Dear colleagues:

I am delighted to share with you Inside NIMH, a new electronic newsletter which the NIMH will publish three times each year following meetings of the National Advisory Mental Health Council. This e-newsletter (see below) will provide the latest news on funding opportunities and policies at NIMH. Future issues will highlight research breakthroughs, new tools for mental health research, and public education efforts.

This premier edition of Inside NIMH is being sent to grantees and other interested groups who we believe will benefit from learning more about NIMH-supported resources, research, and funding opportunities. If you wish to unsubscribe, subscribe, or change your e-mail address, please contact the NIMH Webmaster.

We hope you will find this e-newsletter informative.


Thomas R. Insel, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Mental Health

Inside NIMH: Funding News for Current and Future NIMH Awardees

I. Introduction to Inside NIMH

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Inside NIMH, a newsletter for providing research funding information for NIMH awardees. As the major source of funding for mental health research, the Institute is constantly seeking ways to improve communication with the research community about the latest funding opportunities, priorities, and future directions. We will publish Inside NIMH three times a year to provide concise and up-to-date information on:

  • Extramural budget and funding
  • New announcements about funding opportunities
  • Future research directions, summarized by:
    • Recently cleared concepts for research initiatives
    • NIMH-sponsored workshops and meetings
  • Updates on electronic grants and application submission
  • Recent NIMH news releases

If you have questions or suggestions for topics that you would like to see in Inside NIMH, please contact the NIMH Webmaster.

II. Message from the NIMH Director: NIMH Budget & Funding

The fiscal year (FY) 2006 NIH budget has been a topic of discussion and, for some, concern in the research community. I am writing today to help clarify the budgetary facts and strategies for NIMH at this time. (The NIH website has additional information about the overall NIH budget.)

The most important message about this year's NIMH research budget is we are paying new grants and paying our non-competing continuation awards. In FY 2006, we estimate that NIMH will fund approximately 550 new research project grants (RPGs*). This, in combination with new competing awards in other research grants, centers, and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) / Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), as well as the non-competing continuation awards in these areas, will result in our funding more than 2,900 extramural research awards in FY 2006. Although this represents a 1.8 percent decrease in comparison to FY 2005, it is 47.2 percent greater than the number of awards made in 1998, the year prior to the initiation of the doubling of the NIH budget.

Why haven't we doubled the number of grants if the budget has doubled? The average cost of a grant has increased over 40 percent during this period, limiting the number of grants that we can fund.

How will we make funding decisions during these times of budgetary constraint? NIMH has developed a funding strategy with several key components:

  1. NIMH intends to support applications by priority score as follows: (a) in priority order through the 10th percentile; and (b) at least half of those between the 10th and 20th percentile based on Institute priorities. The National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) and NIMH program staff may selectively recommend the payment of grants out of priority score order based on Institute priorities and to maintain a diverse and balanced portfolio. The NIMH website has additional details on NIMH research priorities.
  2. NIMH will follow NIH policy and reduce non-competing continuation awards by adjusting the FY 2006 award and future year support to 97.65 percent (see NIH GUIDE Notice NOT-OD-06-025).
  3. NIMH will continue our commitment to consider newly independent investigators' status as a priority when making funding decisions, especially in the 10th to 20th percentile range.
  4. NIMH will continue to invest significant funds to train investigators in areas highly relevant to the Institute's mission. However, given the lower rates of growth in the overall research budget, NIMH will strategically decrease the percentage of the budget invested in training over the next few years from roughly 10 percent to about 8.6 percent, a level well above the NIH average. The NIMH website has additional details about funding in research training.

Implementation of this funding strategy is firmly grounded in the strategic plans and priorities that have evolved through input from our various stakeholders and Council workgroups. Each extramural Division has developed areas of high priority and posted these on the NIMH website. Overall, our highest priorities are on:

  • Supporting basic science discoveries;
  • Translating these discoveries into new interventions that will relieve the suffering of people with mental disorders;
  • Ensuring that new approaches can be used for diverse populations and in diverse settings; and
  • Supporting innovation — NIMH is using the High Priority, Short-Term Project Award (R56) mechanism to fund highly meritorious and innovative applications that miss the payline as competing awards. The R56 Award provides up to two years of interim funding while the applicant gathers additional data needed to revise an application. In FY 2006, NIMH anticipates paying up to nine R56 awards.

This is a time of great scientific excitement in mental health. Discoveries in basic science are leading to new, more effective treatments, and ultimately the possibilities of preventing and curing mental illnesses. Through sound funding strategies and priority setting, NIMH will continue to support research and research training that is innovative, relevant, and has the capacity for making rapid progress for improving the lives of millions struggling with the disability, pain, and torment of mental and behavioral disorders.

Thomas R. Insel, M.D.
Director, NIMH

*RPGs include the following grant mechanisms: P01, P42, R01, R03, R15, R21, R29, R33, R34, R35, R36, R37, R41, R42, R43, R44, R55, R56, U01, U19, U43, U44.

III. New Announcements about Funding Opportunities

Each week, NIH electronically distributes the NIH GUIDE, a listing of all NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), which include requests for applications (RFAs), program announcements (PAs), and important notices for the scientific community. Below are samples of FOAs in which NIMH is participating. The Research and Funding page on the NIMH website has links to listings of all NIMH FOAs and other resources.

Note: You can subscribe to regular weekly e-mails of the NIH GUIDE.

NIMH-Administered RFAs

Implicating Noncoding RNAs in the Genetics of Mental Disorders

NIMH is seeking applications for research that characterizes the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) and other noncoding RNAs in the etiology of mental disorders. The data generated by this effort will contribute to the disaggregation of the molecular machinery underlying mental disorders by integrating sequence specific modulators of post-transcriptional gene expression into a theoretical framework of disease pathophysiology.

Release Date: May 11, 2006; Expiration Date: July 22, 2006

Collaborative RFAs

Global Partnerships for Social Science AIDS Research

NIMH, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) are calling for partnerships between U.S. (or other developed country) and non-U.S. scientists that will enhance capabilities for rigorous behavioral and social science research in developing countries affected by the HIV epidemic. Investigators undertaking research in response to this RFA should be mindful of the efforts in their country to develop and implement strategic plans on the national and community levels to address local HIV/AIDS-related challenges and problems.

Release Date: April 13, 2006; Expiration Date: December 14, 2006

Specialized Centers of Interdisciplinary Research on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women's Health

The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH), which serves as a focal point for women's health research at the NIH, and cosponsors are aiming to promote interdisciplinary research in sex/gender factors through these centers. The ORWH has published An Agenda for Research on Women's Health for the 21st Century that provides an outline of research needs identified through national taskforces. This ORWH website also provides the FY 2006 research priorities identified by the Institutes and Centers (PDF file).

Release Date: June 12, 2006; Expiration Date: September 15, 2006

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health

The ORWH and its cosponsors are inviting institutional career development award applications for Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) Career Development Programs. These Programs will support mentored research career development of junior faculty members who have recently completed clinical training or postdoctoral fellowships and who will be engaged in interdisciplinary basic, translational, behavioral, clinical, or health services research relevant to women's health or sex/gender factors. The goal of this initiative is to increase the number and skills of investigators through a mentored research and career development experience leading to an independent scientific career that will benefit the health of women.

Release Date: June 13, 2006; Expiration Date: September 15, 2006

Novel HIV Therapies: Integrated Preclinical/Clinical Program

This is a re-issuance with modifications of PAR-03-138. The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and NIMH are seeking to assist researchers interested in HIV therapeutics development to assemble the diverse scientific expertise and resources needed to translate basic laboratory discoveries to applied entities. In the preclinical area, this RFA seeks research on: (1) the development/validation of new therapeutic targets; and (2) the development and evaluation of small-molecule inhibitors of viral or cellular proteins or pathways critical to HIV replication and/or persistence. In the clinical area, the focus is on iterative bench-to-bedside research to optimize new therapeutic approaches.

Release Date: March 1, 2006; Expiration Date: June 24, 2006

NIMH Program Announcements

Since the beginning of February 2006, NIMH has published over 50 program announcements highlighting areas of research interest, which span topics in genetics, basic neuroscience, behavioral science, translational research, interventions, and mental health services research. The NIMH website has a full listing of these program announcements.

NIH Roadmap Initiatives

The NIH Roadmap is a set of progressive initiatives that seek to transform all of biomedical research and accelerate its discoveries. All NIH Institutes, including NIMH, participate in the Roadmap, and funding opportunities are open to all investigators.

NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Initiatives

The Neuroscience Blueprint is a framework to enhance cooperative activities among 15 NIH Institutes and Centers that support research on the nervous system. The Blueprint aims to develop research tools, resources, and training and to make them available to the neuroscience community.

IV. Future Research Directions

National Advisory Mental Health Council 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.

Concept Clearances from the Most Recent NAMHC Meeting

Related Information

Summaries of NIMH-Sponsored Scientific Meetings

Research workshops and scientific meetings are some of the best forums in which to identify research gaps and to stimulate new areas of mental health research. Below are brief descriptions of meetings that NIMH has sponsored over the past six months. You should send questions about a specific meeting to the program contact in its description.

V. Update on Electronic Submission of Grant Applications

Much progress has been made since December 2005 — when NIH began conversion to the electronic submission process of applications via the SF 424 (Research and Related) forms. As of June 1, the following applications must be submitted through the electronic system:

  • Small Business and Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR)
  • Conference Grant (R13/U13)
  • Dissertation Grant Program (R36)
  • Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA, R15)
  • Biomedical Research Support Shared Instrumentation Grant (S10)
  • Small Grant (R03)
  • Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21)
  • Clinical Trial Planning (Clinical Exploratory/Developmental for NIMH, R34)

The NIH website has a conversion schedule for all grant applications.

Additionally, three major changes in the grant application process were recently announced:

  1. The conversion of R01s to electronic submission has been delayed to February 1, 2007 (a change from October 1, 2006).
  2. The electronic submission deadline time has changed to 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization) on the submission date listed in the announcement.
  3. As of May 10, 2006, NIH no longer requires the verification of grant applications by the institutional signing official and the Project Director (PD) / Principal Investigator (PI). The previously required verification step is now replaced by a two-business-day period for checking the assembled application in the eRA Commons, after which the submission process is complete and automatically accepted. The two-day period will allow PDs/PIs and their institutional official to reject an application and then submit a corrected one, if needed. The NIH website has further details.

Related Information

The Electronic Application Process Web page provides step-by-step instruction on the entire process.

More information about electronic submission is just a website away. NIH has posted a helpful list of "common errors" to avoid when submitting your first electronic application.

If you have questions about the process, the NIH website also has a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that contains useful information.

VI. Recent NIMH News Releases

Please help us spread the word about the results of NIMH funding by acknowledging our support of your research, for example, in journal articles (citing your NIMH award by number when possible) and other communications. NIMH has two primary methods of getting the word out:

  • Press releases — promoted through distribution to major media; also posted on the NIMH website
  • Science updates — highlights of new findings; posted on the NIMH website

These are all also distributed to the public through the NIMH Listserv, which now has more than 20,000 subscribers.

If you have a manuscript accepted for publication that describes an especially significant finding, please contact your NIMH program director to discuss the possibility of a news release or other forms of dissemination.