Scientists attending the FABBS Council of Representatives Annual Meeting were invited to participate in a meeting with the new National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director, Dr. Joshua Gordon. Gordon, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, joined NIH on September 12, 2016. Soon after taking the reins at NIMH, Gordon told Nature, “I won’t be doing anything radical [in the first year in office]. I am just going to listen to and learn from all the stakeholders—the scientific community, the public, consumer advocacy groups and other government offices.”
Indeed, Gordon reiterated this message with FABBS. “I am going to spend the year learning.” Although Gordon is still getting a lay of the land, it was clear that he would be willing to move NIMH in new directions, if the science or mental health needs called for it.
FABBS was represented by a number of Board members and representatives from the following societies: Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Association for Behavior Analysis International, Behavior Genetics Association, Cognitive Science Society, International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society, Society for Psychophysiological Research, Society for Research in Psychopathology, and Society of Experimental Social Psychology.
At several points throughout the meeting, Gordon called on the scientists to focus on “gap areas” and “what we need to know.” Gordon added, “identify gaps that are important to NIMH, but that are also relevant to behavioral science.”
FABBS shared with the new NIMH leadership a brief document describing some promising opportunities in integrating behavioral and neural research in NIMH priorities.
FABBS leaders and society representatives appreciated the opportunity to connect with the new NIMH Director at this early stage, hear more about his own interests, and share some thoughts on promising research avenues.