Dr. Patricia A. Areán Named New Director of NIMH’s Division of Services and Intervention Research
• Institute Update
Patricia A. Areán, Ph.D., has been selected as the new director of the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR). She began her new role on August 13, 2023.
DSIR supports research and training programs that aim to accelerate the translation of research findings from basic and clinical studies to real-world practice settings and communities. The division seeks to generate new knowledge, methods, and technologies that can be readily applied to achieve near-and long-term improvement in mental health outcomes across diverse disorders, age groups, backgrounds, and settings.
As director of DSIR, Dr. Areán leads the funding of major national scientific research programs and ensures the coordination of scientific substance, policy, and procedural issues across NIMH’s extramural intervention and services research programs. Additionally, she serves as a representative within NIH as well as with external domestic and foreign public and private organizations on scientific and extramural policy issues. Dr. Areán also serves as a member of the NIMH Leadership Team.
Dr. Areán brings outstanding leadership skills and an advanced understanding of—and expertise in—clinical psychology, mental health research, and extramural research to her new role. She has over 30 years of experience in mental health services and intervention research and has led or been involved in numerous research studies, including clinical efficacy, effectiveness, and implementation trials. Her research uses interdisciplinary approaches to develop new treatments for use in health care settings and the redesign of existing mental health interventions so that they can be better used by clinicians and consumers.
Dr. Areán comes to NIMH from the University of Washington, where she served as the director of the NIMH-funded Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) Research Center. She has received numerous honors and awards for her mentorship, disparities research, and contributions to geriatric psychology and health services research. Dr. Areán provided service to multiple professional publications, including serving as associate editor of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. She has also been a frequent grant reviewer and chair for NIMH study sections and served as a member of NIMH’s National Advisory Mental Health Council.
Dr. Areán earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Boston University, her master's degree in psychology from Adelphi University, and her doctorate in clinical psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she researched the effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating depression in older adult populations. She completed her clinical internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and her postdoctoral fellowship in clinical services research at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Areán succeeds Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., ABPP, who stepped down as director of DSIR and now serves as a senior advisor in the NIMH Office of the Director. During his tenure, Dr. Heinssen focused on key initiatives aimed at early risk states for psychosis, first-episode psychosis, and the rapid implementation of evidence-based services in real-world settings. Notably, Dr. Heinssen was the principal architect of the groundbreaking Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET), the nation’s first learning health care system for people with serious mental illness.
NIMH would like to thank Joel Sherrill, Ph.D., for his outstanding service as the acting director of DSIR during the interim period. Dr. Sherrill’s work on NIMH priorities such as ALACRITY and the Suicide Prevention Research Centers; diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts; and trans-NIH initiatives (such as the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative ) have been exemplary. With Dr. Areán’s appointment, Dr. Sherrill returns to the position of DSIR deputy director.
Please join NIMH in welcoming Dr. Areán to her new role as the director of NIMH’s DSIR.