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Post by Former NIMH Director Thomas Insel: NIMH and the Recovery Act

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Last February’s announcement that funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) will be used to support job creation and retention in biomedical research presented an exciting opportunity for NIMH. These supplemental funds arrived just as the Institute was launching the implementation of its new Strategic Plan. For some months now, the Institute has been diligently working to implement a series of ARRA funding initiatives that will aggressively pursue the Plan’s objectives.

NIMH is using ARRA funds to (1) support select basic and clinical research project grants with outstanding scores that would otherwise fall below our pay line, (2) supplement currently funded projects in specific areas of need, and (3) award grants funded through a series of new NIH-wide ARRA initiatives, including: Research and Research Infrastructure Grand Opportunities Grants; Administrative Supplements; Revision Applications; and NIH Core Centers to Support New Faculty Recruitment.

In addition to participating in these NIH-wide activities, NIMH was the lead Institute in developing an initiative to significantly jumpstart the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee’s (IACC) Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Research. This approximately $60 million collaborative effort, the largest in NIH history to support ASD research, will result in studies that address a wide range of topics, including ASD measurement, identification of biological indicators, genetic and environmental risk factors, and ASD intervention and treatment.

Applications for funding all these ARRA activities were received throughout the Spring, and the response from the research community was outstanding. This response led to a particularly busy summer for the Institute. Grants and supplement applications were reviewed, special sessions of the National Advisory Mental Health Council were convened to vote on review decisions, and the Institute’s extramural program and grants management staff worked overtime to facilitate this process. As final funding decisions are being made, I encourage you to visit NIH’s Recovery page to learn more about the stimulus programs funded by ARRA. This Web page also includes a searchable directory of all NIH grants supported by ARRA dollars, highlighting the important research projects now underway as well as the Recovery Act’s commitment to financial transparency.

The past 6 months have been a busy and exciting period of time at NIMH. The research community and Institute staff are to be commended for rising to the challenge and accelerating the next generation of mental health research.

Standard NIMH Funding

While ARRA-related activities have been underway, the Institute’s standard funding cycle has continued unabated. There are a few important updates to this process. Applicants should take note of the recent movement of some grants administered through the Division of AIDS and Health and Behavior (DAHBR).

NIMH’s commitment to supporting strong research programs in the health and behavior arena of mental health—including work on stigma and on co-morbid illnesses—have yielded a portfolio that is ready to be translated into preventive and treatment interventions. As such, beginning in August 2009, grants in these areas are being transitioned to the Institute’s Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development (DATR) and Division of Services and Interventions Research (DSIR), wherever the scientific match is best. These changes also provide for an increased and exclusive focus on AIDS research in DAHBR, which is being administered by the remaining division personnel.

More Information on the Recovery Act