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National Institute of Mental Health James S. Jackson Memorial Award

A group of diverse researchers at a table. A Latino woman teaching. A black man reviewing brain scans on a computer. An older black woman mentoring a student.

2024 James S. Jackson Memorial Award 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is pleased to announce that Anna Lau, Ph.D., has been selected as the 2024 James S. Jackson Memorial Award winner. The NIMH James S. Jackson Memorial Award was established in 2021 to honor outstanding researchers who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in minority mental health and mental health disparities research, community engagement, and mentorship.

Nominee description

NIMH seeks nominations from the field for exceptional minority mental health and/or mental health disparities researchers who exemplify:

  • Mentorship and learning environment: Demonstrate excellence in mentorship and have substantial influence on the academic and professional pursuits of trainees, particularly in supporting trainees from populations underrepresented in the U.S. research enterprise. The ideal candidate will have fostered a positive learning environment that is respectful, nurturing, and promotes diversity and accessibility in academic training, and is passionate about equity beyond research. 
  • Scholarship: Demonstrate outstanding achievements in minority mental health and/or mental health disparities research of exceptional quality, originality, innovation, and significant impact on the field to situate the candidate as a leader among peers. 
  • Community service, inclusivity, and outreach: Demonstrate commitment to community outreach and presents a trajectory of recognized community engagement activities that embodies the spirit of diversity and inclusion. If applicable, seeks guidance from community partners at multiple stages of research.

Nomination criteria

Specific nomination criteria are outlined below and should be clearly demonstrated in the nominee’s application packet (see description for details). Previous applicants are allowed and encouraged to re-apply.   
All nominees must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States (please acknowledge in CV)
  • Have an established record of independent research in mental health
  • Demonstrate a record of promoting scientific and academic excellence, including but not limited to teaching and other scholastic activities
  • Have made innovative and significant contributions in minority mental health and/or mental health disparities research towards identifying, developing, testing, and/or implementing strategies to achieve equity.
  • Demonstrate excellence in mentorship and genuine dedication to fostering personal and professional growth in junior staff, trainees, and others.
  • Demonstrate success in training and supporting the next generation of scholars, including those from diverse backgrounds.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to impactful community engagement through research that fosters connections and contributes to community wellbeing.

Application packet

Individuals who wish to be considered for the NIMH James S. Jackson Memorial Award must submit (or have submitted on their behalf) an application packet with the following materials:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • One (1) example of a peer-reviewed publication or manuscript that best represents the substance and rigor of the candidate’s work in mental health disparities and/or minority mental health
  • Applicants will be evaluated on their record of mentorship, scholarship, and community engagement. These components are equally regarded. As such, please provide a two-three page, single-spaced narrative statement that responds to the prompts below. Feel free to include discussion of non-peer reviewed publications and/or projects that have had an impact on the field when responding to the prompts:
    • Mentorship: Please describe your commitment to mentorship and accomplishments in mentoring a new generation of minority mental health and/or mental health disparities researchers. Provide clear examples of your excellence in mentorship, such as fostering a respectful and inclusive learning environment, your mentoring philosophy, the number of people you have mentored (including those from diverse backgrounds), and their accomplishments and ways you have nurtured their career trajectories.
    • Scholarship: Please describe your record of scientific and academic research in minority mental health and/or mental health disparities. This should include clinical and/or basic research activities. Provide clear examples, including publications, manuscripts, or research products, committee and professional involvement, presentations and other specific contributions that best represent the substance and rigor of your work in minority mental health and/or mental health disparities. 
    • Community engagement: Please describe your commitment to community engagement and outreach. Discuss the degree to which it embodies the spirit of diversity and inclusion. Provide clear examples of how you have engaged with the community in your professional and personal activities. If you have partnerships and/or collaborations with community members, explain how those collaborations have enhanced your work within the community to address disparities or to enhance diversity and inclusion. If you conduct research with community partners, discuss the extent to which you seek the guidance of such partners at each stage of research.  
  • Two (2) recommendation letters emailed or submitted separately from the remainder of the package. One (1) letter must be either from a mentee or a community partner and should include specific examples of fostering a positive, respectful, nurturing work environment.

The chosen winner will receive a $5,000 award prize. 

Background information

This award is named in honor of the late Dr. James S. Jackson , a renowned social psychologist who was the Daniel Katz Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Jackson’s research on race, ethnicity, racism, health, and mental health has had far-reaching impacts on the fields of disparities research and minority mental health. Of particular significance, he authored the National Survey of Black Americans and the National Survey of American Life, which changed the way the field examined and understood Black life and mental health in the United States.

To acknowledge Dr. Jackson’s great impact on the fields of disparities research, minority mental health and his commitment to mentoring trainees, NIMH will honor an outstanding researcher who has demonstrated exceptional individual achievement and leadership in mental health disparities research and excellence in mentorship, influence, and support of trainees.


For questions regarding the NIMH James Jackson Award, please email

James S. Jackson Memorial Award Winners

Headshot of 2024 James S. Jackson Award Winner, Dr. Anna Lau.

2024 Winner: Anna Lau, Ph.D.

Learn more about Anna Lau, Ph.D.