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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

2022 Autumn Inside NIMH

Inside NIMH Autumn Edition

Welcome

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 invite you to check out the NIMH website for regular updates on timely topics, and to follow me on Twitter (@NIMH Director).

Sincerely,

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 subscribe, unsubscribe, or change your e-mail address, contact the NIMH Webmaster or visit the Inside NIMH subscription page.

Director’s Updates

This summer, NIMH staff have been engaged in many efforts, including hosting virtual meetings and webinars and promoting NIMH initiatives. In this edition of Inside NIMH, we highlight a few Institute activities relevant to Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July) and Suicide Prevention Month (September), as well as some key developments across NIH.

News to Know

  • White House Spotlight on Mental Health: The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is convening a series of virtual conversations on the Nation’s mental health crisis. The series explores what is needed to address the current crisis and highlights promising areas of research. On July 21, 2022, Carlos Zarate, M.D., Chief of the NIMH Intramural Research Programs (IRP) Section on the Neurobiology and Treatment of Mood Disorders and Chief of Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch, joined OSTP staff for a conversation on “How Science has Offered Hope for Treatment-Resistant Depression.” Dr. Zarate discussed ongoing efforts to develop new medications for treatment-resistant depression, as well as the progression from fundamental research to a now-approved treatment. One research participant joined the conversation to provide a first-hand account of their experience.
  • NIMH Celebrates its 2nd James Jackson Memorial Award: In 2021, NIMH launched the James Jackson Memorial Award, named in honor of the late Dr. James Jackson, a renowned social psychologist and member of the NAMHC. Dr. Jackson’s research on race, ethnicity, racism, health, and mental health had far-reaching impacts on the fields of disparities research and minority mental health. The 2022 award recipient is Karen D. Lincoln, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.A., an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California. Dr. Lincoln is a social worker and sociologist with expertise in societal and social determinants of health and well-being among Black Americans. On July 27, 2022, during Minority Mental Health Month, Dr. Lincoln gave a virtual presentation entitled “The Making of a Black Mental Health Scholar: From Humble Beginnings to the Top 2 Percent.” The presentation covered Dr. Lincoln’s career path, including her research on Black American health and well-being across the lifespan.
  • Outreach Spotlight: Over the last few months, NIMH shared resources across its social media platforms to support community mental health education, including a new fact sheet on helping children and adolescents cope with traumatic events during Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) Awareness Month (June). NIMH also hosted a Facebook Live event to share the latest research about the transition to menopause and the occurrence of depressive symptoms. In addition, as part of its back-to-school awareness activities, NIMH hosted a Facebook Live event about the youth mental health crisis. In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Month (September), NIMH promoted brochures, fact sheets, and graphics; highlighted the new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline; and, co-hosted a Facebook Live event with the National Institute on Drug Abuse on the intersection of suicide and substance use.
  • Feelings of Detachment After Trauma May Signal Worse Mental Health Outcomes: After a traumatic experience, some people experience persistent derealization, a type of dissociation that involves feeling detached from people, places, or objects in one’s environment. Persistent derealization may put individuals exposed to trauma at greater risk for mental illnesses and functional impairment. NIMH-supported researchers investigated underlying neural markers of persistent derealization using data from the AURORA study, a large prospective study of post-traumatic psychiatric outcomes. The researchers found that approximately half of study participants reported symptoms of derealization 2 weeks after trauma exposure. Participants who reported derealization symptoms also showed increased activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), a region of the brain involved in emotion regulation. The researchers hypothesize that overactivation of the vmPFC region may disrupt emotion regulation processes and lead to feelings of detachment after trauma.
  • Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Updates: On June 7, 2022, the IACC released the 2020 Summary of Advances in Autism Research. This publication provides short, plain language summaries of the top 20 advances as selected by the IACC in autism spectrum disorder biomedical and services research in 2020. In addition, for the first time, the IACC released an easy-read version that summarizes each of the advances of the full publication in a briefer, more accessible format. On July 13–14, 2022, the IACC held a Strategic Plan Working Group Meeting to discuss research, services, and policy priorities for the 2021–2022 IACC Strategic Plan, which is under development.

Updates and Announcements from HHS and NIH

  • HHS National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health
  • NIH-wide Initiatives
    • Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study®: NIMH is a partner of the ABCD Study®, a longitudinal study that strives to enhance understanding of brain development that influences a young person’s life trajectory. Researchers from the Behavioral Research and Imaging Neurogenetics Lab at Washington University in St. Louis used ABCD data in one of the first studies to examine the association between maternal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications and brain development in young children. The researchers found no association between prenatal exposure to SSRIs and depression later in childhood. The findings suggest that SSRI use during pregnancy is not independently associated with elevated depression during middle childhood (~10 years of age).
    • Accelerating Medicines Partnership® Program - Schizophrenia (AMP® SCZ): On June 6, 2022, researchers involved in the AMP SCZ program began enrolling research study participants. 18 of the 42 study sites have begun enrolling study participants, with additional sites expected to begin recruitment soon. More information can be found on the program’s website, including the goals of the program, answers to frequently asked questions regarding study participation, and information on study sites and partners.
    • All of Us Research Program:
      • Through the All of Us Research Program, health data from nearly 20,000 people who have had SARS-CoV-2 are now available to researchers, opening new opportunities to study COVID-19 disease prevention, progression, and recovery.
      • All of Us issued a new research opportunity announcement soliciting proposals to support outreach, community engagement, and participant enrollment and retention efforts. Awardees will join the national All of Us consortium and help the program connect with diverse communities, including those that have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research. Proposals will be accepted through May 2025.
    • Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative:  On June 21–22, 2022, NIH hosted the 8th Annual BRAIN Initiative Meeting: Open Science, New Tools. The virtual meeting convened more than 2,600 participants, including federally funded scientists, staff, and leadership, as well as nonfederal organizations, researchers interested in joining the BRAIN Initiative community, members of the media, and the public. The event included plenary talks, poster sessions, and attendee-organized symposia. Meeting facilitators presented 30 awards to trainees piloting innovation in the neuroscience and neuroethics fields. In addition, winners of the BRAIN Initiative Challenge, an essay and video competition for high school students to discuss the ethical implications of emerging brain research interventions and technologies, were invited to the meeting to be recognized for their achievements and to summarize their winning topics.
    • NIH Common Fund: The NIH Common Fund is soliciting ideas for potential new scientific programs that may be supported in fiscal year (FY) 2025 or beyond. The Common Fund supports bold scientific programs that catalyze discovery across biomedical and behavioral research. Responses are due September 30, 2022.
    • UNITE Initiative: The NIH-wide UNITE initiative strives to reduce barriers and provide solutions to creating racial equity in the biomedical research workforce. At the June 10, 2022, Advisory Committee to the Director meeting, UNITE leadership and committee members provided an update on UNITE’s progress and projected activities, including forthcoming Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Research Grants. The concept for the planned grant program, which was approved by the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, would support researchers who have demonstrated excellence in promoting DEIA in biomedical research. Grants aim to provide support for investigators’ research programs and continuing DEIA efforts.
  • NIH in the Spotlight
    • On June 22, 2022, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine, M.D., visited the NIH campus. Admiral Levine toured the Clinical Center and met with NIH leadership to discuss the ongoing Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) initiative. As part of her visit, she provided opening remarks for a panel discussion titled “Together Towards Discovery: How Our Intersecting LGBTQIA+ Identities Impact Our NIH Work,” and concluded the day by meeting with officers of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps at NIH.
  • NIH Leadership News
    • On September 12, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden announced his intention to appoint Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D., as the inaugural director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), an independent entity within the NIH. Dr. Wegrzyn, a scientist with professional experience working for two of the institutions that inspired the creation of ARPA-H – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) – will be responsible for driving the agency’s research portfolio and associated budget. The budget is expected to support a broad range of programs in order to develop capabilities to prevent, detect, and treat some of the most intractable diseases, including cancer.
    • On August 22, 2022, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., announced that he will be stepping down as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, and Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden after 54 years of service. Dr. Fauci has been the Director of NIAID for 38 years, overseeing an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established and emerging infectious diseases. Dr. Fauci has advised seven Presidents of the United States on domestic and global health issues, including HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus, anthrax attacks, pandemic influenza, various bird influenza threats, Ebola, and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he is leaving federal service in December 2022, Dr. Fauci plans to continue advancing science and public health and mentoring the next generation of scientific leaders.
    • On August 10, 2022, President Biden announced his intention to appoint Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., as the 16th Director—and first female Director— of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Bertagnolli is currently the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery in the field of surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School, as well as a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Throughout her career, Dr. Bertagnolli has been at the forefront of the field of clinical oncology, advancing, in particular, current understanding of the gene that promotes gastrointestinal cancer development. Her decades of clinical and leadership experience will be applied to advancing NCI initiatives, including spearheading the President’s Cancer MoonshotSM initiative. Doug Lowy, M.D., had served as the Acting Director of NCI while the President searched a permanent Director, and will resume his position as NCI Deputy Director.
    • On July 14, 2022, NIH announced the appointment of Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D., as the NIH Acting Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) in the NIH Office of the Director. As Acting DDIR, Dr. Schor will be responsible for the selection and approval of new NIH principal investigators, human subjects research protection, research integrity, technology transfer, and animal care and use for the IRP. She will also oversee efforts to train the next generation of biomedical and behavioral researchers at NIH, as well as efforts to foster a diverse and inclusive culture across the IRP. Dr. Schor will replace Michael M. Gottesman, M.D., who served as NIH DDIR for 29 years.
    • On June 23, 2022, NIH announced the retirement of James M. Anderson, M.D., Director of the NIH Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). Dr. Anderson served as DPCPSI Director for almost 12 years, where he oversaw numerous NIH-wide initiatives, including high-impact NIH Common Fund programs. Dr. Anderson led the development of new approaches for portfolio analysis, helped establish the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis, and provided NIH-wide leadership in data science. On July 1, 2022, Robert W. Eisinger, Ph.D., returned to NIH to serve as the Acting Director of DPCPSI while NIH searches for a permanent Director.
    • On June 15, 2022, NIH named Kevin D. Williams, J.D., as Director of the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). As EDI Director, he will guide the strategic direction for NIH on DEIA matters and will serve as the NIH Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Officer. Mr. Williams has more than 20 years of experience working on EDI policies and efforts, EEO law and compliance programs, and culture change initiatives within the federal government. He replaced Debra C. Chew, J.D., who left NIH in September 2020.

Budget Overview

  • FY 2022 Budget: The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (Public Law No. 117-103) provides funds through September 30, 2022. The law provides $2.2 billion to NIMH (amount includes 21st Century Cures Act funding), representing a five percent increase over the FY 2021 appropriation. NIMH anticipates awarding approximately 650 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2022, 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 96 unique early stage investigators (ESIs) and 208 unique at-risk investigators.
     
    NIMH Applications, Awards, and Success Rates for Research Project Grants
    Fiscal Year Applications Direct Awards Cures Awards Success Rate
    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
    2021 2923 642 5 22
    2022 (estimated) 2834 682 10 24
  • Outlook for FY 2023: FY 2023 may 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. On June 30, 2022, the House Appropriations Committee advanced H.R. 8295 to fund the FY 2023 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Service, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations. The bill would provide $2.4 billion to NIMH, an increase of $211 million (or 9.6 percent) from the FY 2022 appropriated level including 21st Century Cures funding. On July 28, 2022, the Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 FY 2023 Appropriations bills. Within the Senate LHHS bill, NIMH would receive $2.3 billion, an increase of $116 million (or 5.2 percent) from the FY 2022 appropriated level including 21st Century Cures funding.

NIMH Staff News

  • New Staff
    • Christina P.C. Borba, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined NIMH as Director of the Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity (ODWD). Lauren Hill, Ph.D., had been serving as Acting Director and will continue to work in ODWD as Acting Deputy Director.
    • Tonya J. H. White, M.D., Ph.D., joined the NIMH IRP as a Senior Investigator leading the Section on Social and Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience. Dr. White uses techniques such as neuroimaging to understand the origin of mental, neurological, and developmental disorders in pediatric populations, with a focus on autism spectrum disorder.
    • Christopher M. Bartley, M.D., Ph.D., joined the NIMH IRP as a Tenure Track Investigator leading the Translational Immunopsychiatry Unit. Dr. Bartley studies autoimmune brain disorders in adults, aiming to gain mechanistic and therapeutic insights into psychosis.
  • Staff Retirements
    • Miles Herkenham, Ph.D., Senior Investigator and Chief of the NIMH IRP Section on Functional Neuroanatomy, retired from federal service on July 1, 2022. Over the course of Dr. Herkenham’s 45-year career in the IRP, he helped to pioneer many novel techniques, including the development of in vitro receptor autoradiography and in situ hybridization histochemistry (ISHH), both radioactive localization techniques. ISHH provided much of the information for the Allen Brain Map, a publicly available database that can be used to localize molecules in the brain. Using these techniques, Dr. Herkenham and collaborators localized the brain’s cannabinoid receptor, which kick-started the field of cannabinoid research. Dr. Herkenham’s research also explored inflammatory immune processes and the blood brain barrier in relation to stress.
    • W. Scott Young, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of the NIMH IRP Section on Neural Gene Expression (SNGE), retired from federal service on July 31, 2022, after 38 years. Dr. Young’s early career research achievements include developing in vitro receptor autoradiography, a technique that enabled researchers to map receptors’ distributions in the brains of humans and other species. This method has now been widely used to increase the understanding of neuroanatomy. From 1986 to the mid-1990s, under Dr. Young’s leadership, the SNGE applied and improved ISHH techniques to map gene expression. In recent years, SNGE has expanded to study the roles of oxytocin and vasopressin (neuropeptides that are expressed in the hypothalamus of the brain), and to examine the role of the CA2 region of the hippocampus in social memory and aggression. Dr. Young was recognized as an outstanding mentor, training dozens of young scientists over the years.

Director’s Highlights: NIMH Scientists and Science

Grantee Awards

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

  • Election to the National Academy of Sciences (Academy) is one of the highest honors in the scientific field. In May 2022, the following NIMH grantees were elected to the Academy:
    • Elizabeth A. Buffalo, Ph.D. (University of Washington)
    • Helen S. Mayberg, M.D. (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)
  • 2022 Colvin Prizewinner for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
    • J. John Mann, M.D. (Columbia University; New York State Psychiatric Institute)
  • 2022 Freedman Prize for Exceptional Basic Research, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
    • Antonio Fernandez-Ruiz, Ph.D. (Cornell University)
  • 2022 Lieber Prizewinner for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
    • Robert Schwarcz, Ph.D. (University of Maryland School of Medicine)
  • 2022 Neuroscience Prize, Gruber Foundation
    • Larry Abbott, Ph.D. (Columbia University)
    • Emery Neal Brown, M.D., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    • Terrence Sejnowski, Ph.D. (Salk Institute for Biological Studies)
  • Freedman Prize for Exceptional Basic Research, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
    • Antonio Fernandez-Ruiz, Ph.D. (Cornell University)
  • Lifetime Achievement Research Award, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
    • David Brent, M.D. (University of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh)
  • Peter Seeburg Integrative Neuroscience Prize, Society for Neuroscience
    • Robert Malenka, M.D., Ph.D. (Stanford University)

Notable NIMH Grants

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

  • Inductive bias refers to the ability to generalize information and observations learned from a small set of prior observations across other tasks and conditions and apply it in novel contexts. It also represents an essential operation in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms for efficient learning. With support from the NIMH Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, John Murray, Ph.D. (Yale University), seeks to study the neural and computational basis of inductive bias. To understand how the brain implements and adjusts inductive bias, Dr. Murray plans to train non-human primates to perform a novel learning task, characterize choice behavior and neuronal activity during task completion, and develop computational models of learning in neural networks. Results from this research may inform new computational models of learning, as well as approaches to study neural dysfunction in learning processes.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the health and well-being of the nation and disproportionately worsened existing health disparities. The pandemic combined with adverse systemic conditions, such as poverty and structural racism, can impact maternal mental health and consequently, neonatal development and infant/early child mental health. With support from the NIMH Division of Translational Research, Wanjiku Njoroge, M.D. (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), plans to leverage an existing cohort study to identify Black and non-Latinx White women who were pregnant at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and reported high levels of COVID-19-related worry, and then seeks to examine how racism and other stressful conditions may differentially affect maternal health and parenting practice in Black women, thereby impacting their children's neurodevelopmental outcomes. Using a battery of questionnaires, clinical psychiatric interviews, and behavioral observation, the researchers seek to identify resilience factors and uncover cross-cultural differences that may exist postpartum between the experiences of Black and non-Latinx White women. The researchers also plan to observe the children at ages 24 and 48 months to assess how their environment, including parental interactions and their mothers’ mental health status, contribute to their development and well-being. This research may inform mechanisms for culturally informed intervention development to advance health equity across the lifespan.
  • Community college students report rates of depression and anxiety that exceed those of students at four-year institutions, yet community colleges have fewer mental health resources available than their counterparts at four-year institutions. As part of the NIMH Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) Research Center program and with support from the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research, Michelle Craske, Ph.D., and Kate Wolitzky-Taylor, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles), aim to evaluate a scalable, efficient, and evidence-based health intervention delivery model, STAND, for screening, tracking, and treating anxiety and depression in a low income, diverse, and often underserved sample of students at East Los Angeles Community College. STAND uses a stratified stepped care model, ranging from self-guided online cognitive behavioral assessments, to online-based cognitive behavioral therapy with coaching, to clinician-delivered care. The researchers seek to change the way mental health interventions are delivered in community college settings by optimizing available resources and personalizing interventions to meet each student’s individual needs. This research offers an opportunity to drive a paradigm shift in how student mental health concerns are identified and addressed within community college settings.
  • Current antiretroviral therapy for HIV does not completely remove the virus from the nervous systems of people with HIV. HIV can lie dormant within brain reservoirs for many years, where it can integrate into the genome of the host’s cells. As a result, HIV can continue to produce viral proteins and damage brain cells. An essential consideration for targeting this reservoir is to use therapies that can penetrate the blood brain barrier (BBB). With support from the NIMH Division of AIDS Research, Paula M. Cannon, Ph.D. (University of Southern California), aims to apply gene editing technology to human B cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight viruses), to modify these cells to efficiently cross the BBB and to produce specific antibodies that block the replication of HIV. Dr. Cannon plans to evaluate whether the antibodies expressed by these modified B cells retain full anti-HIV properties and show enhanced delivery to the brain. This research offers promise to generate new knowledge for immunotherapy treatments that target HIV reservoirs in the brain.

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

Featured Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) and Initiatives

NIH electronically posts in the NIH Guide a listing of all NIH FOAs, including program announcements and requests for applications, as well as important notices for the scientific community. Below is a description of some types of FOAs and Notices, as well as 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 new or ongoing extramural activities or programs. 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 modifications to an activity or program, and/or invite applications for grant support.

Featured PAs, PARs, or PASs:

  • Engineering Next-Generation Human Nervous System Microphysiological Systems (PAR-20-055, PAR-20-082)
  • Novel Assays to Address Translational Gaps in Treatment Development (PAR-22-169)
  • Building in vivo Preclinical Assays of Circuit Engagement for Application in Therapeutic Development (PAR-22-170)
  • NIDA, NIMH, NINR, and NINDS Research Opportunities for New and "At-Risk" Investigators to Promote Workforce Diversity (PAR-22-181)
  • HEAL Initiative: Career Development Awards in Implementation Science for Substance Use Prevention and Treatment (PAS-22-206, PAS-22-207)

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 NOSIs:

  • Innovative Technologies for Research on Climate Change and Human Health (NOT-ES-22-009, NOT-ES-22-010)
  • Increasing Uptake of Evidence-Based Screening in Diverse Populations Across the Lifespan (NOT-OD-22-178)
  • Addressing Evidence Gaps in Screening (NOT-OD-22-179)

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 in a given fiscal year. Applications in response to RFAs are reviewed using FOA-specific peer review criteria, which usually includes review by a Scientific Review Group specially convened by the awarding component that issued the RFA.

Featured RFAs:

  • Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence (RFA-HD-23-035, RFA-HD-23-036, RFA-HD-23-037)
  • NIMH Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (NIMH BRAINS) (RFA-MH-22-185)
  • Expanding Collaborative Implementation Science to Address Social and Structural Determinants of Health and Improve HIV Outcomes (RFA-MH-22-190, RFA-MH-22-191)
  • BRAIN Initiative: Brain Behavior Quantification and Synchronization (RFA-MH-22-240)
  • BRAIN Initiative: Engineering and Optimization of Molecular Technologies for Functional Dissection of Neural Circuits (RFA-MH-22-245)
  • Epigenetic Mechanisms Regulating HIV CNS Latency and Neuropathogenesis Using Novel Single Cell Technologies (RFA-MH-22-280, RFA-MH-22-281)

Notices

NIH periodically issues Notices to update or clarify policies. For example, NIH uses Notices to solicit information from the extramural 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). For the most up-to-date list of NIH and NIMH-issued notices, visit the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts website.

Featured Notices:

  • Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS): Coordination Center (NOT-RM-23-002)
  • Notice of Upcoming Prize Competition Announcement for the RADx® Tech for Maternal Health Challenge (NOT-HD-22-035)
  • Notice of Information: High Priority Countries for the Center for Global Mental Health Research (NOT-MH-22-235)
  • Notice of Information on High Priority Research Areas for Sex and Gender Influences on the Adolescent Brain and Mental Health of Girls and Young Women (Ages 12-24) (NOT-MH-22-245)
  • Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for BRAIN Initiative: Engineering and Optimization of Molecular Technologies for Functional Dissection of Neural Circuits (NOT-MH-22-265)
  • Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Clinical Studies of Mental Illness (NOT-MH-22-280)

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 COVID-19-related updates.

Future Research Directions

Concept Clearances for Potential New Research Initiatives

This list of concept clearances offers the earliest possible alert to the field of our research interests and potential upcoming funding announcements. 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 NIMHinitiatives@mail.nih.gov.

NIMH-sponsored Meetings

  • The Intersection of Suicide and Substance Use: On September 15, 2022, in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Month, NIMH and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) co-hosted a Facebook Live event on co-occurring mental disorders and substance use. Dr. Gordon and Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director of NIDA, led a discussion on common risk factors, populations at elevated risk, suicides by drug overdose, treatments, prevention, and resources for finding help. Drs. Gordon and Volkow also answered questions from participants.
  • Examining the Underlying Mechanisms of Violent Deaths Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Populations: On September 13, 2022, the NIMH Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity (ODWD) hosted a webinar on methods and measures to enhance data collection efforts on violent deaths – including suicide and homicide – among LGBTQ populations. Researchers discussed the efforts to collect sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data postmortem when there is a violent death and ways to improve surveillance and electronic medical record systems for SOGI data collection, use, and quality. Improved SOGI data collection can help researchers better estimate the number of LGBTQ individuals who die by suicide and may inform prevention and intervention efforts.
  • The Youth Mental Health Crisis: On August 11, 2022, NIMH Deputy Director Shelli Avenevoli, Ph.D., conducted a Facebook Live event to discuss the nation’s youth mental health crisis. The event covered topics such as the alarming rate of youth suicide, the effects of technology and the pandemic on the developing brain, and what the research says about supporting the mental health of current and future generations of youth. Dr. Avenevoli answered questions from participants, including how to prepare teens to manage stressors that come with the transition to adulthood and how to help adolescents manage sleep disturbances.
  • Mental Health Services Research (MHSR) Conference: The MHSR field aims to improve access, continuity, quality, equity, and value of mental health care. On August 2–3, 2022, the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research hosted the 25th MHSR conference: Transforming Challenges Into New Opportunities. Participants from more than 91 countries included mental health services researchers; clinicians; federal, state, and local stakeholders; mental health advocates; and people living with mental illnesses. Presenters highlighted research findings and discussed service gaps for people with mental illnesses. In addition, a group of selected early stage investigators attended the new investigator workshop on August 4, 2022.
  • Training Mechanisms for Early Career Scientists in Global Mental Health Research at NIH: On July 26, 2022, the NIMH Center for Global Mental Health Research hosted a webinar for early career scientists in global mental health research. Attendees learned about career development awards, including different types of K awards from NIMH and the Fogarty International Center, as well as other funding opportunities, such as diversity supplements. In addition, currently funded early career scientists shared their insights and advice with participants. This event was part of a series of webinars designed to increase scientists’ knowledge about the NIH structure and grant processes to enhance capacity in global mental health research.
  • Innovations in Social Determinants of Health: Applying the Structural Competency Framework to Mental Health Care and Mental Health Care Research: On June 27, 2022, the NIMH ODWD hosted a webinar to provide an overview of the structural competency framework. Structural competency is an educational framework for training health professionals to recognize and respond to social structures, such as laws, policies, institutions, and systems, that contribute to inequities in disease outcomes. Experts discussed recent literature applying the framework in mental health care and reflected on how the framework might extend to research.
  • The Menopause Transition and Depression: On June 23, 2022, the NIMH Intramural Research Programs (IRP) hosted a Facebook Live event on the transition to menopause and the occurrence of depressive symptoms, featuring Peter Schmidt, M.D., Chief of the NIMH IRP Section on Behavioral Endocrinology, and two members of his lab, Sarah Rudzinskas, Ph.D., and Sarah Spector, M.S.N., FNP-C. The group discussed the signs, symptoms, treatments, and latest research on perimenopausal depression. In addition, they answered questions submitted from the public on estrogen therapy, suicide risk during the menopause transition, and how loved ones can provide support during this time.
  • Improving Treatments for Mood Disorders and Depressive Symptoms in Women During Mid and Later Life: On June 21, 2022, the NIMH ODWD hosted a webinar on the neurobiology of depression and mood disorders during the transition to menopause and later life. Presenters shared research findings on the influence of stressful life events and medications to treat depressive symptoms, the significance of circadian rhythm and sleep changes, and treatment strategies with sleep and light interventions. In addition, presenters discussed ongoing research on the underlying biobehavioral mechanisms that may increase depression and other mood disorders during the transition to menopause, focusing on improved treatment and prevention of mental illnesses in women.
  • NIMH Workshop on PET-MRI: On June 15, 2022, the NIMH IRP Center for Multimodal Neuroimaging hosted a workshop on the latest developments, opportunities, and future directions in using combined PET-MRI (positron emission tomography-magnetic resonance imaging) for neuroimaging. The workshop was divided into two sections: 1) individual lectures showcasing the use of combined PET-MRI neuroimaging with a particular focus on either theoretical insights or methodological advances and 2) an open panel on the future of PET-MRI neuroimaging and identifying the necessary steps or evolution of data collection, analysis, and interpretation for the future of neuroscience research.

Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Activities

Electronic Grant Application Submission News

  • Required Use of “FORMS-H” Applications Forms for Application Submission: Applicants are required to submit grant applications using FORMS-H for due dates on or after January 25, 2023 (NOT-OD-22-195). As part of the implementation of the 2023 NIH Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Policy, a new “Other Plan(s)” attachment field has been added to the PHS 398 Research Plan Form and the PHS 398 Career Development Award Supplemental Form. Applicants must attach the required DMS Plan in this new field in FORMS-H applications.
  • eRA Retirement of All Application Form Versions Prior to FORMS-E: Effective August 31, 2022, application form versions prior to FORMS-E are no longer supported (NOT-OD-22-182).
  • Scheduled Application System Downtime: Due to a planned Grants.gov production system outage from Friday, September 23, 2022 to September 29, 2022, NIH and AHRQ applications with due dates that fall on or between these dates will move to October 3, 2022 (NOT-OD-22-190).

NIH-wide Grant News

  • Announcing the 2023 NIH DMS Policy: NIH announced a new DMS Policy for applications for receipt dates on and after January 25, 2023 (NOT-OD-21-013). The DMS Policy establishes the foundation for NIH’s data management and sharing expectations, which NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices and programs may build upon to meet their programmatic needs (e.g., designated repositories, specific data collection standards). The policy applies to all NIH-supported research that results in the generation of scientific data, regardless of funding mechanism. Please review the DMS implementation details (NOT-OD-22-189) and visit the Data Management & Sharing Policy Overview page for additional information on what is expected of investigators and institutions.
  • DMS Plans Webpage: NIH plans to release an optional format page to assist investigators in developing DMS Plans. A preview draft of this DMS Plan Format Page is now publicly available to reference.

For more information on all of these updates, please see the NIH eRA News 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 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:

Director’s Messages

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

  • Suicide Prevention Research in a Rapidly Changing World (September 13, 2022): In this Director’s message, Dr. Gordon discusses what we have learned about suicide risk and prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic and how NIMH has been building upon these findings to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.
  • Addressing HIV-related Intersectional Stigma and Discrimination (July 28, 2022): In this jointly written Director’s Message, Dr. Gordon and Dr. Maureen Goodenow, Associate Director for AIDS Research and Director of the Office of AIDS Research at the NIH, discuss the importance of addressing intersectional stigma in the context of HIV prevention, treatment, and care.
  • Bringing Innovation to the Search for Biomarkers (June 29, 2022): In this Director’s Message, Dr. Gordon highlights research supported by the NIMH Small Business Innovation Research program that could advance the development of clinically relevant biomarkers.

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 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.

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.

Connect with NIMH

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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.