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2020 Winter Inside NIMH

Inside NIMH Winter 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 (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

As we transition into 2020, we reflect on our progress and our successes in 2019. This edition of Inside NIMH will focus on recent efforts to advance NIMH research priorities, key developments across the NIH, and our vision for the future.

News to Know

  • NIMH Strategic Planning Efforts: NIMH uses its Strategic Plan for Research to guide the Institute towards achieving its mission. To keep pace with scientific progress, the plan is updated every five years. NIMH leadership and staff drafted the 2020 NIMH Strategic Plan for Research and incorporated feedback heard from members of the NAMHC at the September meeting. NIMH published a Request for Information (RFI) via the NIH Guide and Federal Register to solicit public feedback on the updated Plan. In response to stakeholders’ requests for more time, NIMH extended the deadline for input to the RFI to January 15, 2020 and plans to share findings from the analysis of RFI responses with NAMHC members and the public at the May Council meeting. The Institute plans to publish the new NIMH Strategic Plan for Research in 2020.
  • Outreach Spotlight: To raise awareness about mental health observances throughout the Fall, NIMH highlighted several education and outreach resources in Discover NIMH, its recently launched e-newsletter. For example, NIMH created new social media shareables for stakeholders to use during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, including an infographic on the warning signs of suicide. In addition, NIMH created a new fact sheet with tips for talking with a health care provider about mental health and released a revised fact sheet with five things to know about stress. Sign up for Discover NIMH and find more shareables, videos, exhibit information, and other outreach resources on NIMH’s Education and Awareness portal.
  • Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Updates: The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2019 was signed into law  on September 30, 2019. The new law reauthorizes several federal autism services and research programs, and highlights issues such as the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum across the lifespan. The new law also reauthorizes the IACC. The IACC is seeking nominations  of individuals to serve as non-federal public members on this committee. The call for nominations is open until February 21, 2020.
  • NIMH Considerations Regarding the Use of Animal Neurobehavioral Approaches in Basic and Pre-clinical Studies: NIMH released a Notice  outlining guidelines and priorities for potential applicants considering neurobehavioral approaches in animal research relevant to mental illnesses. Basic and pre-clinical research in animals is critical for understanding fundamental neurobiological mechanisms that drive complex behaviors, and for facilitating NIMH efforts to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses. When determining funding priorities for basic and pre-clinical neuroscience research, NIMH weighs how well the proposed model system will enable important questions to be answered. Additionally, Dr. Gordon has highlighted the role model systems can play in research and treatment of mental illnesses and some important considerations for researchers in two recent Director’s Messages.

Updates and Announcements from NIH

  • NIH-Wide Initiatives
    • Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative: On October 21, 2019, the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0 released their report, From Cells to Circuits, Toward Cures . This report outlines the progress made by NIH BRAIN Initiative investment to date and offers some suggestions regarding NIH activities in the BRAIN Initiative. On the same day, the Neuroethics Subgroup of the ACD BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0 released a report on The BRAIN Initiative and Neuroethics: Enabling and Enhancing Neuroscience Advances for Society . This report details a feasible course for integrating neuroscience and neuroethics during the remaining years of the BRAIN Initiative, and beyond.
    • HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-TermSM) Initiative: On September 26, 2019, NIH announced that it will fund $945 million in research to tackle the national opioid crisis   through the NIH HEAL Initiative  , including four NIMH-funded projects funded under the “HEAL Initiative: Effectiveness Trials to Optimize, Implement, Scale, and Sustain the Collaborative Care Model for Individuals with Opioid Use Disorders and Mental Health Conditions  ” funding opportunity announcement. Collaborative care models utilize treatment teams, often including a primary care provider, a care manager, and a behavioral health specialty consultant. These grants will address gaps in our knowledge and complement studies conducted within opioid use disorder (OUD) specialty care clinics by testing integrated treatment models appropriate for diverse primary care settings, where many patients with OUDs and mental disorders already seek care, and that may be more available in areas where behavioral health specialty providers are scarce.
    • Research Opportunities to Develop Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Screening Tools: On November 6, 2019, NIMH announced it will fund seven studies that seek to translate findings related to early-emerging signs of ASD into practical screening tools that can be implemented in the general population and in community settings. These studies are supported by NIMH and other NIH institutes and centers, including 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 on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
    • Expanding NIH’s Definition of “Socio-Economic Disadvantaged” to be More Inclusive and Diversify the Workforce: NIH recognizes the need to encourage and enable careers of biomedical scientists with disadvantaged backgrounds. In an updated Notice  on workforce diversity, NIH has revised its definition of “socio-economic disadvantaged” to better capture the backgrounds of the scientific workforce and recruit new members. This Guide Notice now supersedes existing diversity language in existing funding opportunities.
  • NIH Leadership News
    • Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S., Ph.D.  retired on December 31, 2019. Dr. Somerman served as the Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) for nine years and is a leader in defining factors that modulate formation of dental, oral, and craniofacial tissues. Dr. Somerman will continue as the Chief of the Laboratory of Oral Connective Tissue Biology at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).
    • NIH welcomes back Norman “Ned” Sharpless, M.D. , one of the nation’s leading oncologists, to resume the leadership of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Sharpless temporarily left NCI in 2019 to serve as the Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the President’s request.
    • NIH will welcome Joshua Denny, M.D., M.S. , as Chief Executive Officer of the All of Us Research Program . As CEO, Dr. Denny will oversee NIH’s efforts to build one of the largest and most comprehensive precision medicine research platforms in the world, in partnership with a diverse network of awardees and research participants. Dr. Denny comes to NIH from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he is a Professor in the Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine.
    • John J. Ngai, Ph.D.  has been selected as the new Director of the NIH BRAIN Initiative  . As Director, Dr. Ngai plans to continue the momentum of the initiative, which is revolutionizing the understanding of the human brain in ways that could transform clinical care for people suffering from neurological and psychiatric disorders. Dr. Ngai comes to NIH from the University of California, Berkeley, where he is the Coates Family Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Budget Overview

  • Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget:  NIMH awarded 653 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2019 and achieved an overall success rate of approximately 25 percent (defined as number of RPG applications funded divided by the number of applications received; see Figure 1). In accordance with Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI)  efforts, NIMH awarded grants to 93 unique early stage investigators (ESIs) and 399 unique at-risk investigators . Cures Awards are funded by appropriations made available through the 21st Century Cures Act .

    Figure 1
    NIMH Applications, Awards, and Success Rates for Research Project Grants
    Fiscal Year Applications Direct Awards Cures Awards Success Rate
    2014 2830 548 0 19
    2015 2480 507 0 20
    2016 2568 587 0 23
    2017 2735 571 0 21
    2018 2701 589 23 23
    2019 2632 638 15 25

    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 2019. 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 320 for $183M.

    Figure 2
    NIMH FY 2019 Competing R01 and Equivalent Applications Awarded and Not-Awarded by Percentile Score
    Percentile Awarded Not Awarded
    1 11 0
    2 15 0
    3 10 0
    4 20 0
    5 15 0
    6 14 0
    7 14 0
    8 15 0
    9 24 1
    10 18 0
    11 11 1
    12 14 2
    13 14 3
    14 12 2
    15 10 6
    16 14 0
    17 13 3
    18 10 3
    19 7 2
    20 9 4
    21 8 7
    22 6 6
    23 6 8
    24 6 7
    25 11 7
    26 5 11
    27 3 5
    28 0 6
    29 0 11
    30 0 10
    31 2 10
    32 0 7
    33 1 11
    34 1 14
    35 0 12
    36 0 6
    37 0 12
    38 1 8
    39 0 8
    40 0 17
    41 0 18
    42 0 17
    43 0 10
    44 0 18
    45 0 6
    46 0 10
    47 0 16
    48 0 11
    49 0 10
    50 0 12
    51 0 15
    52 0 11
    53 0 3
    54 0 4
    55 0 2
    56 0 2

    Figure 3 shows the NIMH budget in appropriated (current) versus constant (FY 2000) dollars (excludes 21st Century Cures funding). 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 3
    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 1480.265 989.482
    2013 1403.005 920.607
    2014 1446.172 929.416
    2015 1433.603 902.773
    2016 1548.390 954.030
    2017 1604.658 963.759
    2018 1711.434 1000.839
    2019 1814.185 1032.547
    2020 1,972.966 1,094.876
  • Outlook for FY 2020: On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 (Public Law No. 116-94 ) providing funds through September 30, 2020. The law provides $2.038 billion to NIMH, representing a 9 percent increase over the FY 2019 appropriation.

NIMH Staff News and Awards

  • Staff News
    • On January 5, 2020, Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., M.P.H, transitioned from his position as the Director of the NIMH Office of Genomics Research Coordination to join the New York Genome Center, where he will serve as the Scientific Director of Neuropsychiatric Disease Genomics. During his 15 years at NIMH, Dr. Lehner pioneered the NIMH genomics program and oversaw its expansion. Dr. Lehner was central to the development of many of the large Team Science initiatives such as the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, the Autism Sequencing Consortium, PsychENCODE, and Convergent Neuroscience.
    • On January 28, 2020, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced that Susan Amara, Ph.D., Scientific Director of NIMH Intramural Research Programs (IRP), was elected to serve as President-Elect. Beginning in February 2020, Dr. Amara will serve as President-Elect for one year; she will subsequently serve as AAAS President for one year, then spend one year as Chair of the AAAS Board of Directors. During this appointment, Dr. Amara will continue to serve as Scientific Director of NIMH IRP and Chief of the NIMH Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, where she studies the structural, functional, and cellular physiology of neurotransmitter transporters.
    • On January 31, 2020, Beverly Pringle, Ph.D., Director of the NIMH Center for Global Mental Health Research, left NIMH to join the Peace Corps. Dr. Pringle joined the NIMH Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health (ORDGMH) in 2013 as Chief of Global Mental Health Research and became the ORDGMH Deputy Director in 2017. During her time at NIMH, she provided scientific and administrative leadership of global mental health research. Many thanks to Pim Brouwers, Ph.D., who has agreed to serve as Acting Director while we conduct a search for a new Director. In addition, Andrea Horvath Marques, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. will lead the Global Mental Health Team through this transition.
    • Nitin Gogtay, M.D., will be transitioning from NIMH to the American Psychiatric Association in March 2020, where he will serve as the Director of Research and Deputy Medical Director. Dr. Gogtay has been NIMH’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Office of Clinical Research since 2013. During his time at NIMH, Dr. Gogtay was instrumental in establishing the Office of Clinical Research (OCR), which brought several important extramural operations under a single unified mission. Prior to joining OCR, Dr. Gogtay worked in the NIMH IRP Child Psychiatry Branch for 15 years, where he studied typical and atypical brain development in childhood onset psychoses. Many thanks to Anna Ordóñez, M.D., who has agreed to serve as OCR Acting Director, while NIMH conducts a national search for the new Director.
  • Staff Awards
    • Three Principal Investigators in the NIMH Intramural Research Programs (IRP) were honored with the title of NIH Distinguished Investigator: Daniel Pine, M.D., Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D., and Carlos Zarate, Jr., M.D. This title is reserved for NIH’s most preeminent Senior Investigators and requires a special peer review and approval by the NIH Director.
    • Carlos Zarate, Jr., M.D., Chief of the Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch in the NIMH IRP, received the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Dolores Shockley Minority Mentorship Award. Dr. Zarate’s current research focus is on developing novel medications for treatment-resistant depression and bipolar disorder.
    • Armin Raznahan, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit in the NIMH IRP, was awarded the ACNP Eva King Killam Research Award. His research combines neuroimaging, genomic, and bioinformatic techniques to better understand the architecture of human brain development in health, and in neurogenetic disorders that increase risk for psychiatric symptoms.
    • Argyris Stringaris, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPsych, Chief of the Mood, Brain, and Development Unit in the NIMH IRP was awarded tenure. Dr. Stringaris’ research focuses on how mood is generated and maintained and seeks to use this knowledge in order to improve the treatment of young people with depression and related conditions.

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:

  • Election to the National Academy of Medicine is one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. In October, several NIMH grantees were elected to the Academy in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health:
    • Edwin (Ted) G. Abel, Ph.D. (University of Iowa)
    • David G. Amaral, Ph.D. (University of California, Davis)
    • Peter S. Bearman, Ph.D. (Columbia University)
    • James H. Eberwine, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania)
    • Scott L. Rauch, M.D. (McLean Hospital; Harvard Medical School)
    • Nenad Sestan, M.D., Ph.D. (Yale University)
    • Beth Stevens, Ph.D. (Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Howard Hughes Medical Institute)
    • Catherine S. Woolley, Ph.D. (Northwestern University)
    • Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D. (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)
  • Several NIMH-supported researchers were honored at the ACNP annual conference in December 2019:
    • Julius Axelrod Mentorship Award: James Leckman, M.D., Ph.D. (Yale University)
    • Joel Elkes Research Award: Alan Anticevic, Ph.D. (Yale University)
    • Daniel H. Efron Research Award: Scott Russo, Ph.D. (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)

Notable NIMH Grants

  • Pleiotropy is a phenomenon where a single gene affects multiple traits or characteristics. If a pleiotropic gene undergoes mutation, there may be extensive effects on brain function. Because of this, pleiotropic genes are believed to explain why many disorders may share common genetic mechanisms. With the support of NIMH’s Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, Phil H. Lee, Ph.D.  (Harvard Medical School; Massachusetts General Hospital) aims to conduct the largest study to date of pleiotropic genetic risk factors for neuropsychiatric disorders. She plans to utilize existing genome-wide data on more than one million research participants spanning 11 disorders such as ASD, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to identify genetic loci that contribute to risk shared across two or more disorders. She is also developing methods that incorporate available functional genomic data into the cross-disorder analysis. Results of this analysis may help to understand the fundamental biological mechanisms of pleiotropic risk loci that enable their wide-reaching effects on brain function and development.
  • The human auditory system is finely tuned to detect patterns in speech and music. Auditory cues can even become strongly associated with motor responses (e.g., tapping one’s foot to the beat of a song). With the support of NIMH’s Division of Translational Research, Miriam Lense, Ph.D.  (Vanderbilt University) and Warren Jones, Ph.D.  (Emory University) are exploring the mechanisms that underlie associations between music, rhythm, and communication in typically developing toddlers and toddlers with ASD. One of the hallmarks of ASD is atypical social interaction, and Drs. Lense and Jones will be investigating whether musical rhythm entrainment early in life can improve delivery and interpretation of social information. This research has the potential to identify basic mechanistic processes of social entrainment in ASD and may support the development of evidence-based music interventions for social communication in ASD.
  • Mental health advocates, researchers, and those who work in the criminal justice system are motivated to reduce the number of individuals with mental disorders in jail or prison. With support from the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research, Faye Taxman, Ph.D.  (George Mason University) and Jennifer Johnson, Ph.D.  (Michigan State University) plan to evaluate the effectiveness of The Stepping Up Initiative , a nation-wide initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses who are incarcerated. The Stepping Up Initiative aims to establish interagency teams across mental health, jail, probation, parole, and county administration systems and determine common treatment and jail reduction priorities across agencies. Evaluating the effectiveness of The Stepping Up Initiative has the potential to improve available treatments and services for individuals with mental disorders who are incarcerated and sustain interagency cooperation long-term, with the hope of leading to reformed local policies that may better serve this multi-need population.

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

  • NIMH Instrumentation Program
    • Release date: November 26, 2019; Application due dates: February 10, 2020 – October 8, 2021
    • S10 announcement (RFA-MH-20-555 )
  • Practice-Based Research for Implementing Scalable Evidence-Based Prevention Interventions in Primary Care Settings
  • Utilizing Invasive Recording and Stimulating Opportunities in Humans to Advance Neural Circuitry Understanding of Mental Health Disorders
  • Addressing Suicide Research Gaps: Understanding Mortality Outcomes
  • Enhancing Suicide Prevention in Emergency Care via Telehealth
    • Release date: November 19, 2019; Application due date: February 10, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-20-226 )
  • Identification, Validation, and Manipulation of Neural Circuits Related to Mental Illness and Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders in Non-human Primates
    • Release date: October 25, 2019; Application due date: February 10, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-20-320 )
  • NIMH Career Enhancement Award to Advance Autism Services Research for Adults and Transition-Age Youth
  • Dysregulation and Proximal Risk for Suicide
  • BRAIN Initiative: Non-Invasive Neuromodulation - New Tools and Techniques for Spatiotemporal Precision
    • Release date: June 27, 2019; Application due date: February 14, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-20-310 )
  • Pilot Effectiveness Trials for Treatment, Preventive and Services Interventions
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: February 14, 2020 – October 15, 2020
    • R34 announcement (RFA-MH-18-706 )
  • Early Stage Testing of Pharmacologic or Device-based Interventions for the Treatment of Mental Disorders
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: February 14, 2020 – October 15, 2020
    • R61/R33 announcement (RFA-MH-18-702 )
    • R33 announcement (RFA-MH-18-703 )
  • Development of Psychosocial Therapeutic and Preventive Interventions for Mental Disorders
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: February 14, 2020 – October 15, 2020
    • R61/R33 announcement (RFA-MH-18-704 )
    • R33 announcement (RFA-MH-18-705 )
  • Confirmatory Efficacy Clinical Trials of Non-Pharmacological Interventions for Mental Disorders
    • Release date: November 14, 2017; Application due dates: February 14, 2020 – October 15, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-18-707 )
  • Clinical Trials to Test the Effectiveness of Treatment, Preventive, and Services Interventions
  • Implementing and Sustaining Evidence-Based Mental Health Practices in Low-Resource Settings to Achieve Equity in Outcomes
    • Release date: November 27, 2019; Application due dates: February 24, 2020 – August 25, 2020
    • R34 announce (RFA-MH-20-401) 
  • Effectiveness of Implementing Sustainable Evidence-Based Mental Health Practices in Low-Resource Settings to Achieve Mental Health Equity for Traditionally Underserved Populations
    • Release date: November 27, 2019; Application due dates: February 24, 2020 – August 25, 2020
    • R01 announce (RFA-MH-20-400 )
  • Safety and Feasibility Trials for Rapid-Acting Interventions for Severe Suicide Risk
    • Release date: November 25, 2019; Application due date: February 26, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-20-345 )
  • Fine-Mapping Genome-Wide Associated Loci to Identify Proximate Causal Mechanisms of Serious Mental Illness
    • Release date: November 27, 2019; Application due date: February 28, 2020
    • R01 announce (RFA-MH-21-100 )
  • Laboratories to Optimize Digital Health
    • Release date: November 25, 2019; Application due dates: March 2, 2020 – November 2, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-20-510 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Integration and Analysis of BRAIN Initiative Data
    • Release date: July 17, 2018; Application due dates: March 6, 2020 – March 4, 2021
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-19-147 )
  • Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET): Practice-Based Research to Improve Treatment Outcomes
    • Release date: November 18, 2019; Application due date: March 10, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-20-205 )
  • Novel Imaging Approaches for detection of Persistent HIV and Neuroimmune dysfunction associated with HIV In the Central Nervous System (CNS)
  • BRAIN Initiative Fellows: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship
    • Release date: November 07, 2017; Application due date: April 07, 2020
    • F32 announcement (RFA-MH-18-510 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Secondary Analysis and Archiving of BRAIN Initiative Data
    • Release date: April 10, 2019; Application due date: June 11, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-20-120 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Development and Validation of Novel Tools to Probe Cell-Specific and Circuit-Specific Processes in the Brain
    • Release date: May 03, 2018; Application due date: September 09, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-19-136 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Development of Novel Tools to Probe Cell-Specific and Circuit-Specific Processes in Human and Non-Human Primate Brain
    • Release date: August 2, 2018; Application due date: September 28, 2020
    • UG3/UH3 announcement (RFA-MH-19-135 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Tools to Facilitate High-Throughput Microconnectivity Analysis
    • Release date: April 9, 2019; Application due date: September 30, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-20-135 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Research on the Ethical Implications of Advancements in Neurotechnology and Brain Science
    • Release date: October 17, 2018; Application due date: October 9, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-19-400 )
  • Computationally-Defined Behaviors in Psychiatry
    • Release date: August 9, 2018; Application due date: November 20, 2020
    • R21 announcement (RFA-MH-19-240 )
  • Computational Approaches for Validating Dimensional Constructs of Relevance to Psychopathology
    • Release date: September 26, 2018; Application due date: November 20, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-MH-19-242 )

NIMH-Collaborative Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • BRAIN Initiative Advanced Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity
    • Release date: November 14, 2019; Application due dates: February 10, 2020 - October 11, 2022
    • K99/R00 announcement (RFA-NS-19-043 ; RFA-NS-19-044 )
  • Transformative Research Award for the Investigation of Co-occurring Conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndrome (INCLUDE) Project
    • Release date: December 13, 2019; Application due dates: February 14, 2020 – November 3, 2021
    • R01 announcement (RFA-OD-20-005 )
  • NIH Blueprint Program for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (BP-ENDURE)
    • Release date: November 19, 2019; Application due date: February 19, 2020
    • R25 announcement (RFA-NS-20-015 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Next-Generation Invasive Devices for Recording and Modulation in the Human Central Nervous System
    • Release date: December 21, 2017; Application due dates: February 21, 2020 – October 21, 2020
    • UG3/UH3 announcement (RFA-NS-18-021 )
    • U44 announcement (RFA-NS-18-022 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Clinical Studies to Advance Next-Generation Invasive Devices for Recording and Modulation in the Human Central Nervous System
    • Release date: December 21, 2017; Application due dates: February 21, 2020 – October 21, 2020
    • UH3 announcement (RFA-NS-18-023 )
  • HEAL Initiative: Translational Devices to Treat Pain
    • Release date: December 10, 2018; Application due dates: February 21, 2020 – February 21, 2021
    • UG3/UH3 announcement (RFA-NS-19-016 )
    • U44 announcement (RFA-NS-19-017 )
  • HEAL Initiative: Clinical Devices to Treat Pain
    • Release date: December 10, 2018; Application due dates: February 21, 2020 – February 21, 2021
    • UH3 announcement (RFA-NS-19-018 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Research Resource Grants for Technology Integration and Dissemination
    • Release date: October 22, 2018; Application due dates: February 27, 2020 – June 27, 2021
    • U24 announcement (RFA-NS-19-006 )
  • Methods and Measurement in Research with Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Populations
    • Release date: December 23, 2019; Application due date: March 13, 2020
    • R21 announcement (RFA_MD-20-005 )
  • Digital, Limited Interaction Trials and  Epidemiology (D-LITE): Targeting HIV Incidence in the United States
    • Release date: January 8, 2020; Application due date: March 20, 2020
    • U01 announcement (RFA-AI-19-067 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Biology and Biophysics of Neural Stimulation and Recording Technologies
    • Release date: January 2, 2020; Application due dates: March 24, 2020 – October 3, 2022
    • R01 announcement (RFA-NS-20-006 )
  • Centers for Collaborative Research in Fragile X and FMR1-Associated Conditions
    • Release date: January 16, 2020; Application due date: April 3, 2020
    • P50 announcement (RFA-HD-20-003 )
  • NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award
    • Release date: October 3, 2018; Application due dates: April 15, 2020 – April 15, 2021
    • F99/K00 announcement (RFA-NS-19-011 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Optimization of Transformative Technologies for Large Scale Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System
    • Release date: March 14, 2018; Application due dates: May 1, 2020 – October 29, 2020
    • U01 announcement (RFA-NS-18-019 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: New Technologies and Novel Approaches for Large-Scale Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System
    • Release date: March 14, 2018; Application due dates: May 1, 2020 – October 29, 2020
    • U01 announcement (RFA-NS-18-020 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: New Concepts and Early - Stage Research for Large - Scale Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System
    • Release date: March 2, 2018; Application due dates: May 1, 2020 – October 29, 2020
    • R21 announcement (RFA-EY-18-001 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Biology and Biophysics of Neural Stimulation
    • Release date: December 14, 2017; Application due dates: June 4, 2020 – October 6, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-NS-18-018 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Research Opportunities Using Invasive Neural Recording and Stimulating Technologies in the Human Brain
    • Release date: August 28, 2018; Application due dates: June 19, 2020 – October 19, 2020
    • U01 announcement (RFA-NS-19-001 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Targeted BRAIN Circuits Projects- TargetedBCP
    • Release date: April 19, 2018; Application due dates: July 1, 2020 – November 10, 2020
    • R01 announcement (RFA-NS-18-030 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Targeted BRAIN Circuits Planning Projects – TargetedBCPP
    • Release date: December 14, 2017; Application due dates: July 1, 2020 – November 10, 2020
    • R34 announcement (RFA-NS-18-014 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Development of Next Generation Human Brain Imaging Tools and Technologies
    • Release date: June 27, 2019; Application due dates: September 3, 2020 – September 3, 2021
    • U01 announcement (RFA-EB-19-002 )
  • BRAIN Initiative: Team-Research BRAIN Circuit Programs – TeamBCP
  • The Intersection of Sex and Gender Influences on Health and Disease
    • Release date: September 27, 2019; Application due dates: November 25, 2020 – November 26, 2021
    • R01 announcement (RFA-OD-19-029 )
  • HEAL INITIATIVE: Development of Therapies and Technologies Directed at Enhanced Pain Management

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

  • NIMH Rare Genetic Diseases Network: On September 10-11, 2019, NIMH hosted a kick-off meeting for the principal investigators of the NIMH Rare Genetic Diseases Network . Attendees discussed challenges and identified collaborative opportunities for delineating the genetic risk architecture of mental disorders using rare genetic syndromes as a model.
  • Twitter Chat on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: On October 16, 2019, NIMH hosted a Twitter chat on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for ADHD Awareness Month. The chat covered signs, symptoms, treatments, current research, and tips for helping children and adults.
  • Multimodal Neuroimaging and Neuroscience Workshop: On October 31-November 1, 2019, the NIMH IRP’s Center for Multimodal Neuroimaging hosted a workshop to discuss the current state of multimodal neuroimaging research and what needs to be done, theoretically and methodologically, to maximize the output and usefulness of data. Multimodal neuroimaging refers to the combination of data from two or more neuroimaging techniques (e.g., fMRI and EEG) from the same participants in pursuit of a deeper understanding of neuroscience mechanisms.
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG) North America Workshop: On November 7-8, 2019, the NIMH IRP hosted the MEG North America Workshop . MEG measures magnetic fields in the brain and provides precise timing and localization of activity. During the workshop, attendees participated in the first ever MEG-focused hackathon, which featured software demonstrations, a software workshop, and a collaborative session.
  • Development and Environment in Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Workshop: On November 18-19, 2019, the NIMH RDoC Workgroup hosted a workshop to discuss the role of developmental and environmental factors in research informed by the RDoC framework. Attendees discussed ways of conceptualizing the complexity of developmental trajectories and environmental influences from the perspective of the domains, constructs, and units of analysis in the RDoC matrix, and also considered how best to communicate with researchers regarding principles of study designs that explore these relationships.
  • Webinar – Making Health Care Transition Work for Youth with Autism: Youth and Parent Perspectives and National Resources: On December 13, 2019, the NIMH Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) and the National Autism Coordinator (NAC) hosted a webinar  on transitioning from pediatric to adult health care for youth with autism. The webinar hosts provided information that might be useful to share with heath care providers, addressed concerns about making the shift to adult care, and offered suggestions for health care providers of pediatric and adult patients to improve the transition for youth and young adults with autism and their caregivers. This was the first of a series of webinars on services and resources for individuals with autism and their families.
  • NIMH Reddit “Ask Me Anything”– Small Business Research Programs: NIMH’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)  and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)  program coordinator, Margaret Grabb, Ph.D., participated in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) event on January 29, 2020. This event enabled academic entrepreneurs and small businesses to ask Dr. Grabb about these funding programs, as well as how and when to apply.

Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Activities

Electronic Grant Application Submission News

  • New NIH "FORMS-F" Applications and Instructions: NIH and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently announced plans to transition to updated application forms and instructions for due dates on or after May 25, 2020 (FORMS-F; NOT-OD-20-026 ). This Notice provides additional information on the planned changes to forms and instructions affecting research training grant, fellowship, and career development award applications.

NIH-Wide Grant News

  • NIH Seeks to Fund Research on Ethical Considerations to Biomedical Research: NIH announced a new FOA for administrative supplements to support research on bioethical considerations which are intrinsic to the responsible conduct of biomedical research and the translation of scientific and technological advances into practice. Research into bioethical issues can provide an evidentiary basis to guide conduct, content, and/or application of the biomedical and behavioral sciences and their associated policies, which becomes of increasing importance as science and societal views continue to evolve. The investment demonstrates NIH’s commitment to safeguarding the integrity of the research that it conducts and supports (NOT-OD-20-038 ).
  • Human Subjects Research Decision Tool Updated: NIH has updated its decision tool  to help investigators determine if their research involves human subjects, or if it may be considered exempt from federal regulations on the protection of human subjects. The tool now reflects changes effective in the 2018 Revised Common Rule.
  • NIH Extension Policy for Eligibility Window for Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00): The four-year postdoc eligibility window for K99 applicants will be extended by one year for those who apply for an extension for childbirth. Extensions are also available for childcare, illness, disability, and other various reasons. K99 applicants must send a justification to their Program Officer at least 12 weeks before submitting their grant application (NOT-OD-20-011 ).
  • Changes to the NIH Loan Repayment Programs: The trans-NIH Loan Repayment Program (LRP) Legislation Implementation Action Plan Workgroup was formed to advise the NIH Director regarding implementation of provisions within the 21st Century Cures Act. Recommendations (NOT-OD-19-117 ) from this Workgroup are being implemented as follows:
    1. Increase the maximum LRP award amount from $35,000/year to $50,000/year beginning September 1, 2019.
    2. Expand participation within the Health Disparities Research LRP to all NIH institutes and centers beginning September 1, 2019 for the FY 2020 LRP application cycle.
    3. Establish an Emerging and Gap Areas of Research LRP. This recommendation will be implemented for FY 2021 awards.

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:

  • NIMH Joins the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Program: NIMH is now participating  in the MOSAIC Program , which is part of NIH’s efforts to enhance diversity within the academic biomedical research workforce and is designed to facilitate the transition of talented postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds into independent faculty careers in research-intensive institutions. The MOSAIC K99/R00 program aims to provide independent NIH research support before and after this transition to help awardees launch successful, independent research careers. Additionally, MOSAIC K99/R00 scholars will be part of organized scientific cohorts and will be expected to participate in mentoring, networking, and professional development activities coordinated by MOSAIC Institutionally-Focused Research Education Award to Promote Diversity (UE5) grantees.

Director’s Messages

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

NIMH Science News

Here is the latest news about NIMH-supported research:

Please help us spread the word about NIMH-funded research! If your paper has been accepted, please notify the NIMH press team at 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.

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.

Connect with NIMH

Sign up  for the latest mental health news, research advances, upcoming events, publications, clinical trials, meeting summaries, and more. In addition to our email newsletters and RSS updates, please also visit NIMH on Twitter , Facebook , and YouTube , where we highlight Science Updates, Press Releases, and other timely matters.

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.