Welcome to the fall 2006 edition of Inside NIMH. This edition marks the beginning of a new Federal fiscal year (FY) and, as such, provides a good opportunity to review NIMH priorities and the outlook for funding.

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

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Inside NIMH: Funding News for Current and Future NIMH Awardees

I. Message from the NIMH Director

NIMH strives to support innovative research that will profoundly transform the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. The recognition that mental disorders are brain disorders means that progress toward this vision requires a deeper understanding of the brain and behavior. Our commitment to basic science has never been greater. Along with the rest of NIH, we are also committed to translating the discoveries from basic science to clinical practice. Our clinical research vision focuses on the four P's of medical research: developing interventions that are predictive, pre-emptive, personalized, and participatory. The need for transformative, innovative research is urgent; each year, one in every 20 adults in the US experiences a disabling mental illness, while nearly one in 10 experience a serious emotional disorder during childhood.

The timing for making significant and profound advances in mental health research could not be better. Scientific discoveries in genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral science are providing the foundation from which to develop new and more effective methods to detect, treat, and prevent brain illnesses. NIMH research topics and investigators are competitively taking center stage in exciting public-private collaborations to advance whole genome association studies as well as establishing biomarkers for detecting and monitoring mental disease in the brain. These public-private initiatives offer translational opportunities for developing more effective interventions and treatment options to deliver more effective personalized care across diverse populations and settings. Complementing these discoveries, NIMH will continue innovative research to test and improve available treatments in real world settings to better address practical and current clinical questions about comparative effectiveness, cost, and streamlining pathways for dissemination and implementation of mental health services across diverse populations and settings.


Although our fiscal year started on October 1, we do not yet have a congressionally approved budget for the new year. Congress has passed a continuing resolution, which means that we are operating at the funding level of 2006 until a new budget is approved. That said, we expect to meet or exceed the 494 new research grants funded in FY 2006. How can we expect to make this many new grant awards during this time of fiscal restraint? The funds available depend, in part, on funds freed up from the turnover of past grants. Roughly 70 percent of NIMH grant funding goes to the non-competing out-years of multi-year grants. As the grants first funded in 2001 and 2002 are now coming to completion, these funds become available for supporting new grants in 2007. Thus, even in a year when there could be a decrease in our overall budget, the relative amount of funds for new grants may be greater.

In general, NIMH intends to support up to three-fourths of new and competing research applications that fall below the 20th percentile. Council and program staff may selectively recommend payment of grants that fall in this range, as well as beyond, based on: 1) Institute and division priorities; 2) balance in the existing research portfolio; and 3) availability of funds. In addition, NIMH considers newly independent investigator status as a priority in funding decisions. This means that a research grant from new investigator may be funded out of order and at percentile scores the same or higher than grants not selected for payment from established investigators.

In the area of research training, NIMH will continue to follow the funding policy from last year. NIMH will strategically decrease the percentage of the NIMH budget invested in research training from roughly 10 percent to 8.6 percent over the next few years. If the number of incoming applications remains stable in FY 2007, the success rate for institutional training grants (T32) and career development awards (K-awards) will decrease notably. The success rate for individual fellowships (F30, F31, F32), however, is expected to remain the same as in FY 2006.

All investigators are strongly encouraged to contact a program officer in their area of research to receive technical assistance with their application prior to submission.

II. 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

Limited Competition for Applications to Analyze Whole Genome Association Data for NIMH

NIMH is holding a limited competition open only to successful applicants to the Genetic Association Information Network (GAIN) initiative. This limited competition will be for one time, one-year awards to help fund direct costs for analyses of whole genome association data for clinical phenotypes of interest to the NIMH.

Release Date: September 13, 2006; Expiration Date: January 23, 2007

Refining and Testing Mental Health Interventions and Services for Youth with Mental Illness who are Transitioning to Adulthood

NIMH is accepting applications for research aimed at refining and testing innovative interventions and service delivery models for youth with severe mental illnesses and/or with complex treatment needs who are transitioning to adulthood. Care for individuals in this age range is complicated by the unique developmental context; the multi-problem nature of behavioral health conditions; the lack of evidence-based interventions and services adapted for this age group; and various discontinuities in service systems and health care financing.

Release Date: September 11, 2006; Expiration Date: November 29, 2006

Collaborative RFAs

Near-Term Technology Development for Genome Sequencing

The National Human Genome Research Institute and NIMH are soliciting Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications to develop novel technologies that will substantially reduce the cost of genomic DNA sequencing. Current technologies are able to produce the sequence of a mammalian-sized genome of the desired data quality for $5 to $10 million; the goal of this initiative is to reduce costs by at least two orders of magnitude. Parallel FOAs of identical scientific scope (RFA-HG-06-015, RFA-HG-06-016, RFA-HG-06-017, RFA-HG-06-019) solicit applications under the R01, R21, R21/R33, and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant programs.

Release Date: September 29, 2006; Expiration Date: November 25, 2006

Revolutionary Genome Sequencing Technologies — The $1000 Genome

This FOA, related to RFA-HG-06-018 and parallel to FOAs of identical scientific scope (RFA-HG-06-020, RFA-HG-06-021, RFA-HG-06-022, RFA-HG-06-024), solicit applications under the R01, R21, R21/R33, and STTR grant programs. The goal of this initiative is to reduce costs by at least four orders of magnitude, so that a mammalian-sized genome could be sequenced for approximately $1000. It is anticipated that realizing the goals of this FOA is a long-range effort that is likely to require as much as ten years to achieve.

Release Date: September 29, 2006; Expiration Date: November 25, 2006

Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP) Repository

The goal of the NIH Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP) is generating a comprehensive resource of mutant alleles to serve as a tool in the study of human disease. The purpose of this FOA is to solicit applications to develop a repository that will play an integral role in the KOMP Research Network by serving to collect and distribute resources generated through the KOMP initiative. Specifically, the goals of the repository will be to: (1) establish archives of resources generated by the other components of the KOMP Research Network, namely, embryonic stem (ES) cells, frozen embryos, DNA constructs, and live mice; and (2) distribute mutants as cryo-preserved ES cells, frozen embryos, or live mice.

Release Date: September 20, 2006; Expiration Date: December 1, 2006

Culturally Appropriate Research to Prevent HIV Transmission and Infection in Young People

NIMH and the National Institute of Nursing Research invite research that incorporates an in-depth understanding of cultural appropriateness to HIV prevention research among young people in the United States or abroad. The overall purpose of the FOA is to develop theoretically grounded approaches to prevention of HIV infection and transmission in young people based upon a broad definition of culture. It is anticipated that such knowledge will improve both the quality and applicability of research among the diverse populations affected by the pandemic who have all grown up never knowing a world without AIDS.

Release Date: September 15, 2006; Expiration Date: December 22, 2006

Microbicide Innovation Program (MIP II)

Using the NIH Phased Innovation Award (R21/R33), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, along with NIMH and the Office of Research on Women's Health, is soliciting research to develop a safe, effective, acceptable topical microbicide to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. This phased award will support the exploratory and developmental research to establish the feasibility of new microbicides, microbicide strategies and support technologies, as well as provide the support required to translate discoveries into the preclinical/ clinical development pipeline.

Release Date: September 12, 2006; Expiration Date: December 21, 2006

Genome-wide Association Studies in the Genes and Environment Initiative

The NIH-wide Genes and Environment Initiative (GEI) has the long-range goal of determining the etiology of common diseases by focusing on genetic and environmental factors that increase the risk of these diseases, and the interaction among these factors. Three separate funding opportunities are included in this present initiative to provide support for: (1) large-scale, high-throughput genotyping capabilities to genotype samples from human subjects on whom information is available for conditions/traits of public health importance and relevant environmental exposures for genome-wide association (GWA) genotyping and replication studies; (2) a Coordinating Center to serve as a centralized resource to facilitate and support GWA studies and other research activities; and (3) for investigative groups to conduct GWA genotyping and/or replication studies.

Release Date: September 7, 2006; Expiration Date: November 30, 2006

NIMH Program Announcements

Since the beginning of June 2006, NIMH has published over two dozen 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. Recent Roadmap FOAs include:

Membrane Protein Production and Structure Determination

Release Date: August 31, 2006; Expiration Date: October 28, 2006

Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award

Release Date: August 22, 2006; Expiration Date: January 18, 2007

Using Metabolomics to Investigate Biological Pathways and Networks

Release Date: June 20, 2006; Expiration Date: October 21, 2006

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.

Biomarkers for Neurodegeneration

Release Date: October 2, 2006; Expiration Date: December 9, 2006

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) for Interdisciplinary Individual Postdoctoral Fellows for Training in Neurodegeneration Research

Release Date: October 2, 2006; Expiration Date: December 9, 2006

Short-Term Interdisciplinary Career Enhancement Awards for Neurodegeneration Research

Release Date: October 2, 2006; Expiration Date: December 9, 2006

Therapeutics Delivery for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Release Date: October 2, 0026; Expiration Date: December 9, 2006

III. Future Research Directions

National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) 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.

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 several months. You should send questions about a specific meeting to the program contact listed in the description.

IV. Update on Electronic Submission of Grant Applications

The planned conversion of all R01s to electronic submission is on track for February 1, 2007. NIH will issue a "parent" R01 FOA for R01 applications that are not responding to a specific initiative from a particular Institute. Since all applicants will be required to respond to announcements electronically, the parent announcement will accommodate any investigator-initiated R01 applications that previously would not have cited an announcement. The Institutes will also re-issue new R01 announcements for specific research areas. The NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts and the Electronic Submission website will post the latest news on this continuing process.

To prepare extramural grant applicants for the transition of R01s to electronic format, NIH will hold two training sessions on December 5, 2006. In addition, there will be hands-on computer lab sessions in December to give applicants the opportunity to practice with eSubmission experts. General training videos are now available.

V. 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; posted on the NIMH website
  • Science updates — highlight recently published findings; also 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.

Research Results for the Public

NIH is in the process of posting fact sheets for the public to learn more about how NIH is pursuing its goal to make important medical discoveries that improve health and save lives. There are over 50 fact sheets describing important research progress and hopes for tomorrow's cures. These updates can be found at the NIH webpage on Research Results for the Public and includes fact sheets on schizophrenia (PDF File, 48 KB) and mood disorders (PDF file, 53 KB).