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2018 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 our website 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.


Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institute of Mental Health

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NIMH Director’s Updates

News from NIMH is abundant this spring season. The National Advisory Mental Health Council Genomics Workgroup reviewed the field to guide the path forward, NIMH took a fresh look at portfolio balance, NIH initiatives continued to grow, HHS strategic planning efforts came to fruition, and so much more.

National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) Workgroup Updates

  • Report of the NAMHC Workgroup on Genomics: The NAMHC Genomics workgroup, charged with advising the NAMHC on future directions in psychiatric genetics and functional genomics, published a comprehensive report based on workgroup meetings. Principal recommendations to address the complexity inherent in genomic psychiatry include: applying rigorous statistical methods; focusing on unbiased genetic association studies; examining all types of genetic variation; expanding efforts beyond the DSM; including genetic and phenotypic variation across diverse human populations; developing and sharing research resources; and, requiring robust, genome-wide significance in selecting genes and gene variations for further study. Guidance from the genomics workgroup report should be followed when submitting applications.
  • Report of the NAMHC Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Changes to the Matrix (CMAT) Workgroup: The NAMHC RDoC CMAT workgroup is charged with developing a standardized format for submitting suggested revisions to the RDoC matrix, evaluating proposed changes, and making final recommendations to the NAMHC. The workgroup proposed reorganization and other changes to the Positive Valence Domain to reduce redundancy and to align with recent findings related to reinforcement learning, reward prediction errors, and response to reward. On May 17, 2018 the workgroup presented a report on the proposed changes to the NAMHC.

Portfolios and Public Feedback

  • NIMH Portfolio Balance: Quality Science Comes First: NIMH performed a portfolio analysis to examine the balance in funding across fundamental basic research, disease-related basic research, and therapeutics development and services research. Overall, the findings suggest three takeaway messages: 1) regardless of how the portfolio is analyzed, the NIMH balance has shifted toward basic research; 2) changing scientific priorities likely played a role in this shift; and, 3) there are signs of a reversal showing an increase in funding for therapeutics development and services research. Moving forward, NIMH will continue to prioritize excellent science across all areas of the portfolio.
  • NIH Portfolio Analyses:
    • How Many Researchers, Revisited: A Look at Cumulative Investigator Funding Rates: NIH conducted a portfolio analysis of cumulative investigator funding rates , and found that NIH remains in a state of hyper-competition, but possibly less so than in the past few years. In addition, the number of unique applicants appears to be stabilizing after many years of uninterrupted growth, possibly reflecting a decline in the numbers of postdoctoral fellows in biomedical science. This analysis is a follow up to a previous portfolio analysis  which demonstrated that an increasing number of researchers were vying for limited dollars.
    • Impact of Teams Receiving NIH Funding: NIH also undertook a portfolio analysis on the impact of teams receiving NIH funding . Team size was measured by counting the number of co-authors on published papers. Results showed that the number of authors on publications resulting from NIH support have steadily increased over time. Further, they found a positive association between number of authors and citation influence, consistent with the growing importance of team science.
  • NIH Request for Public Feedback on Administrative Burden in Research with Laboratory Animals: NIH is requesting public feedback  on approaches to reduce administrative burden associated with the use of laboratory animals  in biomedical research. Together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, NIH is looking for constructive and thoughtful feedback on this topic from individuals, research institutions, professional societies, animal advocacy organizations, and other interested parties. Input will be accepted through June 12, 2018.

NIH Programs and Initiatives

  • Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study: To date, more than 7,500 children have been recruited for the ABCD Study . On February 13, 2018, NIH released the first dataset from 4,500 participants ages 9 to 10. Data include basic participant demographics, assessments of physical and mental health, substance use, culture and environment, neurocognition, structural and functional neuroimaging data, as well as biological data such as pubertal hormone analyses. The data are available through the NIMH Data Archive, which can be accessed by qualified researchers.
  • All of Us Research Program: On May 6, 2018, NIH officially launched  the All of Us  Research Program after completing its beta testing  phase. All of Us will include one million people aged 18 and older to participate  for at least a decade. Participants will answer survey questions and share their electronic health records. Some participants may be asked to provide biological samples and share data from wearable devices. All of Us aims to inform precision medicine  by helping researchers understand how an individual’s environment, lifestyle, and genetics influence their health.
  • Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative:
    • On April 9-11 2018, the NIH BRAIN Initiative  convened the 4th annual BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting . Attendees included BRAIN Initiative awardees, NIH staff and leadership, leadership from the contributing federal agencies, representatives and investigators from participating non-federal organizations, as well as members of the media, the public, and Congress. Participants discussed scientific developments and potential new directions, and identified areas for collaboration and research coordination.
    • On April 24, 2018 NIH announced the new Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0 . This ACD working group is charged with providing scientific guidance to the ACD on how to best accomplish the ambitious vision of the BRAIN Initiative considering the current state of neuroscience. The working group will review BRAIN Initiative activities and progress, suggest changes to goals outlined in BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision , and identify new opportunities for research and technology development.
  • Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative: In April 2018, NIH launched the HEAL Initiative , an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid crisis. The HEAL Initiative will bolster research across NIH to prevent addiction through enhanced pain management  and improve treatments for opioid misuse disorder and addiction . This Initiative will build on well-established NIH-funded research that led to medications to treat opioid use disorder and non-drug methods to manage pain.
  • Inflammatory Markers for Early Detection and Subtyping of Neurodegenerative and Mood Disorders: On April 26, 2018, the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH) , a public-private partnership to support the mission of NIH, launched a new project to examine brain inflammatory processes  in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). Under the auspices of the FNIH Biomarkers Consortium , this effort focuses on identifying and developing unique inflammatory biosignatures (combinations of biomarkers) in individuals with AD and MDD. Such biosignatures may inform novel, tailored, therapeutics for neurodegenerative and mood disorders.

HHS Director and Directions

  • New HHS Secretary’s First Official Visit to NIH: Alex Azar, J.D., was sworn in as 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on January 24, 2018. Secretary Azar spoke at an NIH town hall meeting on March 20, 2018 where he discussed the mission of HHS  and outlined key priorities such as addressing the opioid crisis . Secretary Azar answered NIH staff questions on several topics, including the role of NIH in disseminating scientific findings, attracting diverse scientific workforce  talent from around the world, and balancing domestic and global health research . He thanked NIH for its role in supporting the HHS mission to enhance the health and wellbeing of all individuals. Prior to the town hall meeting, Secretary Azar visited patients in the NIH Clinical Center  and met with Dr. Gordon and other NIH Institute Directors.
  • New HHS Strategic Plan: In February 2018, HHS released its Strategic Plan for FY 2018 - FY 2022 . The new Strategic Plan outlines five strategic goals: Strategic Goal 1  focuses on the nation’s healthcare system; Strategic Goal 2  is aimed at informed choices for healthier living, prevention of communicable diseases, reducing the impact of mental and substance use disorders, and preparation for public health emergencies; Strategic Goal 3  relates to economic and social factors facing Americans; Strategic Goal 4  is aimed at advancing the impact of science by improving epidemiology and laboratory services, expanding scientific workforce capacity and infrastructure, advancing both basic and applied science, and informing evidence-based healthcare practices; and, Strategic Goal 5  focuses on effective and efficient management and stewardship.

Federal Autism Coordination

  • New National Autism Coordinator: HHS Secretary Alex Azar designated NIMH’s Ann Wagner, Ph.D. as the National Autism Coordinator. Dr. Wagner will play a vital role in ensuring the implementation of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research, services, and support activities across federal agencies. This role will complement the activities of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee , which includes public and federal members, takes place in a public forum, and focuses on sharing information about ongoing activities and providing advice to the Secretary of HHS on issues related to ASD. Dr. Wagner is currently the Chief of the Biomarker and Intervention Development for Childhood-Onset Mental Disorders Branch in the NIMH Division of Translational Research where she oversees the NIMH Autism Research program. Dr. Wagner also serves as Chair of the NIH Autism Coordinating Committee.
  • Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Updates: The IACC  met on April 19, 2018 and primary discussion topics included employment for people with ASD, as well as research to address aggression and self-injury. The IACC announced the release of the 2017 Summary of Advances in Autism Spectrum Disorder Research , which provides short summaries of the top 20 research articles of the year as selected by the IACC. The IACC also announced plans for a summer 2018 workshop to address improving health outcomes for individuals living with ASD.

Budget Overview

  • Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget: On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (Public Law No. 115-141) providing funds through September 30, 2018. The amount provided $1.712 billion to NIMH, representing a 6.7 percent increase over the FY 2017 appropriation. NIMH anticipates awarding approximately 600 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2018, with an estimated success rate of 23 percent, as can be seen in Figure 1.

    As in past years, NIMH expects to support at least 75 percent 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 2018 awarded amount. Non-competing continuation awards from FY 2018 will be made at the committed level, and out-year commitments for continuation awards in FY 2019 and beyond will remain unchanged.

    Figure 1
    NIMH Applications, Awards, and Success Rates for Research Project Grants
    Fiscal Year Applications Awards Success Rate
    2013 2736 512 19
    2014 2830 548 19
    2015 2480 507 20
    2016 2568 587 23
    2017 2735 571 21
    2018 Est. 2558 600 23

    Figure 2 shows the NIMH budget in appropriated (current) versus constant (FY 2000) 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 2000.

    Figure 2
    NIMH Program Level in Appropriated Dollars and Constant 2000 Dollars
    Appropriation Appropriation in 2000 Dollars
    2000 973.146 973.146
    2001 1106.536 1080.602
    2002 1248.093 1198.937
    2003 1341.014 1265.108
    2004 1381.774 1271.181
    2005 1411.933 1259.530
    2006 1403.515 1213.064
    2007 1404.494 1181.240
    2008 1411.968 1164.030
    2009 1450.491 1186.205
    2010 1489.372 1203.047
    2011 1476.2932 1168.878
    2012 1480.265001 1150.167
    2013 1403.005347 1072.634
    2014 1446.172 1085.715
    2015 1433.603 1063.504
    2016 1548.39 1135.183
    2017 1604.658 1156.094
    2018 1711.775 1210.591
  • Outlook for FY 2019: In February 2018, the President submitted an outline for the FY 2019 budget request to Congress. The request for NIH is $34.8 billion, a decrease of $2.2 billion from the enacted FY 2018 appropriated level including 21st Century Cures funding. The request for NIMH is $1.6 billion, a decrease of $143 million from the FY 2018 appropriated level including 21st Century Cures funding. In April 2018, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing with the NIH Director and several NIH Institute and Center Directors. In May 2018, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies held a hearing to review the budget request for HHS. The House Appropriations Subcommittee members are drafting the FY 2019 Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill, which contains the NIH appropriation.

NIMH Staff News and Awards

  • NIMH Staff News:

    Megan Kinnane, Ph.D., was selected as Senior Advisor to the Director of NIMH. Dr. Kinnane held the position of Acting Senior Advisor since August 2016, and previously served as a Scientific Review Officer in the NIMH Division of Extramural Activities.

    Karen Berman, M.D., Chief of the Section on Integrative Neuroimaging in the NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs , was elected to a one-year term as President of the Society of Biological Psychiatry, and will serve a subsequent five-year term as Councilor.

    Richard Nakamura, M.D., retired  from his position as Director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review . During his 39 years of service to NIH, Dr. Nakamura held numerous leadership positions including NIMH Deputy Director and NIMH Scientific Director. While at NIMH, he earned several leadership awards, including the prestigious Presidential Rank Award.
  • NIMH Staff Awards:

    Andrew Leon Distinguished Career Award, International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology
    • William Potter, M.D., Ph.D., Office of the Director

    2018 Public Service Award, Society for Prevention Research
    • Jane Pearson, Ph.D., Division of Services and Intervention Research

Director’s Highlights: NIMH Scientists and Science

Grantee Awards and Updates

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

  • 2018 Elected Members of the National Academy of Sciences
    • György Buzsáki, M.D., Ph.D. (New York University Langone Medical Center)
    • Robert H. Edwards, M.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
    • David C. Van Essen, Ph.D. (Washington University School of Medicine)
    • Christopher A. Walsh, M.D., Ph.D. (Harvard Medical School)
  • 2018 Elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    • Guillermo R. Sapiro, Ph.D. (Duke University)
  • 2018 Gold Medal Award, Society of Biological Psychiatry
    • John Krystal, M.D. (Yale University)

Notable NIMH Grants

The following is a selection of the Institute’s most recently funded projects that exemplify our efforts to accelerate research on mental illnesses, and to advance the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research.

  • NIMH is funding two projects on RNA post-transcriptional regulation.
    • Nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) is a key RNA regulatory pathway linked to numerous neurocognitive disorders, yet it is a relatively unexplored mechanism for synaptic function. Dilek Colak, Ph.D.  (Weill Medical College of Cornell University) plans to examine the role of NMD on synaptic activity and its impact on cognitive function. This project could provide new insights into mechanisms underlying synaptic dysfunction and neurocognitive disorders.
    • Most neurons live throughout the lifespan of an organism, but internal mechanisms that contribute to neuronal survival are not well understood. Sika Zheng, Ph.D.  (University of California, Riverside School of Medicine) plans to apply new experimental strategies to determine the true breadth of alternative splicing NMD (AS-NMD) regulation in the brain, and the role of AS-NMD in neuronal survival. This project has the potential to uncover functional significance of AS-NMD in development and brain disease.
  • Major early life stressors increase risk for mental illnesses, including depression. Ian Gotlib, Ph.D.  (Stanford University) aims to identify how the timing and type of early life stressors contribute to such risk. Dr. Gotlib and colleagues will follow children as they age from 13 to 18 years old – a high-risk age range for developing depression – while collecting detailed clinical, neural, and hormonal measures. The design of the project will allow for a clearer understanding of when and where the brain changes in response to early life stress, and how such changes may increase risk for developing depression. This project has the potential to inform personalized interventions based on the nature of early stress exposure.
  • Currently, there are only three primary treatments for school-aged children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): psychosocial interventions, stimulant medications, and a combination of the two. These interventions have short-term impact on behavioral symptoms but do not address the underlying cognitive deficits associated with ADHD. Michael Kofler, Ph.D.  (Florida State University) plans to test a novel computerized training intervention to improve working memory in children with ADHD. This research aims to elucidate the role of working memory in ADHD symptomatology and academic functioning, and may lead to a novel intervention for children with ADHD.
  • Despite the success of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) to diminish peripheral infection, HIV-1 can establish infection in the central nervous system (CNS) and result in HIV-1 associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Once infected, the CNS acts as a viral reservoir that is difficult to treat. Raymond Schinazi, Ph.D., DSc.  (Emory University) and William Tyor, M.D.  (Emory University) will examine unique dynamics of HIV infection in the CNS and explore novel therapeutic strategies that target mononuclear phagocytes in a macaque model. These strategies will focus on eliminating the HIV reservoir and reducing inflammation, potentially leading to improved treatments to reduce risk for HAND.

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

Current Funding Opportunities and Announcements

NIH electronically posts the NIH Guide , a listing of all NIH funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) that includes 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.

You can subscribe to the NIMH Funding Opportunities ListServ  to receive the latest information about NIMH funding opportunities, 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 from the NIH Guide .

Please refer to a specific FOA for submission instructions including applications due dates, award and eligibility information, agency contacts, and additional information.

NIMH-Administered Requests for Applications

  • Clinical Trials to Test the Effectiveness of Treatment, Preventive, and Services Interventions (Clinical Trial Required)
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: June 15, 2018 and October 15, 2018
    • Collaborative R01 announcement (RFA-MH-18-700 )
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-18-701 )
  • Confirmatory Efficacy Clinical Trials of Non-Pharmacological Interventions for Mental Disorders (Clinical Trial Required)
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: June 15, 2018 and October 15, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-18-707 )
  • Development of Psychosocial Therapeutic and Preventive Interventions for Mental Disorders (Clinical Trial Required)
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: June 15, 2018 and October 15, 2018
    • R61/R33 announcement (RFA-MH-18-704 )
    • R33 announcement (RFA-MH-18-705 )
  • Early Stage Testing of Pharmacologic or Device-based Interventions for the Treatment of Mental Disorders (Clinical Trial Required)
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: June 15, 2018 and October 15, 2018
    • R61/R33 announcement (RFA-MH-18-702 )
    • R33 announcement (RFA-MH-18-703 )
  • Pilot Effectiveness Trials for Treatment, Preventive and Services Interventions (Clinical Trial Required)
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: June 15, 2018 and October 15, 2018
    • R34 announcement (RFA-MH-18-706 )
  • NIMH Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (NIMH BRAINS) (Clinical Trial Optional)
    • Release date: February 6, 2018; Application due dates: June 20, 2018 and June 20, 2019
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-19-130 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Tools to Facilitate High-Throughput Microconnectivity Analysis
    • Release date: August 30, 2017; Application due date: November 13, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-18-505 )
  • Reducing the Duration of Untreated Psychosis in the United States (Clinical Trial Required)
    • Release date: November 21, 2017; Standard due dates apply; Expiration date: March 20, 2019
    • R01 announcement (PAR-18-233 )
    • R34 announcement (PAR-18-232 )
  • From Genomic Association to Causation: A Convergent Neuroscience Approach for Integrating Levels of Analysis to Delineate Brain Function in Neuropsychiatry
    • Release date: April 11, 2017; Standard due dates apply; Expiration date: May 8, 2019
    • Collaborative R01 announcement (PAR-17-252 )
    • R01 announcement (PAR-17-253 )
  • BRAIN Initiative Fellows: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship
    • Release date: November 7, 2017; Application due date: December 7, 2018
    • F32 announcement (RFA-MH-18-510 )
  • Innovative Mental Health Services Research Not Involving Clinical Trials
    • Release date: April 28, 2017; Standard due dates apply; Expiration date: September 8, 2020
    • R01 announcement (PAR-17-264 )
  • First in Human and Early Stage Clinical Trials of Novel Investigational Drugs or Devices for Psychiatric Disorders (Clinical Trial Required)
    • Release date: December 6, 2017; Standard due dates apply; Expiration Date: January 8, 2021
    • U01 announcement (PAR-18-427 )

NIMH-Collaborative Requests for Applications

  • Workshop on the Use of Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Data (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: March 28, 2018; Application due date: July 25, 2018
    • R25 announcement (RFA-DA-19-006 )
  • Next-Generation Biologics for Sustained HIV Remission (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: April 11, 2018; Application due date: July 27, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-AI-18-017 )
  • Targeted In Vivo Delivery of Gene Therapeutics for HIV Cure (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: April 20, 2018; Application due date: July 31, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-AI-18-016 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Biology and Biophysics of Neural Stimulation (Clinical Trial Optional)
    • Release date: December 14, 2017; Application due date: June 6, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-NS-18-018 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Next-Generation Invasive Devices for Recording and Modulation in the Human Central Nervous System (Clinical Trial Required)
  • BRAIN Initiative: Clinical Studies to Advance Next-Generation Invasive Devices for Recording and Modulation in the Human Central Nervous System (Clinical Trial Required)
    • Release date: December 21, 2017; Application due date: June 21, 2018
    • UH3 announcement (RFA-NS-18-023 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Targeted BRAIN Circuits Planning Projects – TargetedBCPP (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: December 14, 2017; Application due date: July 17, 2018
    • R34 announcement (RFA-NS-18-014 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Theories, Models and Methods for Analysis of Complex Data from the Brain (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: October 12, 2017; Application due date: September 4, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-EB-17-005 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Tools to Target, Identify and Characterize Non-Neuronal Cells in the Brain (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: September 22, 2017; Application due date: October 4, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-DA-18-018 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: New Concepts and Early - Stage Research for Large - Scale Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: March 2, 2018; Application due date: October 29, 2018
    • R21 announcement (RFA-EY-18-001 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Optimization of Transformative Technologies for Large Scale Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System (Clinical Trials Not Allowed)
    • Release date: March 14, 2018; Application due date: October 29, 2018
    • U01 announcement (RFA-NS-18-019 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: New Technologies and Novel Approaches for Large-Scale Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System (Clinical Trials Not Allowed)
    • Release date: March 14, 2018; Application due date: October 29, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-NS-18-020 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Targeted BRAIN Circuits Projects- TargetedBCP (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: April 19, 2020; Application due date: November 6, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-NS-18-030 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Proof of Concept Development of Early Stage Next Generation Human Brain Imaging (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: October 5, 2017; Application due date: December 11, 2018
    • R01 announcement (RFA-EB-17-003 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Development of Next Generation Human Brain Imaging Tools and Technologies (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
    • Release date: October 4, 2017; Application due date: December 11, 2018
    • U01 announcement (RFA-EB-17-004 )

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

  • Professional Coalition for Research Progress Meeting: On March 20, 2018, NIMH convened a meeting of the Professional Coalition for Research Progress. The Coalition comprises representatives from professional organizations with an interest in NIMH research. Plenary sessions focused on ketamine research and its use in psychiatric practice, mental health disparities and strength-based approaches for vulnerable populations, and the state of suicide prevention in emergency care settings. Additionally, Dr. Gordon led a group discussion on best methods to engage Coalition members with the NIMH.
  • Virtual Workshop: Solving Computational Challenges in Genomics and Neuroscience via Parallel and Quantum Computing: On March 28, 2018, the NIMH Office of Genomics Research Coordination hosted a webinar to discuss core computational issues faced by geneticists and neuroscientists. Academic and industry experts in quantum and parallel computing, genetics, and neuroscience presented perspectives on existing computational challenges and discussed key avenues to address these challenges.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Lifespan Research Meeting: On April 20, 2018, the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research convened a meeting of grantees conducting research on services for transition-age youth and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Attendees presented updates on their ongoing and recently completed research, discussed research challenges and opportunities, and developed plans for future activities and collaborations. A working group was formed to improve the efficiency and coordination of research efforts, and to plan for the dissemination of research findings.
  • 2018 Global Mental Health Workshop: Diversity: A Tool for Solving Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health: On May 1 – May 2, 2018 the NIMH Office of Research on Health Disparities and Global Mental Health, together with Grand Challenges Canada, convened the annual Global Mental Health workshop, highlighting the importance of diversity in achieving excellent science; along the research pipeline, in the global mental health research workforce, and the individuals who participate in mental health research; and among the contexts in which research is conducted
  • The NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP) hosted three workshops:
    • Adolescent Suicide Prevention: Recognizing Teens at Risk and Responding Effectively: On January 24, 2018, the NIMH IRP hosted a video workshop on adolescent suicide prevention. Experts discussed adolescent suicide prevention, including techniques for early detection and management of young people at risk. Expert speakers included NIMH grantees and NIMH IRP scientists.
    • Depression and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: On April 12, 2018, the NIMH IRP hosted a webinar on depression and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). NIMH IRP scientist Dr. Bruce Luber, Ph.D., discussed depression as a brain disorder, and covered several topics including new approaches to understanding depression, brain stimulation therapies, pairing psychotherapy with TMS, and the latest research at NIMH on TMS and depression.
    • Teen Depression: What Parents Need to Know: On April 19, 2018, the NIMH IRP hosted a workshop on teen depression. NIMH IRP scientist-clinician Kathryn DeLonga, Psy.D., discussed the prevalence of major depressive disorder, identifying depression in teenagers, elements of recovery and strategies for treatment, and strategies parents can use to help their teenagers.

Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Activities

Electronic Grant Application Submission News

NIH-Wide Grant News

  • Changes to Handling Pre-award Human Subject Concerns: Effective February 20, 2018, NIH changed how it handles pre-award human subject concerns identified during peer review. Institutional Review Boards are now responsible for review and approval  of finalized human subjects’ research protocols. The NIH Office of Extramural Research will no longer be involved in the resolution of human subject concerns.
  • NIH Announces Inclusion Across the Lifespan Policy: NIH announced a revision  to its policy and guidelines on the inclusion of individuals across the lifespan as participants in research involving human subjects (NOT-OD-18-116 ). For application due dates on or after January 25, 2019, applicants proposing studies with human subjects will be required to provide a plan describing how participants across the lifespan will be included and must justify participants’ age range.

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

Questions? Contact the eRA Service 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 NIMH and NIH:

  • BRAIN Initiative Advanced Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity: To increase biomedical research workforce diversity in research areas supported by the BRAIN Initiative , this K99/R00 program facilitates the timely transition of outstanding postdoctoral researchers from mentored positions to independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions (NOT-NS-18-041 ). Eligible individuals are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who belong to one of the underrepresented populations including women, defined in the Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-18-129 ).
  • BRAIN Initiative Fellows: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship: This BRAIN Initiative  F32 program supports integrated research and training using cutting-edge tools, theories and/or approaches to prepare early postdoctorates to launch independent research careers to advance the goals of the BRAIN Initiative. Applicants must propose a research project and training plan relevant to one or more of the goals of the BRAIN Initiative, including neuroethics (RFA-MH-18-510 ). Please contact the NIMH Program staff listed in the FOA with questions. The next round of applications is due on December 7, 2018.
  • Updated NIH Policy on Concurrent Support from a Mentored K Award and a Research Grant: NIH updated its policy on concurrent support to expand the categories of concurrent support for which mentored K awardees may request reduction of K effort. The categories of support now include peer-reviewed, non-Federal research grants of at least $100,000 in direct costs. During the period of reduced effort, NIH will continue to provide full research development support costs (NOT-OD-18-157 ). K22 and K99 awardees, as well as K12/KL2 scholars, must provide strong justification.
  • Expanded Opportunity for M.D./Ph.D. Researchers to Gain Research Experience during Clinical Training: NIMH expanded eligibility for an administrative supplement that provides focused, protected research time for M.D./Ph.D.s during residency or fellowship (PA-17-328) . Eligible candidates may now be within two years of successful completion of an NIMH Research Education Program for Psychiatry Residents (R25) award, not in a clinical fellowship program, and do not have viable options to support their focused, protected research time (NOT-MH-18-029 ). Please contact the NIMH Office of Research Training and Career Development with any questions. Applications are accepted and reviewed on a continuous basis.
  • Workshops on the Use of Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Data: NIMH joined the National Institute on Drug Abuse  to issue an R25 funding opportunity announcement supporting short-term workshops that provide hands-on use of ABCD Study data, through cooperative or competitive approaches (RFA-DA-19-006 ). Please contact the NIMH Program staff listed in the FOA with questions. Applications are due on July 25, 2018.

Between issues of Inside NIMH, please refer to the NIMH webpage for research training and career development for the latest news and resources for potential applicants and current awardees.

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 You may also contact NIMH Program Staff with questions or comments.

Director’s Messages

NIMH’s Director’s Messages provide insights into the latest topics in mental health research:

  • Autism Awareness Month (April 19, 2018): For Autism Awareness Month, Dr. Gordon offers a snapshot of federal efforts and research findings related to autism spectrum disorder.
  • Towards a Genomic Psychiatry: Recommendations of the Genomics Workgroup of the NAMHC (March 29, 2018): A Genomics Workgroup of the National Advisory Mental Health Council has issued a report with recommendations for NIMH’s ongoing support of genomics research. Dr. Gordon offers highlights of the report with his reflections.
  • NIMH’s Portfolio Balance: Quality Science Comes First (February 26, 2018): Tracking the NIMH research portfolio reveals shifts in balance or research investments over the last ten years. Dr. Gordon offers insights into the trends and his view on funding priorities.
  • Excellent Science (January 25, 2018): NIMH leadership has defined a set of principles to help compare the quality of research proposals across the full breadth of the Institute’s portfolio. Dr. Gordon explains how these principles can help ensure that NIMH prioritizes excellent science while assuring portfolio balance across timeframes.

NIMH Science News

The latest news and updates from NIMH-supported research:

Publicizing NIMH research is a communal responsibility. Please help us spread the word about the results of NIMH funding by acknowledging our support of your research, for example, in journal articles (citing your NIMH award by number when possible) and other communications. NIMH has two primary methods of getting the word out: press releases and science updates. All releases and updates are posted to the Science News section of the NIMH Web site. These are also distributed to the public through a mailing list .

If you have a manuscript accepted for publication that describes an especially significant finding, please contact your NIMH Program Official to discuss the possibility of a news release or other forms of dissemination.

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Inside NIMH is produced by the National Institute of Mental Health. For more information about the Institute, visit our website at For comments and suggestions about Inside NIMH, please contact the NIMH Webmaster. The material in this newsletter is not copyrighted, and we encourage its use or reprinting.