2020 Autumn 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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NIMH Director’s Updates
NIMH continues to monitor and respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, providing guidance to researchers, as well as resources for providers and individuals managing stress and mental illnesses. This edition of Inside NIMH includes updates on NIMH’s response to COVID-19, highlights some of NIMH’s activities during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July) and Suicide Prevention Month (September), and notes some key developments across NIH.
News to Know from NIMH
- NIMH Director’s Statement on Racism: In June, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., denounced the acts of violence perpetrated against African Americans, as well as the ongoing bias and prejudice that fuels these acts. Dr. Gordon echoed Dr. Collins’ sentiments in a statement and joined him in recognizing that NIH has a role to play by ensuring we foster a culture of inclusion, equity, and respect for one another, and by ensuring the research we support is part of the solution rather than part of the problem. In a recent Director’s Message, Dr. Gordon noted how systemic racism leads to not only interpersonal injustices, but also inequalities in access to care, quality of care, and health outcomes. NIMH remains committed to promoting diversity in research (both in those who participate in clinical research and those conducting the research); examining ways to increase access to care to people who need it; sharing resources to raise awareness about minority mental health; and, studying and understanding the impact of bias and prejudice on health outcomes. On August 7, 2020, NIMH released a Notice (NOT-MH-20-073) requesting information on innovative research and research priorities to improve mental health outcomes among racial/ethnic minority and health disparities populations.
- NIMH’s Response to COVID-19: NIMH continues to monitor and respond to COVID-19. In a recent co-authored Director’s Message, Dr. Gordon collaborated with the leaders of several Institutes at NIH to highlight NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) programs. One of these programs is RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP), which aims to establish a network of community-engaged projects to improve access to and acceptance of COVID-19 testing for underserved and vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. More information, including guidance for researchers, can be found on the NIH COVID-19 webpage.
- Animal Research Plays a Crucial Role in Modern Neuroscience: Basic research is critical to understanding the genetic, structural, and functional underpinning of mental illnesses. Exploring the function of molecules, cells, circuits, and systems and how they relate to behavior often requires the examination of an intact brain that, for ethical and practical reasons, may be best accomplished with animals. Although NIH supports the development of alternatives to animal models, such as tissue chips, brain organoids, and in silico modelling approaches, these approaches cannot entirely replace animal studies. Research using animals has led to powerful new treatments like Brexanolone, the first FDA-approved treatment specifically for postpartum depression. This treatment may not have emerged without foundational studies of brain neurosteroid signaling in animals. NIMH remains committed to ensuring that animal research is conducted appropriately and in accordance with the highest scientific and ethical principles. Further, NIMH will continue to support researchers who dedicate their lives to understanding the contributors to mental illnesses.
- Outreach Spotlight: NIMH created and shared several education and outreach resources to support community efforts and raise awareness about mental health observances throughout the summer and into the fall. During Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July, NIMH shared a variety of messages on social media promoting its Tips for Talking with Your Health Care Provider and other mental health information, and posted new Spanish-language shareables to help promote mental health awareness in the Spanish-speaking community. To support back-to-school educational efforts, NIMH created a new fact sheet for teens and young adults about anxiety and stress and shared two educational resources for parents, the Get Excited about the Brain coloring and activity book and the Stress Catcher activity. In recognition of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, NIMH planned a social media livestream event to discuss the latest in suicide prevention research and distributed suicide prevention shareable resources. NIMH also continued expanding its Education and Awareness portal with new digital shareables about bipolar disorder.
- Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Updates: The selection process for IACC membership is ongoing. New IACC members and future meeting dates will be publicly announced once the new members have been appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. In June, the IACC released the 2019 Summary of Advances In Autism Spectrum Disorder Research , which provides summaries of 20 studies that represent the top scientific advances in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research in 2019, as selected by the IACC. In August, the IACC released the IACC Strategic Plan 2018-2019 Update , which provides summaries of committee and federal activities in 2018 and 2019 that have contributed to progress toward Strategic Plan goals.
- Autism Biomarker Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT) Receives Continued Support: The identification of new biomarkers is an increasingly essential element of predictive and personalized medicine. The ABC-CT has been awarded approximately $40 million over the next five years to continue testing and refining brain-based measures of social communication impairment in ASD in order to better evaluate potential behavioral and drug therapies. James McPartland, Ph.D., (Yale University) serves as principal investigator. McPartland and his team are conducting a multi-site study of preschool (3-5 years) and school aged (6-11 years) children, both with and without ASD, to test the utility of specified biomarkers for future use as stratification measures in clinical trials. Research sites include Yale University, New Haven; Duke University, Durham; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Washington, Seattle; and, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston. This large consortium effort, supported by a cooperative agreement mechanism, is co-funded by NIMH, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
Updates and Announcements from NIH
- NIH-Wide Initiatives
- Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative: On June 1-2, 2020, NIH hosted the 6th Annual BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting. The virtual conference provided an interactive forum for scientific discussions, plenary addresses, and networking opportunities. Meeting content is still freely accessible for those who were unable to attend. With more than 4,700 registrants, the event convened BRAIN Initiative awardees, NIH staff, and leadership from contributing federal agencies; representatives and investigators from non-federal organizations; as well as members of the media, public, and Congress.
- All of Us Research Program: On June 16, 2020, the All of Us Research Program announced plans to leverage its significant and diverse participant base to seek new insights into COVID-19 through antibody testing, a survey on the impacts of the pandemic, and collection of electronic health record information. All of Us will make data gathered through these activities broadly accessible to approved researchers over time using its data platform, which is now in beta testing. Analyses may help reveal the origins of entry, spread, and impact of COVID-19 in the United States.
- Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study: The ABCD Study is using existing resources and tools to send monthly questionnaires to a subset of study participants to collect data on experiences related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including viral exposure and outcomes, family situation, schooling, routines, relationships with friends and family, and mental health and substance use among youth and parents. Additionally, the ABCD Study will be releasing new data soon, which will be available upon request to researchers via the NIMH Data Archive. Sharing these data with researchers around the world increases rigor and reproducibility and engages scientists that do not work at the ABCD Study sites, thereby increasing the number of questions we can answer. To date, more than 60 papers have been published using ABCD data from both ABCD and non-ABCD investigators.
- NIH Leadership News
- On June 7, 2020, Richard “Rick” P. Woychik, Ph.D., began his post as Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Before beginning his role as NIEHS Director, Dr. Woychik served as the Acting Director of NIEHS for eight months and Deputy Director of NIEHS for nine years. As NIEHS Director, Dr. Woychik will work closely with the All of Us Research Program to advance NIEHS research on environmental exposures. He will also be responsible for overseeing the National Toxicology Program, a federal inter-agency program that reports directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- On July 1, 2020, NIH announced the selection of Shannon N. Zenk, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., F.A.A.N., as Director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). As NINR Director, Dr. Zenk will oversee research aiming to develop personalized strategies to maximize health and well-being at all stages of life and across diverse populations and settings. Dr. Zenk, who will come to NIH in early fall from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), currently serves as a Nursing Collegiate Professor in the Department of Population Health Nursing Science and a fellow at the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy.
- On July 24, 2020, NIH announced the selection of Michael F. Chiang, M.D., as Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI). Dr. Chiang will oversee NEI-conducted and -supported research on blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the visually impaired. Dr. Chiang, who will come to NIH in late 2020 from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), currently serves as the Knowles Professor of Ophthalmology and Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology. He is also an Associate Director of the OHSU Casey Eye Institute.
- On August 6, 2020, NIH announced the selection of Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc., as Director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). As NIAMS Director, Dr. Criswell will oversee research that informs the fields of rheumatology, muscle biology, orthopedics, bone and mineral metabolism, and dermatology. Dr. Criswell, who will join NIH in early 2021, will come to NIH from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she serves as the Vice Chancellor of Research, a professor of rheumatology in UCSF’s Department of Medicine, and a professor of orofacial sciences in the UCSF School of Dentistry.
- On August 13, 2020, NIH announced the selection of Rena N. D’Souza, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., as Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). As NIDCR Director, Dr. D’Souza will oversee research in areas of oral cancer, orofacial pain, tooth decay, periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, craniofacial development and disorders and the oral complications of systemic diseases. Dr. D’Souza, who will come to NIH later this year, currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Education for Health Science at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. She also serves as a professor of dentistry, the Ole and Marty Jensen Chair of the School of Dentistry, and professor of neurobiology, anatomy, pathology, and surgery in the School of Medicine and the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
- On September 1, 2020, NIH announced that Hannah A. Valantine, M.D., Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, will retire at the end of September. Dr. Valantine was appointed in 2014 and has led NIH’s efforts to diversify the biomedical research workforce and promote inclusiveness and equity throughout the biomedical research enterprise. Marie A Bernard, M.D., will serve as the Acting Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity while NIH conducts a national search.
- Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget: The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 (Public Law No. 116-94) provides funds through September 30, 2020. The law provides $2.038 billion to NIMH (amount includes 21st Century Cures funding), representing a nine percent increase over the FY 2019 appropriation. NIMH anticipates awarding approximately 650 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2020, with an estimated success rate of 24 percent, as shown in the figure below. In accordance with NIH Next Generation Research Initiative (NGRI) efforts, NIMH anticipates awarding grants to 91 unique early stage investigators (ESIs) and 299 unique at-risk investigators.
- Outlook for FY 2021: FY 2021 will most likely begin under a continuing resolution (CR). As in the past, while operating under a CR, non-competing grants will be awarded at levels below the committed amounts, likely at 90 percent. In February 2020, the President submitted the FY 2021 budget request to Congress. The request for NIH is $38 billion, a decrease of $4 billion from the FY 2020 appropriated level including 21st Century Cures funding. The request for NIMH is $1.8 billion, a decrease of $200 million from the FY 2020 appropriated level including 21st Century Cures funding. In July 2020, the House passed H.R. 7617, a six-bill minibus spending package which included the FY 2021 appropriations bills for Labor-HHS-Education, Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. The spending package would provide NIH $42 billion in annual appropriations and $5 billion in emergency appropriations, an increase of $5.5 billion from the FY 2020 enacted level. The bill would provide NIMH $2.1 billion in annual appropriations, an increase of $17 million from the FY 2020 enacted level. In addition, the bill stipulates that no less than $2.5 billion of the emergency appropriation would be transferred to NIH Institutes and Centers in proportion to their share of the total FY 2020 NIH appropriation. The Senate is expected to begin work on the annual appropriations bills in September.
NIMH Staff Updates and Opportunities
- Staff News
- Kathy Anderson, Ph.D., has transitioned from NIMH to NEI, where she will serve as the Director of the Division of Extramural Activities. Dr. Anderson has been with NIH for nearly two decades and has worked in many capacities, including Deputy Director in the NIMH Division of Translational Research (DTR) and Acting Director (detail) of the NINR Division of Extramural Science Programs. Mi Hillefors, M.D., Ph.D., will continue to serve as Acting Deputy Director of DTR while we conduct a search for the next Deputy Director.
- Jean Noronha, Ph.D., Director, NIMH Division of Extramural Activities, will be retiring on October 2, 2020. Dr. Noronha has been with NIH for 37 years; 31 of them with NIMH. Over the years, Dr. Noronha has contributed to NIMH in many ways, first as the Institute’s Acting Review Branch Chief, then as the Chief Extramural Policy and Referral Liaison, then as the Deputy Director of DEA, and most recently, Director of DEA. As the Director of DEA, Dr. Noronha oversaw the management of the National Advisory Mental Health Council, NIMH-led peer review, the grants management branch, and extramural grants policy. We thank her for her years of service and wish her all the best in her retirement.
- NIMH notes the passing of Fred Goodwin, M.D., former Director of NIMH (1992-1994), on September 10, 2020. Dr. Goodwin’s research helped advance the field of psychiatry, particularly his work with bipolar disorder and lithium. After retiring from government, Dr. Goodwin led the Center on Neuroscience, Medical Progress, and Society at George Washington University Medical Center.
- Staff Awards
- Two members of NIMH leadership, Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., NIMH Director, and Linda Brady, Ph.D., Director, NIMH Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, were awarded the Rona and Ken Purdy Award for Distinguished Service by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This award recognizes the sustained contributions of an individual or organization to raise public awareness, reduce stigma, and advance NAMI’s mission to build better lives for people with mental illness and their families.
- Leslie G. Ungerleider, Ph.D., NIH Distinguished Investigator, Chief of the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, and Chief of the Section on Neurocircuitry in the NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP), was awarded the Glass Brain Award by the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM). Dr. Ugerleider was recognized for her lifetime achievements in neuroimaging during OHBM’s virtual meeting on June 23-July 3, 2020.
- Peter Bandettini, Ph.D., Senior Investigator and Chief of the Section on Functional Imaging Methods and Director of the fMRI Core Facility in the NIMH IRP, was awarded the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) Gold Medal Award. The Gold Medal Award, the highest honor bestowed by ISMRM, was awarded to Dr. Bandettini during the ISMRM meeting on August 10, 2020, in recognition of his significant achievement in human neuroimaging methods development.
- Job Vacancies
- NIMH is conducting a national search for three positions: Director of the Office of Clinical Research, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities, and Branch Chief for the Genomic Research Branch. For more information about job vacancies, visit the Careers at NIMH webpage.
Director’s Highlights: NIMH Scientists and Science
NIMH Grantee Awards
NIMH is proud to recognize significant achievements and awards received by our current grantees:
- 2020 Elizabeth L. Scott Award, Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies
- Amita Manatunga, Ph.D. (Emory University)
- 2020 Foundation of NIH Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences
- Aviv Regev, Ph.D. (Broad Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute)
- 2020 Rising Star Award, Schizophrenia International Research Society
- Gregory P. Strauss, Ph.D. (University of Georgia)
- Gerald R. Klerman Prize for Exceptional Clinical Research, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
- Ellen Lee, M.D. (University of California, San Diego)
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.
- Neuropsychiatric disorders are thought to arise from complex changes in brain plasticity, whether due to molecular, cellular, or functional determinants. Changes in the activity of a specific type of neuron within the brain’s reward circuit depend on a specific molecular pathway known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin receptor kinase B (BDNF/TrkB). Decreased BDNF/TrkB signaling in these neurons have been linked with resilience to neuropsychiatric disorders, whereas prolonged increased signaling is associated with increased susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders. With support from the NIMH Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, Fernanda Laezza, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Texas Medical Branch), aims to use a combination of biophysics, molecular biology, biochemistry, imaging, and single cell electrophysiology in rodents to identify how changes in this signaling pathway may provide insight into vulnerability to neuropsychiatric disorders in humans. Finding from these studies have the potential to lead to the development of biomarkers of susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders by investigating molecular pathways in relevant experimental models, an area of great interest for biological psychiatry.
- NIMH is interested in supporting research that leverages large-scale, real-world data from electronic health records (EHRs) to understand risk, onset, course, and impact of treatments and services for mental illnesses. With support from the NIMH Division of Translational Research, Jaimie L. Gradus, D.M.Sc, D.Sc., M.P.H. (Boston University Medical Campus), aims to use U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) EHR data to identify existing pharmaceutical agents that may be used for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More specifically, Dr. Gradus plans to use these data to identify off-label pharmaceutical agents associated with improvements in PTSD; evaluate clinical effectiveness of identified off-label agents for treating PTSD symptoms identify patient predictors of improvement using machine-learning; and, identify any side effects related to off-label pharmaceutical agents associated with improvements in PTSD symptoms. Results from this study may help to identify promising candidate drugs for treating PTSD and inform current clinical practice.
- The NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR) recently funded a study directly relevant to the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus report, Ring the Alarm: The Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America. In an effort to address the significant increase in suicidality among Black children and youth over the last several years, Antonio Morgan Lopez, Ph.D. (Research Triangle Institute), and John Lochman, Ph.D. (University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa), plan to evaluate data from 10 randomized controlled trials of the Coping Power Program (CPP). The CPP is an empirically supported child- and family-focused preventive intervention that focuses on reducing aggressive behavior among youth. Youth who exhibit aggression are at increased risk for suicidality and the researchers hope to use the data from the CPP to determine whether this intervention also reduces risk for suicide ideation and behaviors. The majority (63-78 percent) of the individuals who participated in the CPP are Black. Results from this study may provide important information regarding the cross-over effects, unanticipated benefits, and long-term effects of prevention interventions on suicidality among Black youth.
- There is a myriad of new HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug formulations and delivery modalities under clinical development, and it is expected that a range of biomedical HIV prevention options will soon be available. There is also an important need to integrate lessons learned across disparate localities to further strengthen and advance HIV prevention throughout the United States. With support from the NIMH Division of AIDS Research, Sarit Golub, Ph.D. (Hunter College) and Kathrine Meyers, DrPh (Columbia University) plan to examine HIV PrEP delivery across diverse settings within seven geographical hotspots prioritized under the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative. The investigators hope to combine site-based interviews, ethnographic research, and PrEP delivery metrics to identify effective models and best practices for PrEP delivery. The researchers also aim to define delivery setting needs for any future integration of novel PrEP regimens (e.g., long-acting injectable PrEP). This project has the potential to make strong and novel contributions to advancing PrEP use and delivery across the country by extending knowledge and tools from these seven sites to benefit other programs and localities.
Featured Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) and Initiatives
NIH electronically posts the NIH Guide, a listing of all NIH FOAs that includes program announcements, requests for applications, and important notices for the scientific community. Below is a description of some types of FOAs and a selection of “Featured FOAs” in which NIMH participates. The Funding page on the NIMH website also has links to listings of all NIMH FOAs and other resources.
Program Announcement (PA, PAR, or PAS)
A PA is a formal statement about a new or ongoing extramural activity or program. NIH may also make funds available through PARs (PAs with special receipt, referral, and/or review considerations) and PASs (PAs with set-aside funds). This type of FOA may serve as a reminder of continuing interest in a research area, describe modification in an activity or program, and/or invite applications for grant support. Applications in response to PAs are submitted to a standing submission date and are reviewed with all other applications received at that time using standard peer review criteria; more information about the review process can be found on NIH’s Understanding Funding Opportunities webpage. PAs are also used to annually solicit applications for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
Featured PAs, PARs, or PASs:
- Practice-Based Suicide Prevention Research Centers (PAR-20-286)
- Digital Healthcare Interventions to Address the Secondary Health Effects Related to Social, Behavioral, and Economic Impact of COVID-19 (PAR-20-243)
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI)
NOSIs have replaced IC-issued PAs to highlight interest in a research area that does not have set-aside funds or special review criteria or review considerations. NOSIs direct applicants to one or more active FOAs (often parent announcements) for submission of applications for the initiative described.
- Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Research on Risk and Prevention of Black Youth Suicide (NOT-MH-20-055)
- Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Digital Healthcare Interventions to Address the Secondary Health Effects Related to Social, Behavioral, and Economic Impact of COVID-19 (NOT-MH-20-053)
- Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Chimerism in Marmoset and other New World Primates (NOT-MH-20-048)
Request for Applications (RFA)
RFAs are a formal statement that solicits grant or cooperative agreement applications in a well-defined scientific area to accomplish specific program objectives. RFAs often list a single receipt date in the announcement. Applications submitted in response to an RFA are usually reviewed by a Scientific Review Group specially convened by the awarding component that issued the RFA.
- Laboratory, Data Analysis, and Coordinating Center (LDACC) for the Developmental Genotype-Tissue Expression Project (RFA-HG-20-039)
- Pediatric Biospecimen Procurement Center (BPC) Supporting the Development Gene Expression (dGTEx) Project (RFA-HD-21-008)
- Martin Delaney Collaboratories for HIV Cure Research (RFA-AI-20-035; RFA-AI-20-036)
Policy Announcement (NOT)
NIH periodically issues a NOT or Guide Notice to update or clarify policies described in an active FOA. NIH may also use NOTs to solicit information from the extramural or intramural community, such as a request for information (RFI). NIH may also release Notices of Intent to Publish (NOITPs) to alert the grantee community of an upcoming FOA (particularly FOAs that may require coordination by multiple investigators) or if there will be a shorter than normal time from publication of the FOA to the first application receipt date such as with a reissue of an existing FOA.
- Notice of Correction to “PAR-20-235, Behavioral Tasks Targeting Brain Systems Relevant to Anhedonia" (NOT-MH-20-072)
- Request for Information (RFI): Fostering Innovative Research to Improve Mental Health Outcomes Among Minority and Health Disparities Populations (NOT-MH-20-073)
- Notice of Participation in "PA-18-358, NINDS Exploratory Neuroscience Research Grant" (NOT-MH-20-034)
- Notice to Extend, “PAR-17-264, Innovative Mental Health Services Research Not Involving Trials" (NOT-MH-20-063)
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 see the Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Activities section for updates relating to COVID-19.
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.
- BRAIN Initiative: Data Archives for BRAIN Initiative
- BRAIN Initiative: Next Generation Technologies for Brain Microconnectivity Analysis
- BRAIN Initiative: Organizing Resources for Brain Cell Type-Specific Access and Manipulation Across Species
- Cellular and Molecular Biology of Complex Brain Disorders
- Centers for Practice-Based Effectiveness and Services Research with Near-Term Impact
- Community Interventions to Address the Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Health Disparity and Vulnerable Populations
- Digital Healthcare Interventions to Address the Secondary Health Effects of COVID-19 for Health Disparity and Vulnerable Populations
- Discovery of Probes for Novel Brain Targets
- From Genomic Association to Causation: A Convergent Neuroscience Approach 2.0
- Limited Competition to Convert the CNS HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Effects Research (CHARTER) Study Cohort to a Research Resource Grant
- Mental Health Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
- Mood and Psychosis Symptoms During the Menopause Transition
- Service-Ready Tools for Identification, Prevention, and Treatment of Suicide Risk
For more information, please see recent NAMHC-approved concepts and past NAMHC meetings, which also contains links to meeting agendas, minutes, and Inside NIMH (Director’s Reports).
- HIV-Related Intersectional Stigma: Research Advances and Opportunities Workshop: On July 13, 2020, the NIH Office of AIDS Research and the NIMH Division of AIDS Research kicked off a series of virtual workshops titled HIV-Related Intersectional Stigma: Research Advances and Opportunities. The goals of this series are to advance HIV prevention and treatment science, and to inform the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative and efforts worldwide. The first workshop in the series featured state-of-the-science presentations by invited participants. Future workshops will provide opportunities for attendees to discuss key questions and develop brief reports that can be shared with community stakeholders.
- Sexuality and Stigma: Culture, Identity, and Mental Health Among High-Risk Men Who Have Sex with Men: On July 28, 2020, the NIMH Office of Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity (ODWD) hosted a webinar on the intersectionality of sexuality, stigma, and health domains among gay and bisexual men and promising prevention research and intervention programs. This webinar is part of an ODWD series that aims to provide a forum for program officials, trainees, researchers, policymakers, and clinicians interested in or conducting research on mental health disparities, particularly among women and minorities and in rural settings.
- NIMH Instagram Event: Anxiety and Stress in Children and Adolescents: On August 11, 2020, NIMH hosted a live question and answer session on its Instagram Story. Krystal Lewis, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist at NIMH, answered questions about anxiety and stress as children and adolescents prepare to return to school. The chat has been archived in NIMH’s Instagram Story highlights. Visit @NIMHgov to learn more.
Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Activities
Electronic Grant Application Submission News
- COVID-19 Resources for Applications and Recipients of NIH Funding: NIH continues to update the COVID-19: Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding webpage. New resources include materials outlining considerations for new and ongoing human subjects research during the COVID-19 pandemic, new and revised FAQs on application submission, salary or stipend costs, prior approvals, and a new section of funded grants.
- Two-Factor Authentication Login Option for eRA Commons, Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) Now Available: Two-factor authentication via login.gov is now available to NIH applicants and grantees. This new login method is for users of eRA Commons, Commons Mobile, Internet Assisted Review, and ASSIST and will help ensure the security of their personal information. Although two-factor authentication is currently optional, it may be become a requirement in the future.
NIH-Wide Grant News
- Grant and Contract Submission Requirements Regarding the Updated American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: Effective October 1, 2020, grant and contract applications must be consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition (NOT-OD-20-143). Applicants should continue to follow application form instructions.
- NIH RePORTER Now Returns COVID-19 Award Information: NIH RePORTER has new search filters to identify projects that are part of NIH’s response to COVID-19, including grant projects and supplements funded under one of the special appropriations related to COVID-19 or under regular Institute and Center appropriations. More information can be found in this presentation, contact RePORT@mail.nih.gov for technical support.
For more information on all of these updates, please see the NIH eRA News and Events page.
Submission 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 Grants.gov 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:
- NIMH Joins Research Education Program on Advancing the Careers of a Diverse Research Workforce: NIMH is now participating in the NIH Neuroscience Development for Advancing the Careers of a Diverse Research Workforce (PAR-20-240). NIH Research Education Programs are designed to support educational activities that encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral science, to pursue further studies or careers in research. This FOA aims to support creative educational activities focused on research experiences, mentoring activities, and curriculum or methods development.
- Reissuing BRAIN Initiative Fellows Program: NIH Institutes and Centers participating in the BRAIN Initiative, including NIMH, intend to reissue BRAIN Initiative Fellows: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32; NOT-MH-20-062). The purpose of the BRAIN Initiative Fellows F32 program is to enhance the research training of promising researchers, early in their postdoctoral training period, who have the potential to become productive investigators in research areas that will advance the goals of the BRAIN Initiative. Applications are encouraged in any research area that is aligned with one or more of the seven high-priority areas of the BRAIN Initiative, including neuroethics.
- Mid-Career Enhancement Awards: Several NIH Institutes and Centers, including NIMH, are participating in Mid-Career Enhancement Awards to Integrate Basic Behavioral, Biomedical, and/or Social Scientific Process (PAR-20-211; PAR-20-226). The purpose of these FOAs is to support investigators who strive to expand their research trajectories through the acquisition of new knowledge and skills in the areas of basic psychological processes, sociological processes, and/or biomedical pathways. The program will support career development experiences and a small-scale research project that will provide investigators with the scientific competencies required to conduct independent research projects.
- Training in Advanced Data Analytics for Behavioral and Social Science Research (TADA-BSSR) Program: NIMH and other NIH Institutes and Centers are partnering with the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences (OBSSR) to support the TADA-BSSR program (RFA-OD-19-011). This new five-year training program incorporates computational and data science analytic approaches directly into behavioral and social sciences predoctoral degree programs. To date, eight TADA-BSSR grants have been awarded.
NIMH’s Director’s Messages provide insights into the latest topics in mental health research:
- RDoC at Ten Years - Part 2: The Next Ten Years (September 11, 2020): In a previous message, Dr. Gordon discussed how the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework has changed the conversation in mental health research since its initiation in 2010. In this message, he looks forward to the next ten years of RDoC.
- Why Testing is the Key to Getting Back to Normal (September 4, 2020): Dr. Gordon joins with 10 other NIH Institute Directors to highlight the importance and necessity of COVID-19 testing and the ways NIH is helping establish programs that will ensure access to and acceptance of rapid and reliable testing for COVID-19.
- RDoC at Ten Years: Part 1 (August 6, 2020): In the first of two Director’s Messages to mark the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative, Dr. Gordon discusses the initial purpose of RDoC and the progress made over the last ten years.
- NIH One Step Closer to Speeding Delivery of COVID-19 Testing Technologies to Those Who Need it Most Through RADx-UP (June 24, 2020): Dr. Gordon collaborated with the leaders of several institutes at NIH to spotlight NIH’s Rapid Acceleration Diagnostics (RADx) Initiative – a national call for scientists and organizations to advance their innovative ideas for new COVID-19 testing approaches and strategies.
- Racism and Mental Health Research: Steps Toward Equity (June 19, 2020): Dr. Gordon describes NIMH efforts to address mental health disparities and ensure an effective and inclusive workforce for mental health research.
- A Plan for Mental Health Research (May 22, 2020): On May 19, 2020, the Institute unveiled its new NIMH Strategic Plan for Research. In this Director’s Message, Dr. Gordon discusses the advances in knowledge and treatment that got us to where we are today and points to where we want our research to go in the future.
NIMH Science News
Here is the latest news about NIMH-supported research:
- Study Shows Highly Reproducible Sex Differences in Aspects of Human Brain Anatomy (July 20, 2020)
- Outdoor Light Linked with Teens’ Sleep and Mental Health (July 8, 2020)
- Brain Cells Can Harbor and Spread HIV Virus to the Body (June 11, 2020)
- NIMH Leadership Describes Suicide Prevention Research Priorities (June 8, 2020)
- NIMH Director’s Statement on Racism (June 4, 2020)
- New NIMH Strategic Plan Paves the Way for Advances in Mental Health Research (May 20, 2020)
Please help us spread the word about NIMH-funded research! If you have a manuscript submitted for publication that describes an especially significant finding, please contact the NIMH Press Team at NIMHpress@nih.gov and notify your NIMH Program Official to discuss the possibility of a news release or other form of dissemination. NIMH has several methods for getting the word out: press releases, Institute updates, and social media. All releases and updates are posted to the Science News section of the NIMH website, distributed to the public through a mailing list, and posted on NIMH social media channels. Please also remember to acknowledge NIMH support of your research, for example, in journal articles (citing your NIMH award by number when possible) and other communications.
Explore research advances and ongoing research supported by or conducted at NIMH:
- Differences in Suicide Risk Among Subgroups of Sexual and Gender Minority College Students (September 8, 2020)
- Genetic Variations Highlight the Importance of Metabolic Processes in Anorexia (July 22, 2020)
These Research Highlights recognize progress the Institute has made across the four Goals of the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research.
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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 https://www.nimh.nih.gov. 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.