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2021 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

Please let us know if you have questions or comments on this edition. If you wish to unsubscribe, subscribe, or change your email address, please contact the NIMH Webmaster or visit the Inside NIMH subscription page .

Director’s Updates

While the past year has been challenging, a new year brings the promise of change and hope. In this edition of the newsletter, we at NIMH reflect on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlight research by NIMH-supported scientists, and celebrate the accomplishments of staff and grantees.

News to Know

  • NIMH’s Response to COVID-19: We continue to monitor and respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic. NIMH is involved in several trans-NIH efforts, including the Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Impacts of COVID-19 Working Group and multiple Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx)  programs, such as RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) . RADx-UP 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. In December 2020, NIMH published a Notice  announcing the availability of administrative supplements for researchers to cover unanticipated costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or related mitigation efforts. NIMH staff have developed resources and shared coping strategies to help people during the pandemic, and NIMH-supported researchers are hard at work examining  the effects of COVID-19 on mental health and ways to improve telehealth during this challenging time. Dr. Gordon has spoken often about the impact of the pandemic, and in November 2020, he shared a personal perspective on the importance of remembering the lives lost to COVID-19. More information about NIH’s response to the pandemic and guidance for researchers can be found on the NIH COVID-19 webpage .
  • Accelerating Medicines Partnership in Schizophrenia (AMP-SCZ) : On September 15, 2020, in collaboration with the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and multiple public and private partners, NIMH launched the AMP-SCZ initiative. AMP-SCZ is part of the broader AMP  program managed by FNIH, which aims to identify and validate the most promising biological targets for therapeutics. The overall aim of AMP-SCZ is to develop early stage interventions for patients who are at risk of developing schizophrenia.
  • Outreach Spotlight: NIMH staff created and shared several educational resources to support community outreach efforts and raise awareness about mental health observances throughout fall and winter. In October, NIMH shared a new infographic, My Mental Health: Do I Need Help?, during Mental Illness Awareness Week and the recently revised brochure on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for OCD Awareness Week. October was also Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month. In recognition of this, NIMH hosted a social media livestream event about managing ADHD and posted a new ADHD shareables page on its Education and Awareness portal. In December, NIMH shared its new Seasonal Affective Disorder fact sheet and an updated HIV/AIDs and mental health page for World AIDS Day. To kick off 2021, NIMH distributed messages and resources to support self-care during the pandemic. NIMH also hosted a social media livestream event on managing stress and anxiety. In addition, NIMH participated in several virtual exhibits to reach the public, providers, and other stakeholders, including the USA Science and Engineering Festival, where NIMH shared its science education resources for children and teens.

Updates and Announcements from NIH

  • NIH in the Spotlight
    • NIH COVID-19 Vaccine Kick-Off Event: In a partnership with Moderna, NIH researchers successfully designed, created, and tested a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, building on years of basic and clinical research. This unprecedented scientific achievement comes less than a year following the identification of the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. On December 22, NIH held a COVID-19 vaccination kick-off event  to mark the beginning of its vaccination program for employees on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The live event featured remarks by NIH Office of Research Services Director Colleen McGowan, HHS Secretary Alex Azar II, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., and NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. Six Clinical Center front-line health care workers were immunized with the first of two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, known as mRNA 1273 . Ms. McGowan, Mr. Azar, Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Collins were also immunized to demonstrate their confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, which has been shown to be safe, and more than 94% efficacious in large-scale clinical trials. On January 26, 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff received the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Collins and Vice President Harris remarked  on the impact of NIH science and the importance of immunization.
    • NIH Researcher Awarded Nobel Prize: On October 5, 2020, Harvey J. Alter, M.D. , along with his colleagues Michael Houghton, Ph.D., and Charles M. Rice, Ph.D., was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to the discovery of the hepatitis C virus. Dr. Alter has been with NIH for more than 50 years and currently works as a Senior Scholar at the NIH Clinical Center’s Department of Transfusion Medicine.
  • NIH-Wide Initiatives
    • Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL)SM Initiative: On November 16-17, 2020, the National Institute on Drug Abuse hosted a two-day meeting  to discuss updates on the HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) Study  , a research program that is part of the HEAL Initiative. The primary goal of the HBCD is to better understand how early exposure to opioids affects infant and child development. To accomplish this goal, HBCD is supporting research to better understand typical brain development, beginning in the prenatal period and extending through early childhood, including variability in development and how it contributes to cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional function. The meeting provided an opportunity for HBCD investigators to discuss progress, report findings, and develop plans for Phase II of the study. Investigators shared feedback on topics that will be helpful to HBCD as it moves into the second phase of the study, including strategies to establish partnerships across various communities (urban, rural, indigenous, etc.); ethical and legal considerations for participating mothers and children; effective recruitment and retention plans; protocol establishment for observational, behavioral, and imaging assessments; and, imaging and software technology development as well as feasibility and data quality testing.
    • All of Us Research Program: On November 12, 2020, the All of Us Research Program hosted a virtual event   to provide information about their Researcher Workbench  , a new cloud-based platform that enables investigators to execute rapid, hypothesis-driven research using the All of Us database, one of the largest and most diverse biomedical datasets of its kind. Attendees learned about the program’s vision, saw a demonstration of the Workbench, heard from other researchers who have leveraged All of Us data and tools to power their studies, and learned how to register, access, and analyze data in the Workbench.

Budget Overview

  • Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget: NIMH awarded 607 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2020 and achieved an overall success rate of approximately 23 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  efforts, NIMH awarded grants to 99 unique early stage investigators and 183 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
    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
    2020 2694 590 17 23

    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 2020. 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 270 for $170M.

    Figure 2
    NIMH FY 2020 Competing R01 and Equivalent Applications Awarded and Not-Awarded by Percentile Score
    Percentile Awarded Not Awarded
    1 14 0
    2 14 0
    3 14 0
    4 20 0
    5 17 0
    6 10 0
    7 18 0
    8 10 0
    9 10 0
    10 11 0
    11 13 4
    12 16 1
    13 8 1
    14 8 7
    15 7 3
    16 13 1
    17 9 3
    18 12 9
    19 5 4
    20 7 3
    21 1 5
    22 11 8
    23 7 8
    24 3 5
    25 3 13
    26 1 4
    27 1 10
    28 2 7
    29 1 16
    30 2 4
    31 0 10
    32 0 14
    33 0 3
    34 1 11
    35 0 24
    36 0 11
    37 0 14
    38 0 9
    39 1 12
    40 0 11
    41 0 12
    42 0 10
    43 0 7
    44 0 15
    45 0 13
    46 0 8
    47 0 16
    48 0 7
    49 0 16
    50 0 13
    51 0 12
    52 0 8
    53 0 4
    54 0 3
    55 0 2
    56 0 1

    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 1003.185
    2019 1814.185 1041.004
    2020 1972.966 1104.717
    2021 2053.708 1122.858
  • Outlook for FY 2021: On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (Public Law No. 116-260 ), providing funds through September 30, 2021. The bill provides $2.103 billion to NIMH, an increase of $80 million over the FY 2020 appropriation. This includes $50 million from the 21st Century Cures Act earmarked for the NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative.

NIMH Staff News and Awards

  • Staff News
    • Mi Hillefors, M.D., Ph.D., has been selected as the Deputy Director for the NIMH Division of Translational Research (DTR). Dr. Hillefors has been with NIMH for over 15 years; first, as a research fellow in the NIMH Intramural Research Program (IRP), then as a program officer, and most recently, as Acting Deputy Director for DTR.
    • We are sad to announce the passing of 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 IRP. Dr. Ungerleider worked at NIMH for 45 years, where she studied how the brain processes visual information and co-discovered what are now known colloquially as the "what and where" pathways, one pathway for object recognition and the other for spatial perception. Leslie will be remembered as an extraordinary mentor and first-class NIH citizen who gave both her heart and mind to the support of the NIH mission.
  • Staff Awards
    • Carlos Zarate, M.D., NIH Distinguished Investigator and Chief of the NIMH IRP Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine for the paradigm-shifting discovery that a single ketamine infusion has rapid, robust, and relatively sustained antidepressant effects in individuals with treatment-resistant depression and bipolar depression. Election to the National Academy of Medicine is one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.
    • Several researchers in the NIMH IRP were awarded Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) Young Investigator Grants to help extend their research fellowship training or begin careers as independent research faculty.
      • Simone Haller, Ph.D. (Neuroscience and Novel Therapeutics Unit)
      • Bashkim Kadriu, M.D. (Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch)
      • Mario Penzo, Ph.D. (Unit on the Neurobiology of Affective Memory)
      • Hugo Tejeda, Ph.D. (Unit on Neuromodulation and Synaptic Integration)

Director’s Highlights: NIMH Scientists and Science

Grantee Awards and Updates

We are proud to recognize significant achievements and awards received by our current grantees.

  • National Award Presented to Emergency Physicians for Innovative Work in Suicide Prevention, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American College of Emergency Physicians
    • Emmy Betz, M.D., MPH, FACEP (University of Colorado, Denver) 
  • 2020 Brilliant New Investigator, Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science
    • Teresa Brockie, Ph.D., MSN, RN, FAAN (Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center for American Indian Health)
  • Ruane Prize for Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Research, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
    • Joan L. Luby, M.D. (Washington University School of Medicine)
  • Several NIMH-supported researchers were honored at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Annual Meeting in December 2020.
    • Daniel H. Efron Research Award: Kay Tye, Ph.D. (Salk Institute for Biological Studies)
    • Dolores Shockley Minority Mentoring Award: Gregory Quirk, Ph.D. (University of Puerto Rico)
    • Eva King Killam Research Award: Panos Roussos, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D. (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)
    • Joel Elkes Research Award: Romina Mizrahi, M.D., Ph.D. (McGill Department of Psychiatry)
    • Paul Hoch Distinguished Service Award: Joseph Coyle, M.D. (Harvard Medical School)

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 achieve the research goals outlined in the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research.

  • Researchers are working to establish assays of memory consolidation that reflect shared neurobiology across species. The NIMH Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science is supporting two investigators, Dara Manoach, Ph.D.  (Harvard Medical School), and Carmen Varela, Ph.D.  (Florida Atlantic University), who plan to conduct a series of experiments to optimize and evaluate the predictive value of thalamocortical sleep spindles (brief, powerful bursts of synchronous neural activity that occur during sleep) on memory consolidation in both humans and rats. In the first experiment, researchers will simultaneously record thalamocortical sleep spindles and two other neural activity patterns in patients with epilepsy who undergo neural recording as part of their treatment. In the second experiment, researchers hope to determine which patterns of neural activity during sleep best predict memory consolidation in both humans and rats. Developing novel physiological assays of sleep-dependent memory consolidation across species may help researchers predict the efficacy of newly emerging therapeutics to treat cognitive deficits occurring in mental illnesses.
  • The number of young people dying by suicide in the United States continues to rise, and risk for suicide death is much greater when there is an unlocked, loaded firearm in the home. With support from the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research, Rinad Beidas, Ph.D.  (University of Pennsylvania), aims to investigate the most effective way to implement a universal safe firearm storage program for patients in pediatric primary care. Researchers plan to compare Nudge, an implementation strategy that involves brief counseling and provision of a firearm cable lock to caregivers, with Nudge+, which adds 12 months of technical assistance to healthcare providers to address implementation barriers and ensure the intervention is sustainable. Combining feedback from pediatric clinicians, health system leaders, and firearm-owning parents, as well as insights from behavioral economics, the researchers aim to generate recommendations on how to boost acceptability and feasibility of firearm safety practices.
  • The importance of data sharing has become increasingly evident throughout the neuroimaging community, and more funding bodies and scientific journals now require data sharing plans. With support from the NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative® , in which NIMH participates, Robert Innis, M.D. (NIMH Intramural Research Programs), and Gitte Knudsen, M.D., DMSc (Copenhagen University Hospital), are working with colleagues around the world to establish the OpenNeuroPET Archive for positron emission tomography (PET) data. The OpenNeuroPET Archive aims to provide a wide range of tools to improve the reliability, replicability, and sharing of PET data. It also aims to help establish a set of “best practices” for PET, including a recommended pipeline for data analysis. To increase accuracy and replicability, the Archive will have data sets, both simulated and real, that centers can use to check their data analytic methods.

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. Information about the review process can be found on NIH’s Understand Funding Opportunities  webpage.

Program Announcements

Program Announcements (PAs) are formal statements 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). These types of FOAs may serve as a reminder of continuing interest in a research area, describe modification to an activity or program, and/or invite applications for grant support.

Featured Program Announcements:

  • Practice-Based Suicide Prevention Research Centers (PAR-20-286 )
  • Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) Research Centers (PAR-20-293 )

Notices of Special Interest

Notices of Special Interest (NOSIs) have replaced  Institute-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.

Featured Notices of Special Interest:

  • Notice of Special Interest: Administrative Supplements for COVID-19 Impacted NIMH Research (NOT-MH-21-120 )
  • Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Adopting Techniques and Tools Developed from the BRAIN Initiative Toward NIMH Strategic Research Priorities (NOT-MH-21-115 )
  • Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Research on Risk and Prevention of Black Youth Suicide (NOT-MH-20-055 ) 

Requests for Applications

Requests for Applications (RFAs) are formal statements that solicit 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 and indicate the amount of funds set aside for the RFA. Applications in response to RFAs are reviewed using FOA specific peer review criteria. 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.

Featured Requests for Applications:

  • Post-Acute Interventions for the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa (RFA-MH-20-500 )
  • BRAIN Initiative Fellows: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (RFA-MH-20-620 )
  • Service-Ready Tools for Identification, Prevention, and Treatment of Individuals at Risk for Suicide (RFA-MH-21-110 ; RFA-MH-21-111 ; RFA-MH-21-112 )
  • HEAL Initiative: Optimizing Multi-Component Service Delivery Interventions for People with Opioid Use Disorder, Co-Occurring Conditions, and/or Suicide Risk (RFA-MH-21-145 )
  • Social Drivers of Mental Illnesses in Low- & Middle-Income Countries: Mechanisms and Pathways of Interventions for Youth (RFA-MH-21-160 )

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 list 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.

For more information about concept clearances, please see recent NAMHC-approved concepts. To send questions about a specific concept, reach out to For links to past NAMHC meeting agendas, NAMHC meeting minutes, and editions of Inside NIMH (Director’s Report to Council and Grantee Newsletter), see past NAMHC meetings.

NIMH-Sponsored Meetings

  • Risk, Resilience, and Trajectories in Preteen Suicide: On January 27 and 29, 2021, NIMH hosted the first set of three research roundtables focused on understanding suicide risk and risk trajectories among children and pre-teens. During the first roundtable, which convened researchers, mental health practitioners, and members of the public, attendees discussed the state of the science and research priorities. The goal of this series is to inform identification of at-risk youth as well as timing and targets for intervention.
  • NIMH Virtual Workshop: Gene-Based Therapeutics for Rare Genetic Neurodevelopmental Psychiatric Disorders: On January 21, 2021, NIMH hosted a virtual workshop, “Gene-Based Therapeutics for Rare Genetic Neurodevelopmental Psychiatric Disorders.” This workshop convened experts from academia, government, and industry to provide insights into the potential challenges and opportunities for gene-based therapeutic strategies for individuals with rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorders. Attendees discussed the current state of science in gene-targeted therapeutics, characteristics of suitable genetic and molecular targets and mechanisms for gene-based therapies, and some of the gene-targeted approaches that are currently being used in clinics or are under development.
  • NIMH Livestream Event: Managing Stress and Anxiety: On January 14, 2021, NIMH hosted a livestream event on managing stress and anxiety. Everyone experiences stress from time to time, and it is normal to experience a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and grief. However, long-term stress can impact your health. The added uncertainty surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 is also stressful for many people. Krystal Lewis, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist at NIMH, discussed coping techniques to help people maintain their mental health during the pandemic and when to get professional help. 
  • Identifying New Directions in Mental Health Disparities Research: Innovations with a Multidimensional Lens: On November 9-10, 2020, the NIMH Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity, in collaboration with the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, hosted a virtual disparities workshop , “Identifying New Directions in Mental Health Disparities Research: Innovations with a Multidimensional Lens.” The workshop brought together a diverse group of mental health disparities researchers to highlight and identify innovative approaches to understanding and addressing mental health disparities across major areas of mental health science and research.
  • 2020 NIMH Joint Alliance-Coalition for Research Progress Town Hall: On October 5, 2020, NIMH held a virtual Town Hall to bring together the NIMH Alliance for Research Progress (Alliance) and the NIMH Professional Coalition for Research Progress (Coalition) to discuss the Institute’s research priorities. NIMH Director Dr. Gordon described the Institute’s efforts to increase public access to mental health research and facilitate communication between NIMH, professional societies, and advocacy groups, and responded to questions from Alliance and Coalition members. Participants also heard from NIH scientists about key research initiatives, including the NIH All of Us Research Program , NIH BRAIN Initiative , and NIMH research on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. Highlights from the Town Hall are available on the NIMH website.
  • NIMH Virtual Workshop: Genes to Biology: On September 22, 2020, NIMH hosted a virtual workshop, “Genes to Biology: Integrative Systematic Approaches for Revealing Biological Functions of Psychiatric Risk Genes and Alleles.” The goal of this workshop was to identify opportunities and challenges in developing a research strategy to understand the function of psychiatric risk genes. The workshop was broken into three sessions: “Conceptual Frameworks,” “Understanding Mechanisms,” and “Future Directions and Next Steps.” Leading experts in the fields of genetics and neuroscience shared presentations on key conceptual approaches, high-throughput technologies, scalable assays, and mechanistic and computational inferences. In the last session, the panelists led break-out groups to discuss areas of integration and collaboration in the genes to biology space and how these ideas could move forward.
  • Report Out Session of the HIV-Related Intersectional Stigma Research: Advances and Opportunities Workshop: On September 18, 2020, the NIH Office of AIDS Research and the NIMH Division of AIDS Research hosted its third and final workshop in their series on “HIV-Related Intersectional Stigma Research: Advances and Opportunities.” Representatives from four NIH workgroups, tasked with identifying ways to further HIV prevention and treatment by addressing HIV-related intersectional stigma, presented their findings. Attendees reviewed many research advances and opportunities, including evidence-based interventions designed to reduce intersectional stigma and discrimination. They also discussed ways to integrate and tailor intersectional interventions to advance the goals of the HHS Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE)  initiative and improve HIV prevention and treatment outcomes globally. A post-workshop meeting report and journal supplement are being developed.
  • Social Disconnection in Late-life Suicide Virtual Workshop: On September 17-18, 2020, the NIMH Division of Translational Research hosted a two-day virtual workshop, “Social Disconnection in Late-Life Suicide,” convening clinician scientists, behavioral scientists, neuroscientists, geriatric psychiatrists, epidemiologists, and implementation scientists to discuss the current state of the science on social disconnection and suicide. Workshop topics included mechanisms by which social disconnection confers risk for suicide in older adulthood, potential treatment targets for future intervention development, and opportunities for and obstacles to effective implementation of interventions to address and prevent late-life suicide.

Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Activities

Electronic Grant Application Submission News

  • Institutions Must Submit Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Policy Electronically in eRA Commons: NIH policy previously required institutions to maintain a current, written, enforced policy to identify and manage investigator FCOI and to post the policy on their publicly accessible website. As of November 12, 2020, NIH recipients are now required  to submit their publicly accessible FCOI policy to NIH via the eRA Commons Institution Profile module (NOT-OD-21-002 ).
  • Automated Trainee Diversity Report Required to be Submitted Electronically with Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR) for Specified Training, Career, and Other Grants: Effective October 30, 2020, institutions receiving specified institutional research training grants, institutional career development awards, or research education awards must submit electronically the automated Trainee Diversity Report with their RPPR (NOT-OD-20-178 ). The automated report collects existing electronic demographic data entered by trainees in the Personal Profile of eRA Commons to minimize the need for manual data entry by grantees. For more information, see the related eRA news item  and the Electronic Trainee Diversity Report video tutorial .

NIH-Wide Grant News

  • NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing: Effective January 25, 2023, the new NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing (NOT-OD-21-013 ) will require researchers to plan prospectively for managing and sharing scientific data generated with NIH funds. This policy also establishes the baseline expectation that data sharing is a fundamental component of the research process, which is in line with NIH’s longstanding commitment to making the research it funds available to the public. For additional information, see companion announcements on Elements of an NIH Data Management and Sharing Plan (NOT-OD-21-014 ), Allowable Costs for Data Management and Sharing (NOT-OD-21-015 ), and Selecting a Repository for Data Resulting from NIH-Supported Research (NOT-OD-21-016 ).
  • Notice of Clarification: Policy for Managing Conflict of Interest in NIH Peer Review: NIH provided clarification about the definition of a conflict of interest in peer review in a recent Notice (NOT-OD-21-019 ). Any individual or professional association involved in the preparation of an NIH grant application or contract proposal holds a conflict of interest with any other individual who is listed as having a major professional role on that application or proposal.
  • Extended Guidance for Applicants Preparing Applications During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The purpose of this Notice (NOT-OD-21-026 ) is to extend guidance for individuals preparing applications during the COVID-19 pandemic (previously described in NOT-OD-21-122 ), applicable until further notice. Applicants should not include COVID-related contingency plans in their applications, as peer reviewers will not consider them.
  • Clarification on Prohibition on Expending NIH Grant Funds for Covered Telecommunications Equipment or Services: Effective August 13, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget revised 2 Code of Federal Regulations Part 200 to align with Section 889 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (Public Law 115-232 ). This new section, 2 CFR 200.216, Prohibition on certain telecommunication and video surveillance services or equipment, prohibits Federal award recipients from using government funds to procure or obtain, or enter contracts to procure or obtain equipment, services, or systems that use covered telecommunications equipment or services. On December 11, 2020, NIH published a Notice (NOT-OD-21-041 ) outlining the impact of this new section on grantees.
  • New Process for Requesting Exceptions to Single IRB Review Requirements: NIH issued a Notice (NOT-OD-21-006 ) providing information on how NIH is implementing the Office for Human Research Protections’ (OHRP) determination of Exception to the Single IRB Review Requirements for Certain HHS-Conducted or -Supported Cooperative Research Activities Subject to the 2018 Requirements During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency .

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’s Participation in Continuity of Support Supplements: NIMH has signed on to participate in two administrative supplements designed to enhance the retention of investigators facing critical life events, such as childbirth, adoption, and primary caregiving responsibilities of an ailing spouse, child, partner, or a member of the immediate family. The first supplement is to support the transition and retention of investigators from mentored career development to research independence, and to minimize departures from the biomedical research workforce at this critical juncture (NOT-OD-20-054 ). The other supplement is for investigators transitioning to the first renewal of their first independent research project grant award or to a second new NIH research project grant award (NOT-OD-20-055 ).
  • Stephen I. Katz Early Stage Investigator Research Project Grant: On November 9, 2020, NIH announced a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA), the Stephen I. Katz Early Stage Investigator Research Project Grant (PAR-21-038 ; PAR-20-039 ). NIMH signed on to this FOA, which aims to support projects that represent a change in research direction for an early stage investigator and should be innovative and unique. A distinct feature for this FOA is that applications must not include preliminary data. Applications must include a separate attachment describing the change in research direction.
  • NIH Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Program: The NIH MOSAIC Program aims 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. NIMH is participating in the MOSAIC K99/R00 program to provide independent NIH research support before and after this transition to help awardees launch successful, independent research careers (PAR-19-343  ).
  • 2020 NIH Outstanding Scholars in Neuroscience Award Program (OSNAP): OSNAP, a new trans-NIH initiative supported by NIMH and six other NIH Institutes and Centers, is designed to acknowledge individuals who are conducting exceptional research in neuroscience and have shown great potential in their scientific training. On October 26-27, 2020, NIH recognized the first cohort of 38 early stage talented neuroscience postdoctoral fellows and senior graduate students from academic programs and institutions across the nation.

Director’s Messages

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

  • Showing Support for Basic Researchers (January 11, 2021): Dr. Gordon expresses support for the critical work of NIMH’s Dr. Elisabeth Murray and others who advance neuroscience through basic research.
  • The Lives Lost to COVID-19 (November 24, 2020): Dr. Gordon shares a personal perspective on the importance of remembering the individual lives that have been lost to COVID-19.
  • Accelerating Science to Advance Early Interventions for Schizophrenia (October 30, 2020): Dr. Gordon highlights a new public-private partnership that aims to develop novel treatment approaches that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals at risk for schizophrenia.
  • Addressing the Crisis of Black Youth Suicide (September 22, 2020): In this Director’s Message during National Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Gordon describes NIMH’s efforts to address the rising rates of suicide in the U.S. among Black youth.

Science News

Here is the latest news about NIMH-supported research:

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 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.

Research Highlights

Explore research advances and ongoing research supported by or conducted at NIMH:

These Research Highlights recognize progress the Institute has made across the four Goals of the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research. To see additional Research Highlights, visit our webpage.

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