NIMH director, Dr. Joshua Gordon, opened the 271st convening of the National Advisory on Mental Health Council (NAMHC), held in a hybrid setting on September 8. [Agenda] Dr. Gordon gave a brief update on Congressional interactions as well as appropriations. Following this, he went over funding demographic updates that reflected an uptick in NIMH-funded projects for minority populations. Also included was a general HHS and NIH update. Highlights from Dr. Gordon included the calls for responses for the RFI on NIH mission statement, sharing that the US Surgeon General released an Advisory on Social Media and Mental Health, and welcoming Dr. Jane Simoni as Director of OBSSR.
Dr. Gordon also announced the winner of the annual James Jackson Memorial Award, Dr. Lisa Bowleg, a professor in applied social psychology at the George Washington University.
The Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) Program is an NIH common fund program that advances the science of health equity research. Dr. Chrisopher Gordon, Chief, HIV Prevention and Care Continuum and Dr. Collene Lawhorn, COVID Mental Health Impact lead co-led an update on NIMH’s involvement with ComPASS. The program is particularly relevant to the NIMH mission, as well as goals 3 and 4 in the NIMH strategic plan.
Basic and applied research on high-dimensional phenotypes has dramatically increased in recent years. In response to this, NIMH convened the Council Workgroup on High Dimensional Datasets to seek advisory input from the NAMHC. The group is charged with developing recommendations regarding appropriate conceptual frameworks and experimental and analytic designs for experiments using high-dimensional datasets Dr. Jonathan Pevsner shared that the group has been reviewing relevant literature on best practices, high dimensional study examples provided by NIMH programs.
The meeting concluded with four new concepts clearances:
- The NIH NeuroBioBank
- NIMH Repository and Genomic resource for Advancing Psychiatric Genetics
- Priority Research Opportunities in Crisis Response Services
- Optimizing Behavioral Sleep Interventions for Adolescents and Young Adults
NIMH Begins 75th Anniversary Celebrations
The NIMH is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year with a yearlong series of events and communications. The kickoff symposium took place on September 13 with an agenda reflecting the evolution of mental health research. Several former NIMH Directors attended, including the most recent prior to Dr. Gordon, Dr. Tom Insell (2002-2015) and psychologist Alan Leshner, who had served in an acting capacity (1990 – 1992).
In speaking about the evolution of NIMH, Dr. Gordon shared that the Institute budget has nearly doubled since 2016 and pointed to an increase in White House engagement and Congressional interest. He reflected on NIMH progress and continuing efforts to expand diversity within the institute and among funded researchers and provided examples of effective interventions made possible by NIMH, including treatments for depression, increased effectiveness and access to cognitive behavioral therapy and coordinated specialty care for first episode psychosis. FABBS Executive Director, Juliane Baron, appreciated the opportunity to attend in person.
As co-chair of the Friends of NIMH, FABBS is planning a May event on Capitol Hill to continue the 75th anniversary celebrations.