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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Mental Health Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs)


Dianne Rausch, Ph.D.
Division of AIDS Research/Center for Global Mental Health Research and the Global Mental Health Team


Mental illnesses are a global concern, presenting shared opportunities to advance science across international boundaries. The goal of this initiative is to support the scientific work and research career development of exceptionally talented scientists who are in the early, formative stages of their careers and who plan to make a long-term career commitment to mental health research. This initiative seeks to assist these individuals in launching an innovative basic, translational, clinical, or services research program that holds the potential to profoundly transform the understanding, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of mental illnesses in low resource international settings.


The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for recovery, prevention, and cure. A foundation of this mission is to support the next generation of exceptionally talented and creative scientists who are dedicated to producing the scientific knowledge that will help to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure mental illnesses across diverse populations. Investigators from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) currently are underrepresented in mental health research, curtailing our ability to partner and learn with other countries in conducting research on shared priorities. It also inhibits our ability to incorporate the full range of genetic, cultural, social, and environmental variability found worldwide in mental health research, and thereby to better understand the mechanisms that underlie mental illnesses and identify new and better intervention targets.

In order to identify outstanding basic, translational, clinical and services investigators and assist them in launching innovative research programs at an early stage in their career, NIMH established the Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) program in 2009. The BRAINS program creates a unique opportunity for innovative early stage investigators to advance NIMH research with applications that demonstrate a high level of risk, ambitious research plans, and a lower emphasis on preliminary data than is generally required for research awards. The current program will complement the BRAINS program by supporting similarly talented investigators from LMIC countries, who are conducting research that aligns with NIMH scientific priorities. This includes but is not limited to: enhancing our fundamental understanding of mental illnesses, transforming prevention and treatment of mental illnesses, and translating evidence into practice and policy.