NIH Advisory Committee to the Director Meets and FABBS submits Comments to NIMH

June 27, 2019

The NIH’s Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) convened in June for a packed agenda including updates on the BRAIN Initiative, sexual harassment policies, as well as the federal budget, artificial intelligence, diversity in the workforce, and vaccines.

The BRAIN Initiative co-chairs presented their final report “From Cells to Circuits, Towards Cures.” In the summary of the presentation, co-chairs indicated that BRAIN 2.0 will include an ‘added emphasis on behavior paradigms’. FABBS submitted comments on the draft report, encouraging the working group to advance the integration of human behavior with the other threads that are well-developed in Brain 2025. For more information about the BRAIN Initiative, please see the Q & A with Jim Gnadt, Team Lead for the NIH BRAIN Integrative and Quantitative Approaches.

The ACD also heard from the Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment. NIH recently released an interim report on the subject which included provisions to “treat professional misconduct, including sexual harassment, as seriously as research misconduct, as well as require all PIs to attest, when submitting NIH grant applications and progress reports, that they have not violated and will not violate their institutional code of conduct.” The interim report plans to “establish mechanisms for restorative justice for survivors, to recapture lost talent, and develop novel approaches to address investigator independence from their mentors.”

FABBS has submitted comments to NIMH in response to request for information on incorporating development and environment into the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Matrix.

FABBS President, Nora Newcombe commended NIMH on the effort.

“The decision to include development and environment in the RDoC matrix is an extremely important step for NIMH. We appreciated the opportunity to comment and express our support for this evolution of RDoC. If we truly want to move beyond the limits of previous diagnostic tools to better understand mental health, we must first better understand development and environment.”