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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR)


The Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR) supports programs of research and research training that aim to accelerate translation of research findings from basic and clinical studies to real-world practice settings and communities, where findings can be applied to improve public health.
The Division seeks to generate new knowledge, methods, and technologies that can be readily applied to achieve near- and long-term improvement in mental health outcomes across diverse disorders, age groups, backgrounds, and settings.

DSIR-supported research aligns with Objectives 3.2 and 3.3 and 4.1–4.3 of the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research, and addresses questions related to the efficacy and effectiveness of existing interventions and innovations for improving clinical practice and health care delivery in traditional and community settings.

The Division encourages research to reduce mental health disparities and promote equity in access, quality, and effectiveness of mental health care available in the United States.

DSIR supports a range of extramural research, research training, career development, and scientific resource and technology transfer programs through its various branches and offices, including:

  • Treatment and preventive interventions research, supported through the Treatment and Preventive Intervention Research Branch, to develop and test strategies for tailoring and optimizing existing evidence-based interventions; and confirmatory efficacy and effectiveness research that generates information for persons seeking care, family members, practitioners, community settings, and policy makers about preventive and treatment interventions that produce the greatest benefit in real-world environments.
  • Mental health services research, supported through the Services Research and Clinical Epidemiology Branch, to develop and test service delivery strategies for improving the quality, effectiveness, continuity, and value of mental health services; increasing access to high quality mental health care for children, adolescents, youth, and adults from diverse communities; and implementing and sustaining evidence-based practices in traditional and non-traditional health care and community settings.
  • Research training, education, and career development grant mechanisms, supported through the Office of Research Training and Career Development, to cultivate a mental health research workforce that is diverse, skilled in innovative treatment, prevention, and services research designs and methods, and equipped to meet emerging scientific and public health challenges in mental health care and outcomes.
  • Application of innovative technologies, supported through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs, to improve screening, diagnosis, clinical assessment, data collection, and quality monitoring tools for clinical trials and services research studies; advance the treatment of mental disorders; and new approaches to training, supervision, and continuing education for researchers and evidence-based practitioners.

Areas of high priority

Areas of High Priority for the Division are described below. In addition, DSIR continues to encourage innovative investigator-initiated applications in any area relevant to the mission of the Institute.

  • Reduce disparities and advance equity in mental health interventions, services, and outcomes for racial and ethnic minority groups, individuals limited by language or cultural barriers, sexual and gender minorities, individuals living in rural areas, socioeconomically disadvantaged persons, and other underserved groups.
  • Reduce the significant morbidity and mortality associated with self-harm and suicide thoughts and behaviors through research on early detection, assessment, crisis services, and both brief and longer-term interventions for at-risk individuals from diverse populations and treatment settings.
  • Develop, test, and implement interventions and services strategies to improve independent living skills, social functioning, post-secondary education, initial employment, and quality of life for people with autism spectrum disorder across the lifespan.
  • Support transdisciplinary teams of clinical and mental health services researchers, behavioral and social scientists, health economists, health information and communications technologists, health systems engineers, decision scientists, and mental health stakeholders to engage in high-impact studies that will significantly advance clinical practice in the United States.
  • Advance learning health care principles of measurement-based treatment, continuous improvement and innovation in care delivery, and rigorous practice-based research in community behavioral health clinics and other treatment settings.
  • Develop and test integrated treatment, prevention, and service delivery approaches for complex disorders, e.g., comorbidities among mental disorders, substance abuse, and physical health conditions, that can be implemented seamlessly in primary care and other health systems.
  • Test the efficacy and effectiveness of developmentally focused preventive interventions delivered in various contexts and settings, and the implementation of effective interventions at scale in communities in a sustainable manner.
  • Develop, refine, and apply innovative design, measurement, data acquisition and processing, and statistical approaches to advance clinical trials, services research, and implementation science methodologies.


Patricia Areán, Ph.D.
6001 Executive Boulevard

Deputy director

Joel Sherrill, Ph.D.
6001 Executive Boulevard