October 8, 2020
On October 5th, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) brought together the stakeholder community for updates on several trans-NIH research initiatives and an opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Josh Gordon, Director of NIMH. In the past, NIMH stakeholders have been organized into two groups, the Alliance for Research Progress, comprised of groups representing families and patients, and the Professional Coalition for Research Progress, made up of professional societies. Members of these two groups, led by FABBS and the American Psychological Association, have recently come together to unify the stakeholder community to form the Friends of NIMH.
Speakers provided updates on the following research initiatives:
- All of Us Research Program Programmatic Update; A Glimpse of Mental Health Data in All of Us
Holly Garriock, Ph.D., Acting Director, Division of Scientific Programs for the All of Us Research Program, NIH.
- NIH BRAIN Initiative: Future Directions
John Ngai, Director, Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, NIH.
- NIMH Intramural Research Program Response to COVID-19
Maryland Pao, Clinical Director and Deputy Scientific Director, NIMH, NIH.
Dr. Gordon responded to a wide range of questions from attendees covering everything from efforts to better understand the social determinants of mental health to responses to recent attacks on researchers using animal models. Dr. Gordon spoke about the NIMH approach to balancing their portfolio. Generally, NIMH thinks about investments as a mix of long-term, mid-term, and near-term research rather than dividing the budget by disease specific investments. NIMH reviews their grant portfolio for gaps and can initiate Requests for Information to help generate research applications in certain areas. Dr. Gordon encouraged attendees to see recent blog posts on RDOC at 10 Years and The Next 10 Years.
On October 3rd, the President released an Executive Order on Saving Lives Through Increased Support For Mental- and Behavioral-Health Needs. The order brings attention to policies to address mental health and addiction during COVID-19 and outlines plans to establish a federal Coronavirus Mental Health Working Group.