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Mentoring Networks for Mental Health Research Education


James Churchill, Ph.D.
Mark Chavez, Ph.D.
NIMH Training Team Co-Leads


This is a re-issue of a long standing R25 program announcement that aims to support educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs. To address this goal, this initiative aims to support educational activities with a primary focus on mentoring activities and in particular, mentoring networks. Networks may be national or regional. All proposed networks should provide significant new opportunities and should comprise efforts substantially beyond ongoing mentoring, networking, or research education within academic programs, institutions, or pre-existing networks; or educational collaborations among institutions. Participants in proposed mentoring networks would be limited to graduate/medical students, medical residents, postdoctoral scholars, and/or early-career faculty. Proposed networks would be expected to enhance the participants' professional development and to foster their career trajectory towards independent mental health research. Proposed programs would thus be expected to contribute to the development of a skilled cadre of investigators in requisite scientific research areas to advance the objectives of the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research. The NIMH expects all programs to foster the participation of individuals from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research, individuals with disabilities, and women.


While there is no universally accepted definition of scientific mentoring, it is widely recognized as an important element for career development. Recommendations made by National Advisory Mental Health Council Workgroups on Research Training and Neurodevelopment encourage the NIMH to support programs that provide state-of-the-art, pedagogical opportunities for individuals during the formative stages of their careers. The recommendations of the Workgroup on Research Training also acknowledge the important role that mentors play in the career development of scientists. Formalized networks of mentors offer the added advantage of:

  • Complementing and/or enhancing the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs;
  • Encouraging individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, to pursue further studies or careers in research;
  • Helping recruit individuals with specific specialty or disciplinary backgrounds to research careers in biomedical, behavioral and clinical sciences;
  • Fostering a better understanding of biomedical, behavioral and clinical research and its implications.