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The Center for Global Mental Health Research Webinar Series 2023: Real-World Opportunities and Challenges: Using NIMH's Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Framework in Global Mental Health Research


September 20, 2023




This webinar discussed the National Institute of Mental Health’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative and its potential to inform (and be informed by) global mental health research. RDoC is a research framework that encourages the investigation of mental disorders from a perspective of basic functional dimensions (e.g., cognitive control), using many types of information – from genomics and neuroscience to behavior and environmental measures. The webinar included an introduction to the RDoC framework and featured presentations from two research groups whose work incorporates RDoC approaches globally.


Read the transcript.

About the Speakers

Vikram Patel, Ph.D. , is The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health at the Harvard Medical School, where he chairs the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. He leads the Mental Health for All Lab, which focuses on the social determinant of mental health problems and the use of community resources for their prevention and treatment. He co-founded Sangath, an award-winning Indian NGO that pioneered approaches to achieve mental health equity. He is a Fellow of the UK's Academy of Medical Sciences and a U.S. National Academy of Medicine member.

Supriya Bhavnani, Ph.D. , is a Co-Principal Investigator in the Child Development Group at Sangath, India. She leads a translational neuroscience research program to develop and validate innovative digital tools, including eye tracking, gamified neuropsychological tasks, and electroencephalography, to assess brain development through the crucial preschool years of early childhood at scale to identify children faltering in their developmental trajectories and enable early interventions. Her research also investigates the determinants of childhood development, focusing on the impact of psychosocial adversities on children’s well-being. She has received the prestigious INSPIRE faculty award and the Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award from the Government of India.

Lerato Majara, Ph.D. , is a postdoctoral research fellow on the Neuropsychiatric Genetics in African Populations (NeuroGAP) project and a member of the Global Initiative of Neuropsychiatric Genetics Education and Research (GINGER) program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Majara’s research interests are the genetics of psychiatric disorders and the transferability of polygenic risk scores across and within African populations.

Olivia Wootton, M.D.,  is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town. Her research is focused on the contribution of common genetic variants to cognitive function in the general population and in people with schizophrenia. Dr. Wootton is particularly interested in the clinical relevance of neurogenetic research, including the potential impact of molecular genetics on prognostic and diagnostic assessments and treatment strategies.

Dan J. Stein, M.D., Ph.D. , is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town and Director of the South African Medical Research Council’s Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders. Dr. Stein is interested in research on anxiety and related disorders, building mental health research capacity in the African context, and working at the intersection of philosophy and psychiatry.

The NIMH RDoC Unit is dedicated to furthering the goals of the RDoC initiative and overseeing various RDoC-related activities. Unit members include Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D. (Head), Sarah Morris, Ph.D. (Associate Head), Rebecca Berman, Ph.D., Jenni Pacheco, Ph.D., and Syed Rizvi (M.P.H.). Their collective experience spans clinical psychology, public health, cognitive neuroscience, and psychopathology. Together, they collaborate with the RDoC working group and partnering organizations to promote new research approaches to improve mental health.

About the Center for Global Mental Health Research Webinar Series

The Center for Global Mental Health Research, part of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is hosting a series of webinars focused on applying for and managing global mental health research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We encourage students, post-docs, and new investigators interested in global mental health research to attend. The webinar series aims to increase knowledge about NIH structure and grant processes and enhance global mental health research capacity.

Sponsored by

The Center for Global Mental Health Research