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2015 Spring Inside NIMH

Inside NIMH Spring Edition

Welcome to the latest edition of Inside NIMH. We publish Inside NIMH in conjunction with each meeting of the National Advisory Mental Health Council, which advises the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Director of NIMH on all policies and activities relating to the conduct and support of mental health research, research training, and other programs of the Institute. In addition, check out the NIMH Director's Blog for regular updates on timely topics at NIMH. I hope you find this information interesting and helpful. Please let us know if you have questions or comments on this edition.


Tom Insel, MD
Director, National Institute of Mental Health

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Message from the NIMH Director

It is Spring, the bird is on the wing, and the 2015 NIMH Strategic Plan for Research has arrived! With new plans, new initiatives, and new leadership, we’re kicking off a springtime rejuvenation at NIMH for the years to come.

NIMH Strategic Plan for Research

  • 2015 NIMH Strategic Plan for Research: Against a backdrop of rapid scientific advances and dramatic changes in the landscape of mental health care, NIMH has issued a new Strategic Plan for Research. The new plan updates the Strategic Objectives of its 2008 predecessor with the aim of balancing the need for long-term investments in basic research with the urgent mental health needs of today.  The plan provides a framework to accelerate the pace of scientific progress by generating research that will have the greatest public health impact and continue to fuel the transformation of mental health care. The four Objectives of the Plan describe the continuum of mental health research:
    1. Define the mechanisms of complex behaviors.
    2. Chart mental illness trajectories to determine when, where, and how to intervene.
    3. Strive for prevention and cures.
    4. Strengthen the public health impact of NIMH-supported research.
    These four Objectives form a broad roadmap for NIMH’s research priorities over the next five years. NIMH has highlighted several cross-cutting themes in the Strategic Plan which investigators are strongly encouraged to consider in proposed studies, including the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Project, the BRAIN Initiative , and the Institute’s experimental medicine approach, in which ‘targets’ refer to hypothesized mechanisms of action and their ability to modify disease, behavior, or functional outcomes, and in which the underlying assumption is that modification of the target will result in improvement of symptoms, behavior, or functional outcomes. Other cross-cutting themes include the role of the environment, preemption through early intervention, the consideration of sex differences as biological variables, mental health disparities, and the importance of maintaining a global perspective on mental health care.  The NIMH Strategic Plan for Research is available in print and can also be read online or downloaded as a PDF.
  • Strategic Research Priorities:  NIMH recognizes that soliciting applications most germane to achieving Objectives of the Strategic Plan for Research necessitates more detailed guidance on specifics encompassed by the Strategies within the Plan.  The information within the Strategic Research Priorities pages will be updated periodically to represent the Institute’s most current interests, and we encourage you to check the site for the most recent insights on research needs.  We invite the scientific community to apply for funding in these priority areas whether using parent announcements for investigator-initiated applications, Program Announcements, and Requests for Applications. By using the Plan to guide funding decisions, we hope to accelerate the translation of research findings into public health impact.

Budget Overview

  • FY 2015 Budget: NIMH anticipates awarding over 500 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2015, with an estimated success rate of 18% (see Figure 1). FY 2015 will be the fourth consecutive year that NIMH has exceeded 500 competing RPGs. Overall, as in past years, NIMH expects to support at least 75% of the applications up to the 20th percentile. Moreover, the Institute will give special consideration to applications from early stage investigators. With the exception of specific programmatic adjustments, NIMH will fully fund modular and non-modular grant awards. Future year commitments for modular grant awards are expected to remain consistent with the FY 2015 awarded amount. For competing non-modular awards, future-year commitments will be reduced, on average, 10% from the recommended funding levels and will not include inflationary increases. For non-competing continuation awards, grants will be made at the committed level.
    Fig 1: Research project Grants Applications, Awards, Success Rates for 2012 - 2016. This chart shows the number of NIMH research project grants applications, awards, and success rates from 2012 to 2016 projected budget. In 2012, NIMH received over 2,500 applications and awarded 584 grants, resulting in a success rate of 22%. In 2013, NIMH received over 2,500 applications and awarded 512 grants, resulting in a success rate of 19%. In 2014, NIMH recieved over 2,500 applications and awarded 548 gra
  • Outlook for FY 2016: In February 2015, the President submitted his FY 2016 budget request to Congress. The request for NIH is $31.08 billion, an increase of $1 billion over the FY 2015 operating level, including an increase of $70M for the BRAIN initiative. The request for NIMH is $1.5 billion, an increase of $56 million over the FY 2015 operating budget. The NIMH budget request increases BRAIN Initiative  funding by $23 million, for a total of $48.2 million, and includes $5 million in new funding for the Precision Medicine Initiative .
  • Figure 2 below shows the NIMH budget in appropriated (current) versus constant (FY 1998) dollars. Constant dollars are “inflation adjusted” for variations in the purchasing power of the dollar over time. Dollar amounts are adjusted based on the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI). The annual change in BRDPI indicates how much the NIH budget must change to maintain purchasing power similar to FY 1998.
  • Both House and Senate Appropriations Sub-Committees have held NIH hearings with several NIH Institute and Center Directors. It is unclear when the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill, which contains the NIH appropriation, will be introduced. Spending level determined by sequestration in the Budget Control Act of 2011 could be instituted absent any congressional action otherwise. In addition to the regular appropriation process, budget discussions this year have included the 21st Century Cures legislation. The current draft of this legislation includes $10 billion mandatory spending for NIH, over five years, for an Innovation Fund, above and beyond the budget appropriated. As of this date, the specifics of this Fund are being debated.
    Figure 2: This chart shows NIMH program funding level in two measures, appropriated dollars and appropriated 1998 dollars, stated in millions, for fiscal years 1998 to 2016. FY 1998 appropriated amount was over $700 million. FY1999 appropriated and 1998 dollar appropriated amounts were over $800M. FY 2000 appropriated amount, and 1998 dollar appropriated amounts, were over $900M. FY 2001 appropriated amount was over $1000M and 1998 dollar appropriated amount was $1000M. FY 2002 appropriated amou

Program Updates

  • BRAIN Initiative: On September 30, 2014, NIH announced its first wave of grants in support of the BRAIN Initiative. This initial round of awards—to more than 100 investigators in 15 states and several countries—totaled $46 million to support the goal of developing tools for a deeper understanding of the brain that will ultimately catalyze new treatments and cures for devastating brain disorders. A second round of funding announcments , including several announcements led by NIMH (see the New Announcements about Funding Opportunities section below), were released in November and December 2014. For more information about NIMH-led BRAIN Initiative announcements, please contact
  • EPINET: The new NIMH Strategic Plan for Research drives the Institute in several new directions – one of the most audacious is a focus on preventing psychosis. Last year, NIMH launched a series of studies to define preventive interventions to reduce psychosis. The next step will be creating a network of centers for the prodrome and first episode care called the Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET) to reduce the number of first psychotic episodes from 100,000 to below 50,000 each year. By 2016, NIMH plans to launch this new effort to align science and clinical practice with a goal of preventing psychosis in high-risk individuals and ensuring recovery for those who have had a first episode of psychosis.
  • NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience: The NIH Blueprint  is a collaboration among 15 participating NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices that support research on the nervous system. While the BRAIN Initiative is concerned with the development and application of innovative technologies for interrogating circuit activity in the nervous system, the NIH Blueprint focuses more broadly on all aspects of research on the nervous system that have the potential to transform our basic understanding of the brain and our approaches to treating brain disorders. In April 2015, the Blueprint released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from the scientific community on how the Blueprint might best do so in the future (NOT-NS-15-020 ). The RFI closed on May 25, 2015. Responses will inform strategic planning activites at the upcoming July 2015 Blueprint Retreat.
  • Follow that Cell!: NIH has selected 16 finalists for Phase 1 of its Follow that Cell Challenge . The goal of the challenge is to stimulate the development of new tools and methods that will enable researchers to predict the behavior and function of a single cell in complex tissue over time.  The Follow that Cell Challenge is part of the America COMPETES  initiative and was issued by NIMH and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, on behalf of the NIH Common Fund’s Single Cell Analysis Program. During Phase 1 of the challenge, innovators across a wide range of fields were encouraged to propose theoretical solutions for tracking and analyzing the behavior and function of individual cells over a period of minutes, hours, and even days. Of the 16 finalists, five prize winners were selected to receive monetary prizes totaling $88,000 and will now advance—along with the additional 11 finalists—to the challenge’s second phase, which requires innovators to generate proof-of-concept data.
  • GTEx Data: Researchers funded by the NIH Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx)  program have created a new and highly anticipated data resource, the GTEx Portal , to support studies of how differences in an individual’s genetic make-up affect gene activity and contribute to disease. The new resource will enable scientists to examine the underlying genomics of many different types of human tissues and cells concurrently, and to conduct genome-wide association studies of the roles that genomic variants play in disease. GTEx investigators reported initial findings from a two-year pilot study in several papers appearing online May 7, 2015, in Science and other journals. NIH launched the GTEx program in 2010 to create a reference database and tissue bank for scientists to study how genomic variants may affect gene activity and disease susceptibility. Investigators are collecting more than 30 tissue types from autopsy or organ donations and tissue transplant programs, and analyzing both DNA and RNA from samples. The project will eventually include tissue samples from about 900 deceased donors, including nearly 400 brain donors. The project is supported by the NIH Common Fund  and administered by the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIMH, and the National Cancer Institute. In addition to the GTEx program, NIMH also co-leads the Common Fund’s Healthcare System Research Collaboratory program , with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
  • NIMH Outreach Partnership Program: NIMH has selected 48 new Partners for its Outreach Partnership Program. Outreach Partners have been awarded in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to disseminate the latest research findings and science-based information from NIMH and NIMH-funded researchers about the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders, and to educate the public about the importance of research and the opportunities to participate in studies being conducted at the NIH campus, and by NIMH-funded researchers in their States.

NIMH Staff News

  • Director, Division of Translational Research: NIMH is pleased to announce that Sarah Hollingsworth Lisanby, MD will be joining NIMH as Director of the Division of Translational Research this fall. Dr. Lisanby will also continue her research part-time, developing new tools for neuromodulation in the NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP). She comes to NIMH from Duke University, where she is currently serving as Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and holds the J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry endowed chair. Dr. Lisanby is a leader in the area of neuromodulatory interventions for treating major depression, serving as a principal investigator on studies that range from basic research through clinical trials. Dr. Lisanby’s prodigious research life has been matched by extensive service to NIMH and beyond. She has been a member of the NIMH Board of Scientific Counselors since 2013, and has chaired or been a member of a variety of NIH Study Sections since 2004. Dr. Lisanby also has a strong record of mentoring, personally nurturing over 50 individuals in the past 10 years. We welcome her to NIMH.
  • Changes in the NIMH IRP: NIMH has had several additional recent depatures and arrivals in the IRP. De-Maw Chuang, PhD retired in the fall of 2014, after more than 40 years in the IRP. Dr. Chuang conducted pioneering work on neuroprotective properties of lithium and valproate in preclinical models, publishing more than 250 peer-reviewed articles which have been cited over 15,000 times. Jay Giedd, MD departed NIMH after 23 years in the IRP, to become the Chair of the Child and Adult Psychiatry Division at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Giedd is highly regarded for his longitudinal studies of brain development, with a major focus on the adolescent brain. Yogita Chudasama, PhD will be joining the IRP faculty in fall 2015 to continue her own research program and oversee a behavioral core facility. Dr. Chudasama is currently a tenured faculty member in psychology at McGill University, where she studies how fronto-temporal circuitry affects normal cognitive and emotional behavior. She is also an expert in rodent and marmoset behavior. Thomas Lehner, PhD, the Director of the NIMH Office for Genomics Research Coordination, has been appointed as the Senior Genomics Advisor in the Office of the Scientific Director, NIMH IRP. Dr. Lehner will serve as a liaison between the NIMH IRP and other intramural programs at NIH, in order to leverage resources and efforts across ICs where possible. In addition, he will also serve as a bridge to the extramural efforts at NIMH with regard to genomics research.
  • Jane Steinberg, PhD retired from her position as Director of the NIMH Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) in April 2015, after nearly 35 years of federal service. Dr. Steinberg earned her doctorate in Social and Educational Psychology from Syracuse University. She completed her postdoctoral work at the Ohio State University Hospital, where she evaluated programs and provided interdisciplinary consultation on social education issues with multiply-disabled children. Dr. Steinberg began her career at the NIMH in 1980, serving in many roles, including Executive Secretary, Acting Director of the Clinical Division, and Director of DEA, a position she held for the last 15 years. Dr. Steinberg served a key leadership role in many NIH-level activities, including the establishment of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences as well as several large-scale enhancements to the NIH peer review process. Dr. Steinberg was frequently called upon to serve on Committees for the hiring of senior NIH executives, and also served as the Executive Secretary to the National Advisory Mental Health Council. We wish her all the best and thank her for her service to NIMH and NIH.

Director’s Highlights: NIMH Scientists and Science

Grantee Awards

NIMH is proud to recognize significant achievement and awards received by our current grantees:

  • Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research:
    • Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD (Stanford Univerity)
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Election:
    • Marc Caron, PhD (Duke University, 2015)
    • Nathan Fox, PhD (University of Maryland, College Park, 2014)
  • American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Presidential Election:
    • Anissa Abi-Dargham, MD (New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University)
  • American Psychiatric Association, Presidential Election:
    • Maria Oquendo, PhD (New York State Psychiatric Institute)
  • Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Career/Lifetime Achievement Award:
    • Lauren Alloy, PhD (Temple University)
  • Foundation for the NIH, Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences:
    • Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD (Stanford Univerity)
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute 2015 Investigators:
    • Loren Frank, PhD (University of California, San Francisco)
    • Doris Tsao, PhD (California Institute of Technology)
  • Lasker Clinical Research Scholar Award:
    • Armin Raznahan, MD, PhD (National Institute of Mental Health, DIRP)
    • Society for Research in Psychopathology, Joseph Zubin Award for Lifetime Achievement in Psychopathology Research:
      • Lauren Alloy, PhD (Temple University)

Notable NIMH Grants

Here is a selection of the Institute’s most recently funded projects that exemplify our efforts to accelerate mental health research and to advance the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research:

  • Numerous recent studies have revealed that several mental illnesses have a shared genetic basis, and in particular, a similar causation in the form of variations in the genes responsible for how neurons connect and adhere to transmit messages. Marcus Wernig, MD and Thomas Südhof, MD  (Stanford University) are extending their longstanding collaboration to investigate the molecular structure of cellular adhesion machinery at the synapse, the site of such message transmission.  In previous work, the team developed a protocol for converting induced human stem cells into mature neurons.  The current project takes that innovative technology and uses it to thoroughly analyze the molecular and cellular machinery of actual neurons and their synapses, and then analyze the effect of mutations linked to autism spectrum disorder on synaptic location and function.
  • Many adults with bipolar disorder appear to experience an excess or accelerated degree of cognitive deficits and other functional decline as they age. Lisa Eyler, PhD  and colleagues (University of California, San Diego) are conducting an innovative study of inflammatory and mood markers as potential predictors for the trajectories of cognitive dysfunction seen in middle-aged and older adults with bipolar disorder, as compared with healthy adults. The study utilizes innovative methods to control for the confounding effects of symptom fluctuation on cognitive performance and for inflammatory changes over time in bipolar disorder.  Further, due to its multi-cohort longitudinal design, this study will be able to estimate long-range trajectories as well as shorter-term cognitive changes over a relatively abbreviated study period of several years. If successful, the project may identify immunological mechanisms that can be targeted for intervention in order to prevent or reduce functional decline in bipolar disorder.
  • Emerging and ongoing stressful events in the life of a child or adolescent (e.g., expulsion from school, eviction from home, family member illness) frequently interfere with the delivery of evidence-based treatment by raising the risk that a mental health treatment provider will stray from a planned session agenda. Bruce Chorpita, PhD (University of California, Los Angeles) is developing a framework to understand how these events disrupt treatment delivery, and how provider responses to such events are associated with clinical outcomes. The study will focus on children and adolescents treated in community mental health settings. The project aims to inform the development of a structured, universal strategy to minimize the impact of stressful life events that emerge during the course of treatment on treatment delivery and outcomes. Study findings may contribute to our understanding of the nature and impact of unanticipated, real-time threats to treatment fidelity, and the study has the potential to inform strategies that treatment providers can use to anticipate, address, and manage disclosures of stressful life events.

For more information on these and other grants selected for funding, please visit the NIH RePORTER website .

New Announcements about Funding Opportunities

NIH electronically posts the NIH GUIDE , a listing of all NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), including requests for applications (RFAs), program announcements (PAs), and important notices for the scientific community. Below is a selection of recently issued FOAs in which NIMH participates. The Funding page on the NIMH website has links to listings of all NIMH FOAs and other resources.

Note: You can subscribe to the NIMH Funding Opportunities ListServ  to receive the latest information about RFAs and other research funding opportunities from NIMH, as well as administrative updates and changes to grant policies and procedures. You can also subscribe to a separate listserv to receive weekly e-mails of the NIH GUIDE .

NIMH-Administered Requests for Applications

  • Psychiatric Gene Networks: Solving the Molecular Puzzle of Psychiatric Disorders
    • Release date: March 25, 2015; Application due date: June 29, 2015
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-300 )
  • Psychiatric Gene Networks: Solving the Molecular Puzzle of Psychiatric Disorders
    • Release date: March 25, 2015; Application due date: June 29, 2015
    • Collaborative R01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-310 )
  • Research Partnerships for Scaling Up Mental Health Interventions in Low-and Middle-Income Countries
    • Release date: April 16, 2015; Application due date: July 16, 2015
    • U19 announcement (RFA-MH-16-350 )
  • Methodologies to Enhance Understanding of HIV Associated Social Determinants
    • Release date: March 24, 2015; Application due date: August 20, 2015
    • R21 announcement (RFA-MH-16-205 )
  • Methodologies to Enhance Understanding of HIV Associated Social Determinants
    • Release date: March 24, 2015; Application due date: August 20, 2015
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-200 )
  • The Role of Exosomes in HIV Neuropathogenesis
    • Release date: March 20, 2015; Application due date: September 3, 2015
    • R21 announcement (RFA-MH-16-110 )
  • The Role of Exosomes in HIV Neuropathogenesis
    • Release date: March 20, 2015; Application due date: September 3, 2015
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-100 )
  • Lifespan Human Connectome Project
    • Release date: April 3, 2015; Application due date: September 4, 2015
    • U01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-160 )
  • Confirmatory Efficacy Clinical Trials of Non-Pharmacological Interventions for Mental Disorders
    • Release date: March 30, 2015; First application due date: October 15, 2016
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-425 )
  • Clincal Trials to Test the Effectiveness of Treatment, Preventive, and Services Interventions
    • Release date: March 30, 2015; First application due date: October 15, 2016
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-420 )
  • Clincal Trials to Test the Effectiveness of Treatment, Preventive, and Services Interventions
    • Release date: March 30, 2015; First application due date: October 15, 2016
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-415 )
  • Pilot Effectiveness Trials for Treatment, Preventive and Services Interventions
    • Release date: March 30, 2015; First application due date: October 15, 2016
    • R34 announcement (RFA-MH-16-410 )
  • Exploratory Clinical Trials of Novel Interventions for Mental Disorders
    • Release date: March 30, 2015; First application due date: October 15, 2016
    • R33 announcement (RFA-MH-16-400 )
  • NIMH Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists
    • Release date: June 11, 2014; Application due date: October 25, 2016
    • R33 announcement (RFA-MH-15-600 )

NIMH-Collaborative Requests for Applications

  • Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Advancing Biomedical Science Using Crowdsourcing and Interactive Digital
    • Release date: February 23, 2015; Application due date: June 4, 2015
    • UH2 announcement (RFA-CA-15-006 )
  • Lifespan Human Connectome Project: Development
    • Release date: February 6, 2015; Application due date: June 16, 2015
    • U01 announcement (RFA-MH-16-150 )
  • Lifespan Human Connectome Project: Aging
    • Release date: February 6, 2015; Application due date: June 16, 2015
    • U01 announcement (RFA-AG-16-004 )
  • Undiagnosed Diseases Gene Function Research
    • Release date: April 16, 2015; Application due date: June 24, 2015
    • R21 announcement (RFA-RM-15-004 )
  • Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse
    • Release date: May 6, 2015; Application due date: July 14, 2015
    • U24 announcement (RFA-EB-15-005 )
  • Limited Competition: International epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS
    • Release date: April 10, 2015; Application due date: July 17, 2015
    • U01 announcement (RFA-AI-154-017 )
  • Predoctoral Training in Biomedical Big Data  Science
    • Release date: April 22, 2014; Application due date: July 28, 2015
    • T32 announcement (RFA-HG-14-004 )
  • NIH-PEPFAR Collaboration on Implementation Science for HIV: Towards an AIDS-free Generation
    • Release date: April 24, 2014; Application due date: July 29, 2015
    • R21 announcement (RFA-AI-15-021 )
  • NIH-PEPFAR Collaboration on Implementation Science for HIV: Towards an AIDS-free Generation
    • Release date: April 24, 2014; Application due date: July 29, 2015
    • R01 announcement (RFA-AI-15-020 )
  • Open Educational Resources for Biomedical Big Data
    • Release date: January 16, 2014; Application due date: September 19, 2015
    • R25 announcement (RFA-HG-14-009 )
  • Courses for Skills Development in Biomedical Big Data Science
    • Release date: January 16, 2014; Application due date: September 19, 2015
    • R25 announcement (RFA-HG-14-008 )
  • NIH Pioneer Award Program
    • Release date: August 8, 2013; October 10, 2015
    • DP1 announcement (RFA-RM-13-006 )
  • NIH Director's New Innovator Award Program
    • Release date: August 8, 2013; Application due date: October 17, 2015
    • DP2 announcement (RFA-RM-13-007 )
  • Open Educational Resources for Biomedical Big Data
    • Release date: January 16, 2014; Application due date: April 2, 2016
    • R25 announcement (RFA-HG-14-009 )
  • Courses for Skills Development in Biomedical Big Data Science
    • Release date: January 16, 2014; Application due date: April 2, 2016
    • R25 announcement (RFA-HG-14-008 )
  • Revisions to Add Biomedical Big Data Training to Active Institutional Training Grants
    • Release date: April 22, 2014; Application due date: July 29, 2016
    • T32 announcement (RFA-HG-14-005 )

Future Research Directions

Concept Clearances for Potential New Research Initiatives

This listing of potential future initiatives is meant to provide the earliest possible alert to the field of our research interests and of potential upcoming announcements to solicit that research. While NIMH plans to proceed with these initiatives, their publication and timing are not certain and depend on sufficient funding. The titles and brief descriptions are consistent with the information available at the time of concept clearance. The resultant FOAs may differ from the concepts in the final wording of their titles or other aspects. To send questions about a specific concept, follow the “Submit Comments” link at the bottom of the description.

For more information, please see recent NAMHC-approved concepts, recent public venue-approved concepts, and past NAMHC meetings, which also contains links to meeting agendas, minutes, and Inside NIMH (Director’s Reports).

NIMH-Sponsored Meetings

  • Coming to Consensus on Common Data:  On March 30, 2015, the Geriatrics and Aging Processes Research Branch of the NIMH Division of Translational Research sponsored a half-day workshop at the annual meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.  The workshop brought together researchers from various sectors of the geriatric mental health research field to discuss avenues for advancing data standardization and sharing.  Participants presented information on NIMH efforts to promote data harmonization, through facilitating the inclusion of common data elements across studies, as well as on NIMH policies that encourage rapid data sharing and the use of NIMH data repositories.  Other presentations highlighted opportunities and challenges related to increasing collaboration and data sharing across studies involving genetics and aging-related biology, neuroimaging, and/or cognitive and neuropsychological assessment.  The workshop identified a number of action steps to be taken toward achieving viable means of data sharing within the field, including the production of a white paper on the issues discussed and planning for additional discussion and work groups.

Update on Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Activities

Electronic Grant Application Submission News

  • New Biosketch and SciENcv: As per NOT-OD-15-032  , NIH will require the use of the new biosktech format for applications submitted on or after May 25, 2015.  The revised forms and instructions are available on the SF 424 (R&R) Forms and Applications page .  In brief, the format extends the page limit from four to five pages and allows researchers to describe up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed their research.  A new FAQ site  is available to address questions on this format.  To assist  Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv)  provides a free profile service that helps to create and maintain biosketches.  SCiENcv is part of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NBCI), offered through the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  More information on this service is found on the NLM Technical Bulletin , and the NCBI YouTube channel .
  • ASSIST Update: ASSIST, NIH’s on-line system for the preparation and submission of grant applications through to NIH, is now an option for submitting R03, R21, R01, U01, and individual career development award grant applications.  See NOT-OD-15-062   and NOT-OD-15-098 , for more information.  See also Sally Rockey’s recent blog on this topic .
  • NIH eSubmission News: For the latest news see NIH eSubmission Items of Interest .  February and April additions cover: submitting subaward budgets that are not active for all periods of the prime grant; how to tell if your application falls within a specified direct cost limit; Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW)’s system on assurances linking to data in eRA Commons and undergoing an update; Indirect Costs in Multi-project applications; general information on application requirements and compliance  (see also NOT-OD-15-095 ).

NIH-Wide Grant News

  • Potential Award Delays in May 2015: NIH’s ability to issue competing and non-competing awards will be delayed for two weeks from May 19, 2015 until June 3, 2015 due to software upgrades to NIH accounting and business systems. Examples of activities that may be impacted include: issuance of awards; establishment or changes to Employer Identification Numbers; processing of No Cost Extensions; and processing of Fellowship activations. See NOT-OD-15-088  for additional information.
  • Recent Data on R21 and R01-equivalent Grants: See Sally Rockey’s blog  on the support of these awards over the last several years.
  • RFI on NIH Precision Medicine Cohort: The NIH Guide requested feedback to help the NIH in creating a longitudinal cohort of 1 million or more Americans who have volunteered to participate in research as part of the Precision Medicine Initiative; see NOT-OD-15-096 .

For more information on all of these updates, please see the NIH eRA News and Events page .

Questions? Contact the eRA help desk . Note that contacting this help desk is the only way to document problems with an electronic grant application submission. Evidence of this contact is the only way to be eligible for any special consideration by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) Division of Receipt and Referral, should you run into a system problem with or with eRA that is beyond your control.

Research Training and Career Development

Here is the latest news about Research Training and Career Development at the NIMH and the NIH:

  • Call for Applications: 2015 NIMH MD/PhD Student Conference: NIMH is currently accepting travel award applications from promising G1 and G2 MD/PhD students interested in clinical neuroscience. These awards will support attendance at the NIMH MD/PhD Student Conference (October 29, 2015) followed by the 3rd Annual Molecular Psychiatry Meeting  (October 30–November 1, 2015). The award will cover travel, lodging, and registration costs.The NIMH MD/PhD Student Conference will include scientific presentations and career development discussions among the awardees, invited faculty (including early-career physician-scientists), and NIMH staff. The application deadline is June 30, 2015. For application instructions and a list of previous travel awardees, see Please direct any questions to:
  • NIH Web Portal on Data Rigor: NIH has launched a web portal on Rigor and Reproducibility  which may be of interest to training program directors, mentors, and those in training. The portal includes links to four video training modules developed by the NIH Office of the Director and to archived meetings and workshops on data rigor. The training modules and accompanying discussion materials cover some of the factors that contribute to rigor and reproducibility, e.g., transparency, blinding and randomization, and sample size and exclusion criteria. The goal is to stimulate conversations among trainees as well as between trainees and their mentors. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early stage investigators are the primary audience for the training modules. Additional information is available on the NIMH data rigor page.

Please contact NIMH Program Staff with questions or comments.

We are interested in feedback from the community; comments or suggestions related to NIMH’s support for research training and career development may be directed to

Director’s Blog

The NIMH Director’s Blog provides insights into the latest topics in mental health research:

  • Mental Health Awareness Month: By the Numbers (May 15, 2015): Statistics paint a picture of the impact of mental illness in the United States; Dr. Insel reviews the numbers for Mental Health Awareness Month.
  • Crowdsourcing RDoC (May 1, 2015): NIMH’s RDoC initiative is in keeping with current interest in precision medicine. In his latest blogpost, Dr. Insel invites the research community to engage in discussion on the RDoC online forum.
  • What Caused This to Happen? – Part 2 (April 15, 2015): A London neuroscientist suggests two kinds of causes for disease; the implications of this view for understanding mental disorders are discussed.
  • Targeting Suicide (April 2, 2015): Suicide only occasionally makes the national news, but it is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Dr. Insel talks about the need for research targeted directly at suicide and recent efforts to raise awareness and marshal research.
  • A Plan for Changing Times (March 26, 2015): NIMH’s new Strategic Plan for Research is a broad roadmap for the Institute’s priorities for the next five years.
  • BRAIN Awareness (March 18, 2015): March 16-22 is Brain Awareness Week, an opportunity to celebrate neuroscience and discuss some exciting areas of research underway on the brain.
  • Transparency (March 13, 2015): Dr. Insel introduces a white paper posted on the NIMH website which provides answers to many of the most common questions NIMH receives about how it makes funding decisions.
  • Collaborative Care (March 3, 2015): Dr. Insel lauds University of Washington psychiatrist and researcher Wayne Katon, and the collaborative care approach for depression Dr.Katon helped develop.
  • Mortality and Mental Disorders (February 24, 2015): A recent paper reports findings on the reduction in life expectancy among people with mental illness relative to the general population.
  • Immune to Stress? (February 9, 2015): We tend to assume that the secrets to understanding individual differences in resilience to stress must be sought in the brain. Now, findings in mice suggest that the peripheral immune system might play a pivotal role.
  • Precision Medicine for Mental Disorders (February 2, 2015): Precision medicine is the new hot topic in research; what does it mean for mental health?
  • The Ignorance Project (January 28, 2015): At the recent World Economic Forum, brain research was a hot topic; Dr. Insel reports on statistics presented at the conference that inspire optimism that progress can be made on difficult problems, including mental disorders.
  • Funding Science (January 23, 2015): Relative to other countries, U.S. funding of science has declined in recent years; Dr. Insel talks about the need for research and development related to mental illness.

NIMH Science Updates

The latest news and updates from NIMH-supported research:

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