2019 Winter Inside NIMH
Welcome to the latest edition of Inside NIMH! We publish Inside NIMH in conjunction with each meeting of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), 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. I hope you find this edition interesting and helpful.
I also invite you to check out the NIMH website for regular updates on timely topics, and to follow me on Twitter (@NIMH Director).
Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institute of Mental Health
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I. NIMH Director’s Updates
As we venture into the new year, we focus this edition of Inside NIMH on recent efforts to advance NIMH research priorities, as well as key developments across the NIH. This fiscal year, we are operating under a regular appropriation from Congress, enabling us to chart a clear course to fund research across our portfolio.
NIMH Planning and Priorities
- Strategic Research Priorities and Strategic Planning: To keep pace with the ever-changing mental health research enterprise, NIMH updated its Strategic Research Priorities (SRPs) in January 2019. The SRPs align with Strategic Objectives in the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research. The SRPs were refreshed to include, among other things, an emphasis on developmental approaches across the Strategic Objectives. In related efforts, NIMH is beginning work to refresh its Strategic Plan for Research, slated for release in 2020.
- Updates on Aligning NIMH Mission and Structure: As announced in the Autumn 2018 edition of Inside NIMH, the Institute is working to optimize its structure to advance its mission. To this end, the new Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity (ODWD) was developed to coordinate NIMH efforts to reduce mental health disparities and to diversify the mental health research workforce. In addition, the newly-formed Center for Global Mental Health Research (CGMHR) was developed to coordinate the Institute’s efforts to generate knowledge that will improve the lives of people living with mental illnesses in low-resource settings worldwide.
- Clarifying Priorities in Genomics and Stress Biology
- Genomics Research: To support the use and uptake of recommendations from the Genomics Workgroup of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), NIMH released specific guidance for grant applicants, outlining factors NIMH considers when assessing human genetics research applications for the study of common genetic variation, rare genetic variation, and genetic syndromes. This guidance also includes answers to frequently asked questions and example case studies.
- Stress Biology Research: NIMH released a Notice of Information encouraging stress biology research and establishing guidelines and priorities for potential applicants. NIMH encourages efforts that address a set of critical topics: the resilience to susceptibility spectrum; consideration of complex systemic interactions; inclusion of both sexes and consideration of sex differences; methods to speed translation; and, development of translatable biomarkers. Rigorous and realistic animal models of stress will allow for comparisons with human studies and hold promise for identifying targets for intervention.
- Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Announcements: On September 27, 2018, the NIMH-led IACC hosted a workshop on Addressing the Health Needs of People on the Autism Spectrum to discuss health epidemiology, patient-provider interactions, and co-occurring health conditions that affect individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The IACC also held two full committee meetings; the October 17, 2018 meeting included discussions about unintentional injury and the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, and the January 16, 2019 meeting included presentations on housing, the Department of Defense Autism Care Demonstration project, and wandering and criminal justice issues for people with disabilities.
NIH Policies and Progress
- Notable NIH Policies
- NIH Anti-harassment Policy: NIH does not tolerate harassment of any kind, whether it is within the agency, at research organizations that receive NIH funding, or anywhere else NIH-funded activities are conducted. To foster civility throughout the NIH community, the NIH Civil Program manages NIH anti-harassment policies, practices, and initiatives that address harassment and inappropriate conduct. In October, 2018, NIH released a personal relationship policy statement, designed to promote positive work environments free from relationships that cause conflicts of interest. In addition, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., issued two statements specific to sexual harassment, Changing the Culture of Science to End Sexual Harassment and Additional Information on Sexual Harassment Policy at NIH. NIH provides specific guidance about its anti-sexual harassment policies for NIH staff and for NIH awardee organizations and those who work there.
- NIH Takes Measures to Protect the Integrity of NIH-funded Research: NIH is working with other agencies and recipient institutions to ensure the robustness of U.S. biomedical research. In October 2018, NIH published guidance to remind the research community about the responsibilities of NIH-supported institutions to address and report research misconduct allegations; when a recipient institution learns of research misconduct, the recipient institution must work with NIH to assess potential effects on the integrity of the research. This process is intended to promote the highest levels of integrity in the scientific enterprise.
- Advances in NIH-wide Initiatives
- Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD) Study: Enrollment for the ABCD Study is now complete. Researchers will follow nearly 12,000 youth ages 9-10, including 2,100 youth who are twins or triplets, through adolescence into young adulthood. In early 2019, baseline data will be made available from the NIMH Data Archive through a new tool, the Data Exploration and Analysis Portal (DEAP). DEAP will facilitate analysis data online, providing statistical models and tools appropriate for the ABCD Study design.
- All of Us Research Program: The All of Us Research Program funded three genome centers to sequence one million genomes, a critical component of the Program’s precision medicine research platform. Relatedly, the All of Us Research Program issued a funding opportunity for a Genetic Counseling Resource to support the responsible return of genomic results to participants, affirming the Program’s commitment to providing participants with access to information collected as part of their participation.
- Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative: The NIH BRAIN Initiative announced funding of more than 200 new awards. With this expansion of funding, more than 100 research institutions received awards to support the projects of more than 500 investigators representing fields as diverse as engineering and psychology. In addition, as the NIH BRAIN Initiative continues to integrate ethics into its science, the BRAIN Initiative Neuroethics Working Group published a set of eight guiding principles for ethical consideration in in neuroscience research, and NIH BRAIN Initiative Institute Directors authored a commentary on neuroethics for the NIH BRAIN Initiative. Published in tandem, these articles appear in the December 12, 2018 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Meanwhile, ongoing meetings of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0 and its Neuroethics Subgroup, as well as public feedback, will guide updates to BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision.
- Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM (HEAL) Initiative: The NIH HEAL Initiative issued over 35 new funding opportunities. Opportunities are wide-ranging and encourage research on: pain treatment and management, exposure and use of opioids among special populations, and treatments for opioid use disorder, including ways to improve adherence to medication-assisted treatment. As part of NIMH’s role in the HEAL Initiative, the Institute issued a funding opportunity to adapt the collaborative care service model to meet the needs of individuals with opioid use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses. To increase public awareness about the HEAL Initiative, NIH Directors participated in a press conference at the November 2018 Society for Neuroscience meeting where they discussed how the HEAL Initiative will identify and support approaches to address chronic pain and the opioid epidemic.
- NIH Leadership News
- In January 2019, Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D., assumed the post of Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). Dr. Tromberg is a pioneering leader in the field of biophotonics who previously held dual appointments as professor in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery at the University of California at Irvine (UCI). He also directed UCI’s Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic, an interdisciplinary research, teaching, and clinical center for optics and photonics in biology and medicine.
- We are sad to announce the passing of Dr. Stephen Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) from 1995-2018. During his tenure at NIAMS, the Institute made major contributions to research across a broad portfolio of disorders that affect millions of Americans. Dr. Katz is remembered as a remarkable mentor and trusted advocate of the entire NIH enterprise. While NIH conducts a national search, NIAMS Deputy Director Robert Carter, M.D., will serve as Acting Director.
- Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget: The FY 2018 budget information presented here excludes 21st Century Cures funding. NIMH awarded 589 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2018 and achieved an overall success rate of approximately 22 percent (defined as number of RPG applications funded divided by the number of applications received; see Figure 1). In accordance with NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI) efforts, NIMH awarded grants to 81 unique early stage investigators (ESIs) and 361 unique at-risk investigators.
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 2701 589 22
Figure 2 shows the number of competing R01 and equivalent applications that were awarded or not awarded across the full percentile scoring range in FY 2018. Data are presented using a method developed by the NIH Office of Extramural Research which shows success by percentile rank. The number of percentiled competing awards was 282 for $161M.
NIMH FY 2018 Applications and Awards for Research Project Grants Awarded Not Awarded 1 12 0 2 10 0 3 14 0 4 12 2 5 8 0 6 13 2 7 12 0 8 8 0 9 12 0 10 23 1 11 10 2 12 7 3 13 7 3 14 15 3 15 19 1 16 8 1 17 9 5 18 5 5 19 7 6 20 8 8 21 8 8 22 10 4 23 5 8 24 12 9 25 4 6 26 5 8 27 0 5 28 4 7 29 3 11 30 2 9 31 1 10 32 1 14 33 0 12 34 3 18 35 0 18 36 1 9 37 1 8 38 0 15 39 0 7 40 0 13 41 0 15 42 0 14 43 0 19 44 0 13 45 0 12 46 3 16 47 0 13 48 0 25 49 0 9 50 0 14 51 0 8 52 0 12 53 0 6 54 0 1 61 0 1
Figure 3 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.
NIMH Budget in Appropriated Dollars and Constant 2000 Dollars Appropriation Appropriation in 2000 Dollars 2000 973.146 973.146 2001 1106.536 1071.187 2002 1248.093 1169.722 2003 1341.014 1213.587 2004 1381.774 1205.736 2005 1411.933 1185.502 2006 1403.515 1126.417 2007 1404.494 1086.229 2008 1411.968 1042.812 2009 1450.491 1041.271 2010 1489.372 1037.167 2011 1476.2932 999.521 2012 1480.265001 989.482 2013 1403.005347 920.607 2014 1446.172 929.416 2015 1433.603 902.773 2016 1548.39 954.030 2017 1604.658 963.759 2018 1711.775 1000.839 2019 1812.796 1031.756
- Outlook for FY 2019: On September 28, 2018, President Trump signed the Appropriations Act of 2019 (Public Law No. 115-245) providing funds through September 30, 2019. The law provides $1.813 billion to NIMH, representing a 6 percent increase over the FY 2018 appropriation.
NIMH Staff News and Awards
- Staff News
- We are sad to announce that Lewis Judd, M.D., former Director of NIMH (1988 – 1992), passed away on December 16, 2018. During his tenure at NIMH, Dr. Judd helped usher in the 1990’s Decade of the Brain, laying the initial groundwork for NIMH-supported biological and genetic research on mental illnesses. Dr. Judd had a tremendous impact on the field of biological psychiatry and will be missed.
- Staff Awards
- Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Election to the Academy recognizes outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service and is one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.
- Ellen Leibenluft, M.D., Chief of the Section on Mood Dysregulation and Neuroscience in the NIMH Intramural Research Program (IRP), was elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Leibenluft also received the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Julius Axelrod Mentorship award. She received this award for her outstanding contribution to the field through mentorship of young scientists who developed into leaders in the field. Dr. Leibenluft is the first female recipient of this award.
- Barbara Lipska, Ph.D., Director of the Human Brain Collection Core in the NIMH IRP, received the ACNP 2018 Media Award in recognition of major contributions to the education of the public regarding mental illness research and the positive impact of research on treatment.
- Jane Pearson, Ph.D., Director for Suicide Prevention in the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research, received the American Psychological Association Meritorious Research Service Commendation for Leadership. Dr. Pearson was recognized for her accomplishments in advancing psychological science by identifying priorities for funding, designing funding initiatives, supporting project implementation, and facilitating interdisciplinary research in suicide prevention.