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Office of Research Training and Career Development


This Research Training and Career Development Office supports research training at the predoctoral, postdoctoral, and early-stage investigator levels, in scientific areas aligned with the research priorities of the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science (DNBBS). Our primary goal is to ensure that a sufficient number of highly trained research investigators will be available to address basic research questions pertinent to mental health and mental illnesses, with the goal of transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses.

We welcome inquiries about specific funding opportunities and encourage such inquiries well in advance of the submission of your application. To learn about our research priorities, please review the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research as well as information about each of the three DNBBS branches linked on the DNBBS web page. Investigators should then contact Program staff in this Office with their BioSketch and a draft set of Specific Aims. We’ll then provide feedback about appropriate funding opportunities and the alignment of your interests with our research priorities.

Research Considerations

Research approaches:

  • We encourage research that mechanistically addresses basic neurobiological questions that are relevant to domains (cognition, emotion, and social processing), processes, or risks for mental illnesses.
  • We encourage the use of an integrative approach that spans multiple levels of analysis (e.g., from genes to molecules to circuits to systems), when feasible.
  • Limitations of analytical tools and/or methods used to assess brain signals in the context of a specific research question should be considered, and the use of the tool and/or method should be justified.
  • Lower priority is given to research plans that lack brain outcome measures, e.g., those proposing to use only behavioral and/or peripheral, surrogate measures (e.g., salivary cortisol), and research plans that propose to model mental illness syndromes (i.e., models “of” a mental illness).

Choice of species:

  • The choice of species (humans, non-human primates, other vertebrates [e.g., zebrafish], and invertebrates [e.g., fly]) should be ethologically appropriate for the functional domain(s) and /or neurobiological processes under investigation. See:
    • Institute of Medicine. 2013. Improving the Utility and Translation of Animal Models for Nervous System Disorders: Workshop Summary . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
    • Insel, TR. 2007. From animal models to model animals. Biological Psychiatry. 62(12) 1337-1339. PMID: 18054535 

Training and Career Development Plan Considerations

The following considerations apply to individual and institutional research training and career development applications (F, T, and K). Plans are expected to:

  • Incorporate state-of-the-art research methods to help ensure that applicants are prepared to conduct innovative research in the future.
  • Provide a strong foundation in experimental design, methods, and statistical/analytic techniques that is appropriate to the applicant’s career stage and prior training. Applications should take into consideration the recommendations announced in NOT-MH-14-004  and summarized in NIMH’s points to consider for enhancing the reliability of NIMH-supported research through rigorous study design and reporting.
  • Incorporate exposure to clinical perspectives and didactics in the neurobiology of mental illnesses, thereby contextualizing the proposed, basic neuroscience research program.
  • Develop those professional skills needed to transition effectively to the next research career stage, e.g., scientific communication (written and oral), grant-writing, lab management, team science, leadership development, and job search/interview skills.
  • Provide instruction in the responsible conduct of research during the first year of support.

Other considerations:

  • For individual fellowship and career development applications, the proposed mentoring plan should be individualized for the applicant, reflecting the individual’s career goals and any gap areas that would be addressed during training.
  • The NIH encourages institutions to develop Individual Development Plans (IDP) with graduate students and postdoctoral researchers (see NOT-OD-13-093 ). We expect that an IDP will be part of all mentored training and career development plans.

Additional information of interest may be found on the following web pages:

For a listing of relevant funding opportunity announcements, visit the NIMH page for Research Training, Career Development, and Related Programs.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their applications with NIMH Program Staff, ideally at least 1-2 months prior to the submission of their application, to ascertain that their proposed research is aligned with NIMH funding priorities.


Applicants should email their Specific Aims and current NIH Biosketch to and an NIMH Program Staff member will reply and provide feedback.

Ashlee Van’t Veer, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Research Training and Career Development
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7195, MSC 9645

Jamie Driscoll, B.A.
Program Officer
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7189, MSC 9641

Courtney Pinard, Ph.D.
Program Officer
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7189, MSC 9645

Cathleen Hsu, M.S.
Program Analyst
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7192D, MSC 9645

Nicole North, MPH
Program Analyst
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7192A, MSC 9645