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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

NIMH Faculty Development Award to Promote Diversity in Mental Health Research

Presenter:

Ishmael Amarreh, Ph.D., M.P.A.
Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity

Goal:

The goal of this concept is to enhance the diversity of the mental health research workforce by supporting early career faculty investigators from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences who propose mentored research projects consistent with NIMH’s mission and research priorities. This concept proposes a program to support early career faculty investigators who have earned a Ph.D., M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. and are not current or former independent program directors and principal investigators on other major NIH awards (e.g., R01). The program would provide research support for a period of mentored career development in preparation for launching an independent research career.

Rationale:

NIH and NIMH are committed to enhancing diversity in the NIH-funded biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences workforce (see NOT-OD-20-031). Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogeneous groups. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. Many benefits flow from a diverse NIH/NIMH-supported scientific workforce, including fostering scientific innovation; enhancing global competitiveness; contributing to robust learning environments; advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in and benefit from health research; and enhancing public trust.

The early stage of a faculty career is a period when institutional research support may not be readily available, may decline, or may terminate altogether. NIH support can be critically important to building a successful research career. This concept proposes a program that would expand the period of the eligibility for mentored career development programs beyond that of existing NIMH-supported programs. This concept aims to enhance mental health research workforce diversity by supporting such individuals conducting NIMH-relevant research at a crucial and potentially vulnerable phase of their research careers, the transition to becoming an independent investigator.