the feasibility of using high-bandwidth support for review meetings to provide reviewers greater flexibility and alternatives for in-person meetings.

Priority Area 2 – Improve the Quality and Transparency of Review

  • Improve Scoring Transparency and Scale: Review of criteria-based scoring on a1 to 7 scale commences in May 2009. Reviewers will provide feedback through scores and critiques for each criterion in a structured summary statement.
  • Provide Scores for Streamlined Applications: In 2009, streamlined applications will receive a preliminary score.
  • Shorten and Restructure Applications: Shorter (12-page research plan) R01 applications (with other activity codes scaled appropriately) will be restructured to align with review criteria for January 2010 receipt dates.

Priority Area 3 – Ensure Balanced and Fair Reviews Across Scientific Fields and Career Stages, and Reduce Administrative Burden

  • Fund the Best Science Earlier and Reduce Need for Resubmissions: To ensure that the largest number of high quality and meritorious applications receive funding earlier and to improve system efficiency, NIH is considering separate percentiling of new and resubmitted applications and permitting one amended application.
  • Review Like Applications Together: NIH is establishing an Early Stage Investigator (ESI) designation. In 2009, NIH will evaluate clustering ESI applications for review. The same approach will be considered for clinical research applications.

NIH Roadmap – Selected Updates
The NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, launched in 2004, is a series of initiatives designed to address fundamental knowledge gaps, develop transformative tools and technologies, and foster innovative approaches to complex problems. Funded through the NIH Common Fund, these programs cut across the missions of individual NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) and are intended to accelerate the translation of research to improvements in public health.In collaboration with all NIH ICs, the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives (OPASI) oversees programs funded by the Common Fund. A full summary of Roadmap activities can be found online . Here I will review a few highlights especially relevant to NIMH.

Roadmap 1.0 The original Roadmap projects from 2003 are undergoing mid-course reviews and, in some cases, transition out of the Roadmap incubator or, in other cases, adjustment in scale and scope. One of the largest Roadmap efforts is the Molecular Libraries program which is led by NHGRI and NIMH. This program has just entered a new, production phase.
Molecular Libraries
NIH Roadmap Molecular Libraries Program Team Leader: Linda Brady, NIMH
Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network Co-Leaders: Ingrid Li, NIMH; Carson Loomis, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
On September 1, 2008, the NIH Roadmap implemented the Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN), the second phase of the Molecular Libraries Program which first began in 2004. In the new phase, a network of nine centers—funded at approximately $70 million annually over the four-year production phase—will use high tech methods to screen a library of more than 300,000 small molecules maintained in the program’s Molecular Libraries Small Molecule Repository. Data generated by the screening is available to the public through PubChem , a database created and managed by NIH’s National Library of Medicine. The network is designed to increase the pace of development and use of chemical (small molecule) probes, which have become invaluable tools for exploring biologic processes and for developing new therapies for disease.

Roadmap 1.5 Two projects funded by Roadmap 1.5 are soliciting projects relevant to NIMH.
The NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Program focuses on researching the origins of health and susceptibility to disease that are, in part, the result of epigenetic regulation of the genetic blueprint. This program will transform biomedical research by developing comprehensive reference epigenome maps and developing new technologies for comprehensive epigenomic analyses.
In July, the Program issued a Request for Applications (RFA), “Epigenomics of Human Health and Disease ” . This initiative aims to transform the understanding of epigenetic contributions to human disease. Studies will characterize global (epigenome-wide) marks or features, and their possible interactions, in cells and tissues that are representative of various human disease states, conditions, or processes. Rather than solely advancing knowledge this RFA is intended to transform or change the fundamental understanding of human health and disease by creating new paradigms for conceptualizing health and illness.

Human Microbiome Project
The NIH Roadmap initiated the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) to generate resources enabling comprehensive characterization of the human microbiome and analysis of its role in human health and disease. The NIH HMP continues the practice established by the Human Genome Project of international collaboration to create a comprehensive and publicly available data set.
Recent RFAs include “Development of New Technologies Needed for Studying the Human Microbiome,” issued under the R01 and R21 grant mechanisms. The goal of this RFA is to develop new and improved technologies for obtaining samples of individual microbial isolates or strains suitable for complete genomic sequence analysis in order to expand the number of “reference” microbial genome sequences.

Roadmap 2.0: Transformational Grants and GTEx
The most recent phase of the NIH Roadmap will commit $25M to transformational grants in several key areas: the science of behavior change, mitochondriome, pain, pharmacogenomics, protein capture, and 3D tissue models. In addition, NIMH and NHGRI are leading a new Roadmap initiative in the genetics of tissue expression (GTEx). This effort will relate genomic sequence variation to variation in mRNA expression within 30 tissues taken from a large population. The purpose of this effort is to provide a database of functional variants in the human genome. We will use 2009 to establish the database and complete pilot studies in 2010-2011.

NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research
The Neuroscience Blueprint  is a cooperative effort among the 16 NIH ICs that support neuroscience research. By pooling resources and expertise, the Blueprint supports the development of new tools, training opportunities, and other resources to assist neuroscientists in both basic and clinical research. The Blueprint has addressed specific themes: in 2007, neurodegeneration; in 2008, neurodevelopment; and for 2009, neuroplasticity. Since May, several activities under the Blueprint have moved forward:

The Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse (NITRC)
This Blueprint initiative can help researchers find and compare neuroimaging resources for fMRI and related structural analyses for potential use in their research. NITRC collects and points to standardized information about neuroimaging tools—including popular tools as well as non-traditional or cross-discipline tools, and less well known online tools—making the task of finding and comparing them easier than before. The NITRC team searches out relevant research tools to house on their Web site , and encourages user participation, ratings, and reviews to make NITRC a comprehensive source of information for researchers and developers. An active Program Announcement (PAR) is seeking applications to modify and enhance existing tools in NITRC or that are under consideration for inclusion. More information about this funding opportunity is posted online .

K-12 Neuroscience Education Team
Team Leader: James Churchill, NIMH
On August 5–6, the K-12 Neuroscience Education Team convened a workshop that brought together experts in education and curriculum development, as well as scientists and representatives from private and government agencies to discuss potential outreach initiatives. Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Nancy Moreno, science education expert from Baylor University, co-chaired the event. The workshop covered a broad range of topics such as the state of the U.S. educational system, existing neuroscience resources, opportunities to explore, implementation obstacles, and other issues that would likely influence the viability of any Blueprint-supported initiative. Further information about the workshop can be obtained by contacting James Churchill at

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)is a Congressionally mandated committee that advises the Secretary of DHHS on the coordination of autism research. Membership includes five NIH institutes (NIMH, NINDS, NICHD, NIDCD, NIEHS); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Administration on Children and Families, and the Office on Disability, all components of DHHS; several advocacy groups and family members; and an individual diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The NIMH director chairs the IACC. At the July, 2008 meeting, the IACC discussed and adopted changes tothe IACC Draft Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Research. In August 2008, the IACC voted to seek public comment on the revised IACC Draft Strategic Plan  for ASD Research. On behalf of the IACC, NIMH issued aRequest for Information (RFI ) to seek commentson the draft Strategic Plan from ASD stakeholders, such as individuals with ASD and their families, autism advocates, scientists, health professionals, therapists, educators, officials of state and local programs for ASD, and the public at large. Public comments will be received through September 30, 2008. The IACC has formed a workgroup to advise about the budgetary requirements needed to fulfill Strategic Plan research objectives. The IACC will review the workgroup recommendations, as well as a summary of the public comments, at its next meeting on November 21, 2008.

Fragile X Coordinating Group
Fragile X Syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation, occurs when there is a mutation in a single gene called the Fragile X Mental Retardation 1 (FMR1) gene. The same gene is also involved in at least two other similar disorders, Fragile X Tremor Ataxia Syndrome and Premature Ovarian Failure. To coordinate the increasing number of research projects on these disorders and to facilitate collaboration with other federal agencies and advocacy groups for disorders related to the Fragile X gene, five NIH ICs, including NIMH and headed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), formed the NIH Fragile X Research Coordinating Group (FXCG) in the spring of 2007.
In May 2008, a separate group, the Trans-NIH Fragile X Research Coordinating Group—comprising representatives from relevant clinical and research communities, advocates for affected individuals and family members, pertinent federal agencies, and the five NIH ICs that participate in the Fragile X Coordinating Group (FXCG)—convened to develop a research plan for Fragile X Syndrome and related disorders. This meeting was in response to a request from the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations in its report on the FY 2008 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The “Research Plan on Fragile X Syndrome and Associated Disorders” is nearing final completion and will be publicly available in the fall of 2008.

NIMH Update

The NIMH Strategic Plan
NIMH released its new strategic plan in August. This plan, which includes a new vision and mission statement for the Institute, describes the agenda for research in mental illness over the next five years. The plan was developed over a full year of meetings with the Institute and its many stakeholders. Dissemination and implementation of the plan will be a major focus of the next several months, as funding increasingly shifts to the major objectives of the Strategic Plan.

Newly Funded Grants to Note
EUREKA Grants Awarded
Nine NIMH grants are among the first to be funded under NIH’s new EUREKA program (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration). The grants enable investigators to test novel hypotheses or pursue major methodological or technical challenges. The purpose of the initiative is to foster creative, pioneering research projects that may have an unusually high impact on a particular field of science. The NIMH grants will support the following:

  • Paul Brehm, Ph.D., Oregon Health and Science University, will clone and characterize a starfish gene encoding a protein that will provide the first long-term marker of cellular activity in the nervous system and could serve as an indicator of healthy or diseased tissue. Expression of this protein in subgroups of neurons will allow researchers to watch brain activity as it happens, which holds the promise to revolutionize our understanding of neural network function.
  • David Kleinfield, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, will conduct studies to understand how changes in electrical activity in neurons can increase or decrease blood flow. This will strengthen our understanding of the basis of non-invasive imaging techniques such as functional MRI and potentially improve diagnostics to monitor blood flow in the brain.
  • Todd Lencz, Ph.D., Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, will develop new statistical methods to analyze genetic information relating to genetically complex disorders including schizophrenia.
  • Rick Lin, Ph.D., University of Mississippi Medical Center, will define the possible role of disruption of serotonin signaling in the genesis of autism and related developmental disorders.
  • Joshua Ahab Maurer, Ph.D., Washington University, will develop new chemical tools for understanding how neuronal connections are formed in the brain, which will lead to a better understanding of 1) how connections are made in the brain and 2) neurodevelopmental disorders in humans.
  • Andras Nagy, Ph.D., and Hongkui Zeng, Ph.D., Allen Institute for Brain Science, will develop genetically altered mice that can be used to manipulate the expression of genes in well-defined cell populations in the brain. Images of brain sections documenting targeted areas where gene expression has been altered will be available in a publicly accessible database. Development of these tools will provide a major resource to the research community and will have broad uses to understand the development and function of the brain.
  • Bernardo Sabatini, Harvard Medical School, will generate tools to rapidly activate neuropeptide signaling systems and use these to understand how neuropeptides regulate neurons and modulate communication between them in the brain.
  • Yi Eve Sun, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, will use a novel approach to identify the targets of micro RNAs to advance the understanding of how these newly discovered genetic elements regulate neuronal development and function.
  • Michael Tarr, Ph.D., Brown University, will use new methods of functional magnetic resonance imaging to uncover the fundamental principles of visual object recognition and perception that may aid in the creation of more effective treatments for disorders of perception, including autism.

“Signatures” of Errant Gene Expression in Autism Eyed for Diagnostic Test

Researchers led by Louis Kunkel, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston, have launched an effort to detect profiles of gene expression associated with autism that could some day form the basis of a diagnostic test for the disorder. The study is searching for “signatures” in patterns of such expression in autism that could be clues to underlying abnormalities in the machinery that turns genes on and off in response to experience, as the brain is wired up during the first years of life.

New Research to Refine Approaches in Psychotherapy

NIMH is funding seven new projects designed to evaluate, refine and improve psychotherapy-based treatments. Projects range from developing and piloting novel approaches for treating specific mental disorders, to conducting large, multi-site clinical trials to test treatments and treatment combinations for both adults and children. The grantees are:
  • Barbara Stanley, Ph.D., of Columbia University, will use functional brain imaging, behavioral observations and other methods to compare a brief version of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) with a standard medication regimen of antidepressants in terms of effectiveness for treating borderline personality disorder.
  • Shannon Dorsey, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, will develop and pilot test a novel combination of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and an “engagement intervention” for help foster children with mental health problems.
  • Philip Kendall, Ph.D., of Temple University, will evaluate a brief form of CBT (eight weeks vs. the usual 16 weeks) for children agessevento 13 diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
  • Cynthia Battle, Ph.D., of Brown University and Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I, will develop and test a new, family-focused approach to treating postpartum depression and compare it with supportive individual therapy.
  • Elizabeth Twamley, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, will evaluate whether adding a cognitive training component to a typical individual placement support (IPS) program will help people with severe mental illness find and keep employment.
  • Rachel Manber, Ph.D., of Stanford University; Daniel Buysse, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh; and Jack Edinger, Ph.D., of Duke University, will test the effectiveness of combining a brief form of CBT for the treatment of insomnia (CBTI) with existing antidepressant medications for people with major depression who suffer from coexisting insomnia.
  • Michael George Aman, Ph.D., of the Ohio State University; Oscar Bukstein, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh; Robert Findling M.D., of Case Western Reserve University; and Kenneth Gadow, Ph.D., of the State University of New York Stony Brook, will compare the effectiveness of several combinations of treatment for children with severe aggressive and disruptive behavior disorders plus coexisting attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Mice Expressing Human Genes Bred to Help Unravel Mental Disorders

New mouse strains engineered to express human genes related to mental disorders are being developed under a recently-launched grant program, including projects such as:
  • Elizabeth Simpson, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia, building on previous work with “knock-out” mice, will study “knock-in” combinations of suspect human gene variants in an effort to create mouse strains that mimic features of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and aggressive disorders
  • Beverly Koller, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina, will genetically engineer mice to express human gene variants at the center of a controversy in psychiatric genetics.

New Grant Supports Stem Cell-Derived Model of Autism-Related Illness

For the first time, Yi Eve Sun, Ph.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues are developing a test tube model of Rett syndrome, a debilitating autism-like illness, in neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells. The study addresses a crucial gap in understanding the workings of the rare autism spectrum disorder.

New Grant Aims to Overcome Obesity in People with Serious Mental Illness

Researchers at Johns Hopkins led by Gail Daumit, M.D., M.H.S., will test the effectiveness of a promising intervention designed to help people with serious mental illness (SMI) who are overweight or obese lose weight and keep it off.

New NIMH Research to Test Innovative Treatments for Children with ADHD

Two new grants funded by NIMH will focus on novel and innovative approaches to treating children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • L. Eugene Arnold, M.D., and Nicholas Lofthouse, Ph.D., of The Ohio State University, will lead a study on the use of neurofeedback, also called EEG biofeedback, in the context of a computer game, compared with a placebo EEG treatment.
  • James Waxmonsky, M.D., of the University of Buffalo, and colleagues will focus on children with ADHD who have symptoms that resemble those seen in children with bipolar disorder. The researchers plan to test a new psychosocial treatment that uses aspects of ADHD behavioral programs in combination with cognitive-behavioral and psychoeducational therapies for pediatric mood disorders to determine efficacy and safety for this population.

NIMH Funds Research to Find Best Treatments for Children with Autism and ADHD Symptoms

ADHD symptoms are common in children with ASD, but children with ASD often do not respond well to stimulant medications, the conventional treatment for ADHD. NIMH recently funded a study by Benjamin Handen, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh; Tristram Smith, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester; and Michael Aman, Ph.D., of the Ohio State University, and colleagues to assess the safety and effectiveness of two treatments: (1) atomoxetine (also called Strattera), a nonstimulant medication for treating ADHD, and (2) parent management training (PMT), in which parents learn how to use behavioral interventions (another conventional ADHD treatment).

New NIMH Initiatives

NIMH-Administered RFAs

  • Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Returning Combat Veterans in the Community

    NIMH is seeking applications to study the impact of existing national, state, and/or local community-based programs addressing the adjustment and mental health needs of recent combat veterans, including returning National Guard, Army Reserve, and newly separated active duty personnel. Research projects supported through this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will produce new information concerning effective strategies for fostering successful transition from combat to civilian roles for returning service members. NIMH expects that knowledge gained will benefit service members and their families, employers, and relevant federal, state, and local agencies, and will inform future initiatives for recently returned combat veterans.
    Release/Posted Date: July 24, 2008; Expiration Date: May 2, 2009
    Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Returning Combat Veterans in the Community (R01) 
    Scientific Program Director: Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., ABPP, Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR), NIMH

Collaborative RFAs

  • Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration (EUREKA)

    For science to move forward in leaps rather than in incremental steps, investigators must have opportunities to test unconventional, potentially paradigm-shifting hypotheses, and to attempt to use novel, innovative approaches to solve difficult technical and conceptual problems that severely impede progress in a field. However, applications proposing such research are difficult to evaluate in comparison to more typical investigator-initiated R01 research grant applications, in which the emphasis tends to be more on the feasibility of the proposed research than on its novelty. The purpose of the EUREKA initiative is to foster exceptionally innovative research that, if successful, will have an unusually high impact on the areas of science that are germane to the mission of one or more of the participating NIH Institutes.
    Release/Posted Date: August 15, 2008; Expiration Date: October 29, 2008
    Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration (EUREKA) (R01) 
    Scientific Program Director: Susan Koester, Ph.D., Division on Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science (DNBBS), NIMH

  • Implementation Planning Grants for Educational, Behavioral, or Social Studiesfor Translation of Genetic Factors in Common Diseases

    On behalf of the NIH Genes, Environment and Health Initiative (GEI), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is soliciting U34 applications from institutions and organizations that propose plans for multicenter research focusing on translational clinical studies of educational initiatives for patients and practitioners that incorporate genetic findings. It will also encourage research evaluating psychological and behavioral responses to the dissemination of data regarding genetic variants associated with common diseases to individuals, families and communities, and to the behavioral and psychosocial consequences of clinical application of data from genetic or genome wide association studies to the public and to individuals.
    Release/Posted Date: July 16, 2008; Expiration Date: November 26, 2008
    Implementation Planning Grants for Educational, Behavioral, or Social Studies for Translation of Genetic Factors in Common Diseases (U34) 
    Scientific Program Director: Paul L. Kimmel, M.D., Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases, NIDDK

  • Research on Causal Factors and Interventions that Promote and Support the Careers of Women in Biomedical and Behavioral Science and Engineering

    In an era of increasing globalization, the ability to maintain a competitive edge in biomedical and behavioral science and engineering depends on attracting the best and brightest minds to research careers in these enterprises, regardless of sex/gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. This FOA is intended to support research on: (1) causal factors explaining the current patterns observed in the careers of women in biomedical and behavioral science and engineering; and (2) the efficacy of programs designed to eliminate sex/gender disparities and promote the careers of women in these fields.
    Release/Posted Date: July 14, 2008; Expiration Date: October 23, 2008
    Research on Causal Factors and Interventions that Promote and Support the Careers of Women in Biomedical and Behavioral Science and Engineering (R01) 
    Scientific Program Director: Juliana M. Blome, Ph.D., Office of the Director, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

  • Translation of Common Disease Genetics into Clinical Applications

    This trans-NIH GEI initiative will support research to translate genetic findings for common diseases into clinical or public health settings. Applicants are encouraged to submit projects focusing on prevention, therapeutic interventions, and development of diagnostic, predictive, clinical trial and epidemiologic tools, based on findings from genetic studies of common diseases and the results of their dissemination.
    Release/Posted Date: July 9, 2008; Expiration Date: November 26, 2008
    Translation of Common Disease Genetics into Clinical Applications (R21) 
    Scientific Program Director: Paul L. Kimmel, M.D. Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases, NIDDK

Science of Note

Preventive Treatment May Help Head Off Depression Following a Stroke

May 28, 2008 · Science Update
For the first time, researchers show that preventive treatment with an antidepressant medication or talk therapy can significantly reduce the risk or delay the start of depression following an acute stroke, according to an NIMH-funded study. These findings differ from past studies attempting to prevent poststroke depression.
Robinson RG, Jorge RE, Moser DJ, Acion L, Solodkin A, Small SL, Fonzetti P, Hegel M, Arndt S. Escitalopram and problem-solving therapy for prevention of poststroke depression: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2008 May 28;299(20):2391-400.
PMID: 18505948

Medication-only Therapy and Combination Therapy Both Cost Effective for Treating Teens with Depression

May 12, 2008 · Science Update
Treating depressed teenagers with either the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) or a combination of fluoxetine and psychotherapy can be cost effective, according to an economic analysis of the NIMH-funded Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS). Based on their findings, the researchers predicted that if long-term costs remain stable, treating depressed teens with psychotherapy only may become a cost-effective treatment choice as well.
Domino ME, Burns BJ, Silva SG, Kratochvil CJ, Vitiello B, Reinecke MA, Mario J, March JS. Cost-effectiveness of treatments for adolescent depression: results from TADS. Am J Psychiatry. 2008 May;165(5):588-96.
PMID: 18413703

Depression Patients’ Brain Circuitry Makes Them Vulnerable to Relapse

August 1, 2008 · Science Update
Using brain imaging, NIMH researchers have produced direct evidence that people prone to depression—even when they’re feeling well—have abnormal mood-regulating brain circuitry. This makes them vulnerable to relapse when levels of certain key brain chemical messengers plummet.
Hasler G, Fromm S, Carlson PJ, Luckenbaugh DA, Waldeck T, Geraci M, Roiser JP, Neumeister A, Meyers N, Charney DS, Drevets WC. Neural response to catecholamine depletion in unmedicated subjects with major depressive disorder in remission and healthy subjects. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 May;65(5):521-31.
PMID: 18458204

Mechanism for Postpartum Depression Found in Mice

July 30, 2008 · Press Release
Researchers have pinpointed a mechanism in the brains of mice that could explain why some human mothers become depressed following childbirth. The discovery could lead to improved treatment for postpartum depression. Supported in part by NIMH, the study used genetically engineered mice lacking a protein critical for adapting to the sex hormone fluctuations of pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Maguire J, Mody I. GABA(A)R plasticity during pregnancy: relevance to postpartum depression. Neuron. 2008 Jul 31;59(2):207-13.
PMID: 18667149

Serotonin Neurons Critical for Mouse Postpartum Maternal Behavior, Pup Survival

August 29, 2008 · Science Update
Mood disorders, including postpartum depression, have long been treated with antidepressants that enhance the mood-regulating brain chemical messenger serotonin. Now, NIMH-supported researchers have demonstrated in mice—for the first time—that critical postpartum mothering behaviors and offspring survival also depend on proper functioning of serotonin-secreting neurons.
Lerch-Haner JK, Frierson D, Crawford LK, Beck SG, Deneris ES. Serotonergic transcriptional programming determines maternal behavior and offspring survival. Nat Neurosci. 2008 Aug 17. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 18711398

Family-Focused Therapy Effective in Treating Depressive Episodes of Bipolar Youth

September 1, 2008 · Science Update
Adolescents with bipolar disorder who received a nine-month course of family-focused therapy (FFT) recovered more quickly from depressive episodes and stayed free of depression for longer periods than a control group.
Miklowitz DJ, Axelson DA, Birmaher B, George EL, Taylor DO, Schneck CD, Beresford CA, Dickinson LM, Craighead WE, Brent DA. Family-focused treatment for adolescents with bipolar disorder: results of a 2-year randomized trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 Sep;65(9):1053-61.
PMID: 18762591

Largest Study of Its Kind Implicates Gene Abnormalities in Bipolar Disorder

August 18, 2008 · Press Release
The largest genetic analysis of its kind to date for bipolar disorder has implicated machinery involved in the balance of sodium and calcium in brain cells. Researchers supported in part by NIMH found an association between the disorder and variation in two genes that make components of channels that manage the flow of the elements into and out of cells, including neurons.
Ferreira MA, O’Donovan MC, Meng YA, Jones IR, Ruderfer DM, Jones L, Fan J, Kirov G, Perlis RH, Green EK, Smoller JW, Grozeva D, Stone J, Nikolov I, Chambert K, Hamshere ML, Nimgaonkar VL, Moskvina V, Thase ME, Caesar S, Sachs GS, Franklin J, Gordon-Smith K, Ardlie KG, Gabriel SB, Fraser C, Blumenstiel B, Defelice M, Breen G, Gill M, Morris DW, Elkin A, Muir WJ, McGhee KA, Williamson R, Macintyre DJ, Maclean AW, St Clair D, Robinson M, Van Beck M, Pereira AC, Kandaswamy R, McQuillin A, Collier DA, Bass NJ, Young AH, Lawrence J, Nicol Ferrier I, Anjorin A, Farmer A, Curtis D, Scolnick EM, McGuffin P, Daly MJ, Corvin AP, Holmans PA, Blackwood DH; Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, Gurling HM, Owen MJ, Purcell SM, Sklar P, Craddock N. Collaborative genome-wide association analysis supports a role for ANK3 and CACNA1C in bipolar disorder. Nat Genet. 2008 Aug 17. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 18711365

Potential New Target Found for Developing Medications to Treat Bipolar Disorder

June 20, 2008 · Science Update
Medications that target the protein BAG1, which regulates a process that can trigger symptoms in people who have bipolar disorder, may offer a new way of treating the disease, according to NIMH scientists. Their findings suggest that medications that directly affect BAG1 may be a potential new strategy for developing more targeted treatments to improve recovery from both depressive and manic episodes in bipolar disorder, as well as managing stress-related reactions in general.
Maeng S, Hunsberger JG, Pearson B, Yuan P, Wang Y, Wei Y, McCammon J, Schloesser RJ, Zhou R, Du J, Chen G, McEwen B, Reed JC, Manji HK. BAG1 plays a critical role in regulating recovery from both manic-like and depression-like behavioral impairments. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jun 24;105(25):8766-71.
PMID: 18562287

Health Risks Associated with Certain Antipsychotics Warrant Extra Monitoring

July 24, 2008 · Science Update
Some atypical antipsychotics may be more likely than others to cause metabolic and cardiovascular side effects, according to recent analyses using data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE). The researchers conclude that the need for frequent and routine monitoring of metabolic and cardiovascular factors is crucial, especially if patients are taking olanzapine and quetiapine, and if they have preexisting metabolic issues.
Meyer JM, Davis VG, Goff DC, McEvoy JP, Nasrallah HA, Davis SM, Rosenheck RA, Daumit GL, Hsiao J, Swartz MS, Stroup TS, Lieberman JA. Change in metabolic syndrome parameters with antipsychotic treatment in the CATIE Schizophrenia Trial: prospective data from phase 1. Schizophr Res. 2008 Apr;101(1-3):273-86.
PMID: 18258416

Newer Antipsychotics No Better Than Older Medications in Reducing Schizophrenia-related Violence

July 11, 2008 · Science Update
Antipsychotic medications can reduce the risk of violence among people with schizophrenia, but the newer atypical antipsychotics are no more effective in doing so than older medications. In addition, violence associated with circumstances unrelated to the disorder, such as a history of conduct problems, likely will not be treated effectively with antipsychotics alone. Rather, more intensive psychosocial or family-based supportive therapy may be needed to reduce violent behavior in people with these other risk factors, concluded CATIE researchers.
Swanson JW, Swartz MS, Van Dorn RA, Volavka J, Monahan J, Stroup TS, McEvoy JP, Wagner HR, Elbogen EB, Lieberman JA; CATIE investigators. Comparison of antipsychotic medication effects on reducing violence in people with schizophrenia. Br J Psychiatry. 2008 Jul;193(1):37-43.
PMID: 18700216

Abnormal Surge in Brain Development Occurs in Teens and Young Adults with Schizophrenia

July 8, 2008 · Science Update
Schizophrenia may occur, in part, because brain development goes awry during adolescence and young adulthood, when the brain is eliminating some connections between cells as a normal part of maturation.
Sun D, Stuart GW, Jenkinson M, Wood SJ, McGorry PD, Velakoulis D, van Erp TG, Thompson PM, Toga AW, Smith DJ, Cannon TD, Pantelis C. Brain surface contraction mapped in first-episode schizophrenia: a longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging study. Mol Psychiatry. 2008 Jul 8. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 18607377

Increased Burden of Rare Genetic Variations Found in Schizophrenia

July 30, 2008 · Press Release
People with schizophrenia bear an “increased burden” of rare deletions and duplications of genetic material, genome-wide, say researchers supported in part by NIMH. Although recent smaller studies had identified such structural genetic glitches in schizophrenia, this genome-wide association study is the first large enough to detect weak signals that might otherwise be drowned out amid a din of statistical noise.
Stefansson H, Rujescu D, Cichon S, Pietiläinen OP, Ingason A, Steinberg S, Fossdal R, Sigurdsson E, Sigmundsson T, Buizer-Voskamp JE, Hansen T, Jakobsen KD, Muglia P, Francks C, Matthews PM, Gylfason A, Halldorsson BV, Gudbjartsson D, Thorgeirsson TE, Sigurdsson A, Jonasdottir A, Jonasdottir A, Bjornsson A, Mattiasdottir S, Blondal T, Haraldsson M, Magnusdottir BB, Giegling I, Möller HJ, Hartmann A, Shianna KV, Ge D, Need AC, Crombie C, Fraser G, Walker N, Lonnqvist J, Suvisaari J, Tuulio-Henriksson A, Paunio T, Toulopoulou T, Bramon E, Di Forti M, Murray R, Ruggeri M, Vassos E, Tosato S, Walshe M, Li T, Vasilescu C, Mühleisen TW, Wang AG, Ullum H, Djurovic S, Melle I, Olesen J, Kiemeney LA, Franke B; Genetic Risk and Outcome in Psychosis (GROUP), Kahn RS, Linszen D, van Os J, Wiersma D, Bruggeman R, Cahn W, Germeys I, de Haan L, Krabbendam L, Sabatti C, Freimer NB, Gulcher JR, Thorsteinsdottir U, Kong A, Andreassen OA, Ophoff RA, Georgi A, Rietschel M, Werge T, Petursson H, Goldstein DB, Nöthen MM, Peltonen L, Collier DA, St Clair D, Stefansson K. Large recurrent microdeletions associated with schizophrenia. Nature. 2008 Jul 30. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 18668039

Spontaneous Mutations Rife in Non-Familial Schizophrenia

May 30, 2008 · Press Release
People with schizophrenia from families with no history of the illness were found to harbor eight times more spontaneous mutations – most in pathways affecting brain development – than healthy controls, in a study supported in part by NIMH. By contrast, no spontaneous mutations were found in people with schizophrenia who had family histories of the illness.
Xu B, Roos JL, Levy S, van Rensburg EJ, Gogos JA, Karayiorgou M. Strong association of de novo copy number mutations with sporadic schizophrenia. Nat Genet. 2008 Jul;40(7):880-5.
PMID: 18511947

Antipsychotic Does Not Harm—and May Improve—Cognitive Skills in Children with Autism

August 27, 2008 · Science Update
The atypical antipsychotic medication risperidone (Risperdal) does not negatively affect cognitive skills of children with autism, and may lead to improvements. Risperidone is prescribed for children with autism to treat aggression, self-harming behavior and other serious behavioral problems.
Aman MG, Hollway JA, McDougle CJ, Scahill L, Tierney E, McCracken JT, Arnold LE, Vitiello B, Ritz L, Gavaletz A, Cronin P, Swiezy N, Wheeler C, Koenig K, Ghuman JK, Posey DJ. Cognitive effects of risperidone in children with autism and irritable behavior. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2008 Jun;18(3):227-36.
PMID: 18582177

Common Mechanisms May Underlie Autism’s Seemingly Diverse Mutations

July 10, 2008 · Press Release
Many of the seemingly disparate mutations recently discovered in autism may share common underlying mechanisms, say researchers supported in part by NIMH. The mutations may disrupt specific genes that are vital to the developing brain, and which are turned on and off by experience-triggered neuronal activity.
Morrow EM, Yoo SY, Flavell SW, Kim TK, Lin Y, Hill RS, Mukaddes NM, Balkhy S, Gascon G, Hashmi A, Al-Saad S, Ware J, Joseph RM, Greenblatt R, Gleason D, Ertelt JA, Apse KA, Bodell A, Partlow JN, Barry B, Yao H, Markianos K, Ferland RJ, Greenberg ME, Walsh CA. Identifying autism loci and genes by tracing recent shared ancestry. Science. 2008 Jul 11;321(5886):218-23.
PMID: 18621663

Age-related Decline of ADHD Symptoms Disrupted by Middle School

July 21, 2008 · Science Update
Although symptoms of ADHD can last into adulthood, typically they decline as a child gets older. The study provides the first research data to support the assertion that the environmental changes associated with the transition to middle school can worsen a child’s ADHD symptoms or disrupt the typical pattern of decline.
Langberg JM, Epstein JN, Altaye M, Molina BS, Arnold LE, Vitiello B. The transition to middle school is associated with changes in the developmental trajectory of ADHD symptomatology in young adolescents with ADHD. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2008 Jul;37(3):651-63.
PMID: 18645755

Anxious Youth Have Disturbed Brain Responses When Looking at Angry Faces

June 20, 2008 · Science Update
When looking at angry faces so quickly that they are hardly aware of seeing them, youth with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have unchecked activity in the brain’s fear center, say NIMH researchers.
Monk CS, Telzer EH, Mogg K, Bradley BP, Mai X, Louro HM, Chen G, McClure-Tone EB, Ernst M, Pine DS. Amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activation to masked angry faces in children and adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 May;65(5):568-76.
PMID: 18458208

Borderline Personality Disorder: Brain Differences Related to Disruptions in Cooperation in Relationships

August 12, 2008 · Science Update
Different patterns of brain activity in people with borderline personality disorder were associated with disruptions in the ability to recognize social norms or modify behaviors that likely result in distrust and broken relationships, according to an NIMH-funded study. Using brain imaging and game theory, a mathematical approach to studying social interactions, the researchers offer a potential new way to define and describe this serious mental illness.
King-Casas B, Sharp C, Lomax-Bream L, Lohrenz T, Fonagy P, Montague PR. The Rupture and Repair of Cooperation in Borderline Personality Disorder. Science. 2008 Aug 8;321(5890):806-10.
PMID: 18687957

Antipsychotic Medications May Ease Some Alzheimer’s Symptoms, Not Others

June 23, 2008 · Science Update
Antipsychotic medications may lessen symptoms like hostility and aggression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but do not appear to lessen other symptoms or improve quality of life, according to a recent analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness Alzheimer’s Disease (CATIE-AD) study. Doctors should consider each patient’s circumstances, vulnerabilities and needs to determine if potential benefits will outweigh potential adverse effects, say the researchers.
Sultzer DL, Davis SM, Tariot PN, Dagerman KS, Lebowitz BD, Lyketsos CG, Rosenheck RA, Hsiao JK, Lieberman JA, Schneider LS; CATIE-AD Study Group. Clinical symptom responses to atypical antipsychotic medications in Alzheimer’s disease: phase 1 outcomes from the CATIE-AD effectiveness trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2008 Jul;165(7):844-54.
PMID: 18519523

A Night’s Sleep Gives Emotional Memories Their Staying Power

August 14, 2008 · Science Update
For the first time, researchers have found that following a night’s sleep, emotional components of scenes are remembered at the expense of neutral components. In contrast, memories of both emotional and neutral components decayed equally following 12 hours of wakefulness. Sleep also promoted memory for generality over detail.
Payne JD, Stickgold R, Swanberg K, Kensinger, EA. Sleep Preferentially Enhances Memory for Emotional Components of Scenes. Psychol Sci. 2008 Aug;19(8):781-8.

The Maturing Brain Parallels its Evolution

June 5, 2008 · Science Update
Evolutionarily older areas of the human brain that mature earliest follow a simple, straight-line growth pattern. In contrast, newer areas that support our uniquely human capacities, such as thinking and language, mature latest and show the most complex growth pattern, NIMH researchers say. In keeping with their relatively recent evolution, newer areas are composed of more complex layers of cells and show stronger genetic influence later in development compared with evolutionarily older areas.
Shaw P, Kabani NJ, Lerch JP, Eckstrand K, Lenroot R, Gogtay N, Greenstein D, Clasen L, Evans A, Rapoport JL, Giedd JN, Wise SP. Neurodevelopmental trajectories of the human cerebral cortex. J Neurosci. 2008 Apr 2;28(14):3586-94.
PMID: 18385317

HIV-associated Neurological Disease Prevalent in Asia-Pacific Region

July 1, 2008 · Science Update
A new study finds a significant rate of HIV-related neurological disease among HIV-positive populations living in the Asian-Pacific region. The NIMH-funded researchers recommend more routine screening and better access to treatments such as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Wright E, Brew B, Arayawichanont A, Robertson K, Samintharapanya K, Kongsaengdao S, Lim M, Vonthanak S, Lal L, Sarim C, Huffam S, Li P, Imran D, Lewis J, Lun WH, Kamarulzaman A, Tau G, Ali ST, Kishore K, Bain MP, Dwyer R, McCormack G, Hellard M, Cherry C, McArthur J, Wesselingh S. Neurologic disorders are prevalent in HIV-positive outpatients in the Asia-Pacific region. Neurology. 2008 Jul 1;71(1):50-6.
PMID: 18591505

Couples-based Intervention May Limit HIV Transmission in African Countries

June 27, 2008 · Science Update
A shift to a couples-based intervention for married and cohabiting couples in urban Zambia and Rwanda could prevent up to 60 percent of new HIV infections that would otherwise occur, according to an NIMH-funded study.
Dunkle KL, Stephenson R, Karita E, Chomba E, Kayitenkore K, Vwalika C, Greenberg L, Allen S. New heterosexually transmitted HIV infections in married or cohabiting couples in urban Zambia and Rwanda: an analysis of survey and clinical data. Lancet. 2008 Jun 28;371(9631):2183-91.
PMID: 18586173

HIV-positive Survivors of Sexual Abuse Who Receive Coping Intervention Less Likely to Engage in Unprotected Sex

May 23, 2008 · Science Update
HIV-positive people who have experienced childhood sexual abuse are less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior if they receive a group intervention designed to help them cope with their traumatic history, according to an NIMH-funded study. Risky behavior among this population can be reduced more effectively by addressing trauma-related factors such as shame, coping difficulties and relationship issues than by just providing general social support.
Sikkema KJ, Wilson PA, Hansen NB, Kochman A, Neufeld S, Ghebremichael MS, Kershaw T. Effects of a coping intervention on transmission risk behavior among people living with HIV/AIDS and a history of childhood sexual abuse. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2008 Apr 1;47(4):506-13.
PMID: 18176319

Research Conferences and Workshops

NIMH Alliance for Research Progress
In July, the Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison (OCRPL) convened the ninth meeting of the NIMH Alliance for Research Progress in Bethesda, Maryland. The Alliance is a group of representatives from patient and family-related advocacy organizations directly concerned with mental illnesses. The meeting serves as an opportunity for Alliance members to learn about scientific advances in mental health research; discuss important information on changes in the field; interact directly with NIMH leadership and provide crucial input and feedback; and network with colleagues. The focus of the meeting was on neurodevelopment research. Researchers from NIMH’s Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP) presented information on Bipolar Disorder and Brain Mechanics, Brain Imaging and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Early Detection and Intervention and the Schizophrenia Prodrome. Alliance members also heard presentations on the recently released RAND report, Invisible Wounds of War, and an update on the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). For more information, please contact Alison Bennett at


FY 2008 Budget Update
On June 30, 2008, the President signed into law H.R. 2642, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008. This provided NIH with an additional $150 million for FY 2008. NIMH’s share was $7.5 million, an increase of 0.5% over the FY 2008 enacted level of $1,405 million. NIMH also received an increase of $1.59 million as part of the transfers within NIH GEI under the NIH Director’s 1% transfer authority provided in Public Law 109-482 for a FY 2008 NIMH estimate of $1,414 million. NIMH actual comparable budget authority by budget mechanism for FY 2007, FY 2008 estimate and FY 2009 President’s Budget are displayed on Attachment 1.

FY 2009 Budget Request
The FY 2009 President’s Budget Request for NIH was submitted to Congress on February 4, 2008. This request would provide a total NIH program level of $29,465 million (includes $29,230 million Labor/HHS Subtotal, $77 million Interior Budget Authority, $150 million Type 1 Diabetes and $8 million NLM Program Evaluation) which is equal to the FY 2008 enacted appropriation. The FY 2009 request of $1,407 million for the NIMH is an increase of $1,365 thousand or + 0.1% over the FY 2008 Enacted.

On June 26, 2008, the House of Representatives considered the Subcommittee Chairman’s Mark of the FY 2009 appropriations bill (see Attachment 2). The House Subcommittee Mark provided an increase to NIH of $1,150 million or +3.9% over the FY 2008 enacted level. The House Subcommittee Mark provided an NIMH program level of $1,455 million for an increase of $49.7 million or +3.5% over the FY 2008 enacted level.

On June 26, 2008, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee provided $30,254 million to NIH. This represented an increase of $1,025 million or +3.5% over the FY 2008 enacted level. The Senate provided an NIMH program level of $1,446 million for an increase of $40.5 million or+2.9% over the FY 2008 enacted level.

Honors for NIMH Grantees

New HHMI Investigators

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) named four current or former NIMH grantees Hughes investigators in May. Rather than awarding research grants, HHMI appoints scientists as investigators and provides long-term flexible funding to pursue innovative research projects at their home institutions. The four NIMH grantees in this year’s group are Carlos D. Brody, Princeton University; Erich Jarvis, Duke University Medical Center; Leonid Kruglyak, Princeton University; and Bernardo Sabatini, Harvard Medical School.

Major NIMH Staff Awards

2008 NIH Director’s Awards
The NIH Director annually recognizes individuals and groups whose special efforts and contributions beyond regular duty requirements have resulted in significant benefits to the programs or the people of NIH and the fulfillment of the NIH mission. The following NIMH staff were honored at a ceremony on the NIH campus in July:

  • Della M. Hann, Ph.D., Director, Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications, receive an NIH Director’s Award as a member of the NIH Biennial Report Leadership Team “for conceptualizing and producing the first of the new NIH Biennial Reports, mandated by the NIH Reform Act of 2006.”
  • Francis J. McMahon, M.D., Chief of the NIMH Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program Genetics Unit, IRP, received an NIH Director’s Award “for his outstanding progress elucidating the genetics of mood disorders.”
  • Donald L. Rosenstein, M.D., Clinical Director, IRP, received an NIH Director’s Award “for sustained administrative leadership that inspires all those around him within the NIMH and NIH communities to conduct innovative mental health research with the highest ethical standards.”
  • Farris Tuma, Sc.D., Chief, Traumatic Stress Disorders Research Program, DATR, received an NIH Director’s Award “for extraordinary leadership in fostering and coordinating research to improve the mental health of military service members, veterans and their families.”

2008 NIH Blueprint Awards
The Directors of the 16 ICs participating in the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research recognized the following individuals and groups for their contributions at an awards ceremony on the NIH campus in July 2008:

  • Bruce Anderson, Contracting Officer, NIMH Office of Resource Management, in conjunction with NIDA, received an NIH Blueprint Award “for extreme dedication and expert stewardship of the Blueprint Neurodevelopment Gene Expression Contract Initiative.”
  • Kathleen Anderson, Ph.D., Deputy Director, DDTR, received an NIH Blueprint Award “for expert leadership of the Blueprint Neurodevelopment Gene Expression Initiative.”
  • Chiiko Asanuma, Ph.D., Chief, SignalTransduction Program, DNBBS, received an NIH Blueprint Award “for exemplary leadership in organizing and co-chairing the Blueprint Neuroplasticity Workshop and initiative development.”
  • Michelle Freund, Ph.D., Health Scientist Administrator, DNBBS, received an NIH Blueprint Award “for expert leadership on the Blueprint Neurodevelopment Initiatives.”
  • BRAINdev Team received an NIH Blueprint Group Award “for significant effort that contributed substantially towards the creation of the NIH Blueprint Monoclonal Antibody Program.” The team included Michelle Freund, Ph.D.; Roger Little, Ph.D.; and Laurie Nadler, Ph.D.
  • Circuits Initiative Team received an NIH Blueprint Group Award “for effective and dedicated teamwork in the creation and funding of the Blueprint Neurodevelopment Circuits Initiative.” The team included Kathryn Bognovitz; Michelle Freund, Ph.D.; and Michael Huerta, Ph.D.
  • Gene Expression Team received an NIH Blueprint Group Award “for long-term dedication to the Blueprint Neurodevelopment Gene Expression Initiative.” The team included Bruce Anderson; Kathleen Anderson, Ph.D.; Michelle Freund, Ph.D.; Michael Huerta, Ph.D.; and Kevin Quinn, Ph.D.
  • Neuroimaging Project Team received an NIH Blueprint Group Award “for successful planning and implementation of two Blueprint initiatives, and in recognition of consistent contribution and oversight to the NITRC project.” The team included Michael Huerta, Ph.D.
  • Neuroplasticity Efforts received an NIH Blueprint Group Award “for exceptional commitment and contributions to the Neuroplasticity Efforts, which holds the promise of high impact and lasting significance.” The team included Chiiko Asanuma, Ph.D.; Kathryn Bognovitz; Michelle Freund, Ph.D.; Margaret Grabb, Ph.D.; and Michael Huerta, Ph.D.
  • Neuroplasticity Workshop Team received an NIH Blueprint Group Award “for successfully planning and convening a workshop addressing obstacles and opportunities for neuroplasticity research.” The team included Chiiko Asanuma, Ph.D.; Marlene Guzman; and Anne Sperling, Ph.D.

Professional Staff Changes


Marjorie Garvey, MB, BCh (M.D. equivalent) joined DDTR in August as a Program Officer, overseeing the Mechanisms of Biobehavioral and Mood Dysregulation, and Mechanisms of Sensory, Perceptual, and Motor Dysfunction research portfolios in the Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of Mental Disorders Branch. Dr. Garvey received her MB, BCh from the University of Dublin, Ireland, and a MHS in Clinical Research from NIH/Duke University. She subsequently completed a Research Registrar at National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, in 1990. She completed fellowships in Child Neurology at Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC and Pediatric Motor Control at NIH. Dr. Garvey held academic appointments at Trinity College, Dublin, and George Washington University Medical School. Prior to joining NIMH, Dr. Garvey was the Director of the National Center for Cerebral Palsy and Related Disorders at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. Dr. Garvey is Board Certified in Neurology with Special Qualification in Child Neurology.

David Panchision, Ph.D., joined the DNBBS Molecular, Cellular, and Genomic Neuroscience Research Branch in July to oversee the Developmental Neurobiology Program. He was most recently an Assistant Professor at Children’s National Medical Center and George Washington University, where he studied the interaction of oxygen-response and BMP signaling in normal CNS and cancer stem cells. He was also involved in identifying novel gene/protein differences between normal and cancer brain cells as part of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and CNMC Neurofibromatosis Institute. Prior to that, Dr. Panchision did his postdoctoral training in neural development, focusing on the role of growth factor signaling, with Ron McKay in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He received his Ph.D. in 1994 for studying the role of RNA metabolism in neuronal plasticity from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Andrew Rossi, Ph.D., assumed leadership over the “Executive Functions” Program within DNBBS’ Behavioral Science and Integrative Neuroscience Research Branch in June. He previously held a position at Vanderbilt University as assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Rossi received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, obtained his Ph.D. from Brown University, and served as a postdoc in IRP, working with Leslie Ungerleider and Bob Desimone.

Charles Sanislow, Ph.D., joined the Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development (DATR) in June as Chief the Mood and Sleep Disorders Research Program. Before coming to NIMH, Dr. Sanislow held a position as Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Yale University. He received his B.S. degree in psychology from Northern Michigan University in 1985 and his doctorate in clinical psychology from Duke University in 1994. He completed a clinical internship and post-doctoral training at Yale Medical School, where he joined the faculty as a clinical instructor and was promoted to assistant professor. Dr. Sanislow developed treatment programs for depression and suicide at the Yale Psychiatric Institute and was active in training clinical psychology interns and post-doctoral fellows.

Julia Zehr, Ph.D., joined DDTR in July as a ProgramChiefof the Trajectories of Behavioral Dysregulation Program and the Integrative Studies of Biology and Behavior Program in theDevelopmental Trajectories of Mental Disorders Branch. Dr. Zehr arrives from the University of Washington where she was a review scientist in the Office of Animal Welfare. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Michigan State University working with Cheryl Sisk, where she studied neural development during puberty in hamsters. At Michigan State, her interests in translating basic research to clinical mental health outcomes led to a collaborative project investigating the relationship between the timing of puberty onset and disordered eating behavior in young adult women and men. Julia received her B.A. in biology from The University of Chicago and her Ph.D. in psychology in the Neurobiology and Animal Behavior Program at Emory University, where she was a student of Kim Wallen.


David Jacobowitz, Ph.D., retired after over 30 years of Federal service. Dr. Jacobowitz received his master’s degree from the Department of Anatomy and Ph.D. from the Department of Pharmacology at The Ohio State University School of Medicine in 1963. He did his postdoctoral training with George Koelle at the University of Pennsylvania and rose there to the rank of Associate Professor. He later established the Section on Histopharmacology at NIMH. His laboratory at NIMH has been credited with producing complete neuroanatomical maps of 11 neuronal systems, including localization of catecholamines and acetylcholinesterase and identifying calretinin, a calcium-binding protein. He recently produced the state of the art color atlas entitled “Chemoarchitectonic Atlas of the Developing Mouse Brain,” an invaluable resource for researchers interested in the fetal brain.

Shoshana Kahana, Ph.D., completed a one-year Visiting Scientist position in DDTR, where she worked with Eve Moscicki and Shelli Avenevoli managing research portfolios in trauma, intervention, and emotional regulation in children. She also worked with Farris Tuma on the development of several PTSD initiatives and meetings. Dr. Kahana is now a Program Officer in theDivision of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), where she will oversee research portfolios on the treatment of comorbid PTSD and drug abuse as well as the prevention of HIV.

Husseini Manji, M.D., Director, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program (MAP) and Chief, Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology and Experimental Therapeutics (LMP), in IRP accepted the position of Global Vice President, Neuroscience and Pain, with Johnson and Johnson in June. There, he will be responsible for leading their global drug development efforts and serving on the newly created Therapeutic Area Leadership Team. Dr. Manji will continue to be a Special Volunteer in IRP.

Eve Moscicki, M.D., Associate Director, Office of Prevention, DATR, left NIMH in September to take on a new challenge as the Director for the Practice Research Network of the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education, which is part of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). As a member of the NIMH staff since 1984, Dr. Moscicki has served the Institute in a variety of positions. Her affiliation with NIH began in 1981 when she joined the PHS Epidemiology Program as a post doctoral fellow and also served as a scientist in NINDS.

David Neville, M.D., retired on July 31 after 48 years of Federal service. Dr. Neville was Chief, Section on Biophysical Chemistry, Laboratory of Molecular Biology. He received his M.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1959 after completing the four-year program plus an additional year within the Department of Pathology as a student fellow. During this time Dr. Neville developed the first method for isolating a cell membrane fraction from a nucleated cell. Dr. Neville’s interest in cell surface membranes and receptors has been the principle guide for his research career. After completing an internship in internal medicine at Grace New Haven Hospital, he moved to NIMH in 1960 where he was introduced to macromolecular chemistry under the tutelage of Drs. Bernhard, Bradley and Davies. His most recent research was on the development of highly efficient recombinant anti-T cell immunotoxins and their use to induce transplantation tolerance.

John Ohab, Ph.D., completed a one-year AAAS science policy fellowship in OSPPC, where he worked with Dr. Marina Volkov in developing congressional reports and conducting analyses for the evaluation of the NIMH research training portfolio. Dr. Ohab is now pursuing a AAAS fellowship in the Department of Defense, in program evaluation.

Karen Oliver, Ph.D., who has served as Program Officer for the Clinical Epidemiology and Outcomes and Quality of Care Research portfolios with DSIR’s Services Research and Clinical Epidemiology Branch (srcEB), left NIMH in September 2008 to work out of the Madison VA Hospital, leading and managing the mental health system redesign project for Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 12—Chicago region. She will be implementing rapid cycle performance improvement techniques for all Chicago VISN facilities, as well as developing and leading health services, system research and quality improvement studies for this region.

Louise Ritz, MBA, left DDTR in September to assume the position of Clinical Research Manager in the Clinical Trials Cluster at NINDS. Ms. Ritz joined NIMH in 1997 as a clinical trials consultant in DSIR. In 1999, she came on staff in the division’s Clinical Trials and Biostatistics Unit and provided oversight for a number of multi-site clinical trials including the CATIE and STAR*D trials. She moved to DDTR in 2005 to serve as Program Manager for coordinating thedevelopment of the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) and clinical trials consultant for the division. She also has initiated division-wide collaborative efforts for portfolio and grant monitoring and analysis that have streamlined operations, communications, and reporting. Prior to joining NIMH, Ms. Ritz managed large-scale data centers for medical research contract organizations.

Donald Rosenstein, M.D., stepped down as IRP Clinical Director in July. This fall he will join the University of North Carolina School of Medicine as Director of their Psychooncology Program and a Professor of Psychiatry. In this new position, he will develop and lead a psychooncology program that will provide clinical services to patients and families facing cancer. Until then, he will be a Special Advisor to Drs. Nakamura and Insel. Dr. Rosenstein has provided sustained outstanding administrative and clinical leadership to the NIMH and to the Clinical Center, NIH.

Transfers and Other NIMH Staff Changes:
Shelli Avenevoli, Ph.D., accepted her appointment as Chief of the Developmental Trajectories of Mental Disorders Research Branch, DTTR, following a competitive national search. She had previously served as Acting Branch Ch ief as well as Chief of theEmotion, Mood, and Depressive Disorder and Mood Regulation and Bipolar Disorder research programs. Dr. Avenevoli joined NIMH as a program officer in 2005 following five years as a Staff Scientist in the Developmental Genetic Epidemiology, Mood, and Anxiety Disorders Program in IRP.

David Chambers, DPhil, was appointed as Chief of srcEB, DSIR, in June 2008. Dr. Chambers had been servings as Program Officer for Dissemination and Implementation Research within srcEB, where he managed a portfolio of grants that study the integration of scientific findings and effective clinical practices in mental health within real-world practice settings. Since 2006, he has also served as Associate Director for Dissemination and Implementation Research, a position that he will retain going forward. In this additional capacity, Dr. Chambers has led NIH initiatives around coordinating dissemination and implementation research in health and has served as Institute representative to the Federal Action Agenda Executive Committee, which coordinates the Federal response to the President’s Freedom Commission Report on Mental Health.

Wayne Drevets, M.D., was appointed to serve as the Acting Lab Chief for the Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology and Experimental Therapeutics, IRP. Dr. Drevets is also a distinguished tenured scientist in the program and had held the position of Chief, Section on Neuroimaging in Mood and Anxiety Disorders, in the Molecular Imaging Branch prior to his current appointment.

Robert Innis, M.D., was named Acting Director, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program (MAP), IRP. Dr. Innis is a distinguished tenured scientist in our program and previously served as Chief, Molecular Imaging Branch.

Richard Nakamura, Ph.D., accepted the appointment of Scientific Director for IRP, effective September 28, 2008, after serving 22 years as Deputy Director for NIMH.

Maryland Pao, M.D., accepted her appointment as Acting Clinical Director, IRP, effective July 1, 2008. Dr. Pao served as Deputy Clinical Director and Chief, Pediatric Consultation Liaison Service. She has worked in the Clinical Director’s Office since September 2002 and has worked closely with Dr. Rosenstein on various clinical and training initiatives.

National Institute of Mental Health
FY 2009 President's Budget

(Dollars in Thousands)

Attachment 1 - Table 1 of 3

FY 2007 Actual (Budget Authority)
No. Amount No. Amount No. Amount
Research Grants:
Research Projects:
Noncompeting 1,398 475,432 155 82,105 1,553 557,537
Admin. Suppl (35) 2,212 (6) 379 (41) 2,591
Competing 550 187,551 70 29,694 620 217,245
Subtotal 1,948 665,195 225 112,178 2,173 777,373
SBIR/STTR 79 24,246 15 4,409 94 28,655
Subtot.,RPG 2,027 689,441 240 116,587 2,267 806,028
Research Centers 69 97,194 8 18,276 77 115,470
Other Research:
Res. Careers 423 63,975 37 5,605 460 69,580
Coop. Clin. Res 0 500 5 5,728 5 6,228
Biomedical Res.Sup 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 125 30,647 15 6,658 140 37,305
Subtot., Other 548 95,122 57 17,991 605 113,113
Total Res.Grants 2,644 881,757 305 152,854 2,949 1,034,611
Research Training: FTTP FTTP FTTP
Individual 246 8,805 29 1,059 275 9,864
Institutional 827 35,966 86 4,028 913 39,994
Total Training 1,073 44,771 115 5,087 1,188 49,858
R&D Contracts 184 80,838 13 10,046 197 90,884
Total, Extramural 1,007,366 167,987 1,175,353
Intramural Res 374 159,200 3 2,992 377 162,192
Res. Mgmt. & Supp 223 58,414 15 7,611 238 66,025
Total, NIMH 597 1,224,980 18 178,590 615 1,403,570
% Over Prior Year 0.4% -2.2% 0.0%

Attachment 1 - Table 2 of 3

FY 2008 Estimate (Incl. GEI & Supplemental Transfers)
No. Amount No. Amount No. Amount
Research Grants:
Research Projects:
Noncompeting 1,439 508,004 171 84,765 1,610 592,769
Admin. Suppl (38) 3,076 (6) 379 (44) 3,455
Competing 452 156,055 69 28,720 521 184,775
Subtotal 1,891 667,135 240 113,864 2,131 780,999
SBIR/STTR 82 23,261 12 4,494 94 27,755
Subtot.,RPG 1,973 690,396 252 118,358 2,225 808,754
Research Centers 69 103,497 8 19,971 77 123,468
Other Research:
Res. Careers 433 64,875 37 5,605 470 70,480
Coop. Clin. Res 0 490 5 3,920 5 4,410
Biomedical Res.Sup 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 125 30,647 15 6,658 140 37,305
Subtot., Other 558 96,012 57 16,183 615 112,195
Total Res.Grants 2,600 889,905 315 154,512 2,917 1,044,417
Research Training: FTTP FTTP FTTP
Individual 246 8,805 29 1,059 275 9,864
Institutional 827 35,966 86 4,028 913 39,994
Total Training 1,073 44,771 115 5,087 1,188 49,858
R&D Contracts 174 73,055 13 10,777 187 83,832
Total, Extramural 1,007,731 170,376 1,178,107
Intramural Res 374 165,384 3 3,052 377 168,436
Res. Mgmt. & Supp 223 60,273 1/ 15 7,725 238 67,998
Total, NIMH 597 1,233,388 18 181,153 615 1,414,541
% Over Prior Year 0.7% 1.4% 0.8%

1/ Includes $983 for Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.

Attachment 1 - Table 3 of 3

FY 2009 President's Budget
No. Amount No. Amount No. Amount
Research Grants:
Research Projects:
Noncompeting 1,396 509,317 162 82,397 1,558 591,714
Admin. Suppl (36) 2,426 (6) 379 (42) 2,805
Competing 428 146,988 69 28,892 497 175,880
Subtotal 1,824 658,731 231 111,668 2,055 770,399
SBIR/STTR 82 23,211 12 4,494 94 27,705
Subtot.,RPG 1,906 681,942 243 116,162 2,149 798,104
Research Centers 69 103,497 8 19,971 77 123,468
Other Research:
Res. Careers 433 64,875 37 5,605 470 70,480
Coop. Clin. Res 0 490 5 3,920 5 4,410
Biomedical Res.Sup 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 125 30,647 15 6,658 140 37,305
Subtot., Other 558 96,012 57 16,183 615 112,195
Total Res.Grants 2,533 881,451 308 152,316 2,841 1,033,767
Research Training: FTTP FTTP FTTP
Individual 246 8,865 29 1,066 275 9,931
Institutional 827 36,211 86 4,055 913 40,266
Total Training 1,073 45,076 115 5,121 1,188 50,197
R&D Contracts 174 75,164 13 10,777 187 85,941
Total, Extramural 1,001,691 168,214 1,169,905
Intramural Res 374 164,820 3 3,098 377 167,918
Res. Mgmt. & Supp 227 61,177 15 7,841 242 69,018
Total, NIMH 601 1,227,688 18 179,153 619 1,406,841
% Over Prior Year -0.5% -1.1% -0.5%