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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Integrative Systems Pharmacology Program

This program supports interdisciplinary neuroscience research aimed at developing and testing innovative targets and therapeutic candidates and developing tools to be used in a therapeutic development pipeline to evaluate targets and to predict clinical effects. Such tools include novel in vivo assays and measures for elucidating circuits, physiological changes, and circuit-based behavioral effects reflective of domains impacting cognition and/or affect. Specifically, focus on relevant circuit measures and domains with conservation of neurobiological mechanisms and function across species is expected to facilitate the efficient evaluation of novel targets and advance therapeutic development. The overarching goal of the program is to discover and verify novel treatment targets and candidate therapeutics for mental illnesses based on the understanding of molecular, cellular, and circuits mediating relevant neurobiological processes.

Areas of interest include:

  • Development of innovative preclinical assays and neurobiological measures of fundamental processes relevant to emotional and cognitive disorders.
  • Identification and testing of novel in vivo targets for therapeutic development including genomic changes, signaling and plasticity mechanisms, and neural circuitry mediating select domains of cognition and mood relevant to mental illnesses.
  • Elucidating molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for the differential behavioral effects of acute and chronic novel drug candidates by genes, sex, age, and environment.
  • Application of genetic approaches and imaging techniques to reveal critical molecules, signaling cascades, and circuits responsible for the behavioral effects of innovative drug leads and candidates.

Where proposed, potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consider recommendations regarding the selection of behavioral outcome measures as outlined in NOT-MH-19-053 “Notice of NIMH’s Considerations Regarding the Use of Animal Neurobehavioral Approaches in Basic and Pre-clinical Studies.”

Lower priority is placed on projects whose primary goal is to elucidate the mechanisms of behavioral action of approved and effective psychotherapeutic drug treatments. Lower priority is also placed on projects aiming to model mental illness syndromes or symptoms (i.e., models “of” a mental illness) as detailed in NOT-MH-19-053.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to align projects according to the NIMH Strategic Plan (see Funding Strategy), along with NIMH guidance on the use of model organisms for mental health-relevant research (NOT-MH-19-053 and NOT-MH-18-058), biological investigations of genes associated with disease risk (NOT-MH-18-035), and enhancing the reliability of NIMH-supported research through rigorous study design and reporting (NOT-MH-14-004).

The NIH/NIMH Therapeutics Discovery Research webpage provides links to relevant resources and funding initiatives.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposals with the Institute contact listed below prior to the submission of their application to ascertain that their proposed work is aligned with NIMH funding priorities.

Contact

Sofiya Hupalo, Ph.D.
6001 Executive Boulevard
301-827-3752, sofiya.hupalo@nih.gov