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Mental Health Research Grants


Total Assistance, FY 2008 to Present
Assistance Listing Number

Objectives: The mission of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. In May 2020, NIMH released its new Strategic Plan for Research. The new Strategic Plan builds on the successes of previous NIMH strategic plans by providing a framework for scientific research and exploration, and addressing new challenges in mental health. The new Strategic Plan outlines four high-level Goals: • Goal 1: Define the Brain Mechanisms Underlying Complex Behaviors • Goal 2: Examine Mental Illness Trajectories Across the Lifespan • Goal 3: Strive for Prevention and Cures • Goal 4: Strengthen the Public Health Impact of NIMH-Supported Research These four Goals form a broad roadmap for the Institute’s research priorities over the next five years, beginning with the fundamental science of the brain and behavior, and extending through evidence-based services that improve public health outcomes. The Institute’s overall funding strategy is to support a broad spectrum of investigator-initiated research in fundamental science, with increasing use of Institute-solicited initiatives for applied research where public health impact is a short-term measure of success. The new Strategic Plan also addresses a number of cross-cutting themes that are relevant to all research supported by NIMH; these themes highlight areas where NIMH-funded science may have the greatest impact, bridge gaps, and offer novel approaches to accelerate advances in mental health research. For example, NIMH values a comprehensive research agenda that takes an inclusive approach that ensures research interests are varied, maintain diverse participation and partnerships, and achieve research goals across multiple timeframes. This includes diverse methodologies, tools, and models; research addressing complex basic, translational, and applied questions; research including both sexes and, as appropriate, genetic background; and, participants from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and across gender identities, geographical context, socioeconomic status, neurotype, and age – offering the best possible representation, for the broadest number of individuals who may ultimately benefit from these scientific advances. To accomplish the Goals outlined in the new Strategic Plan, NIMH will support research that aims: To characterize the genomic, molecular, cellular, and circuit components contributing to brain organization and function; to identify the developmental, functional, and regulatory mechanisms relevant to cognitive, affective, and social domains, across units of analysis; and, to generate and validate novel tools, techniques, and measures to quantify changes in the activity of molecules, cells, circuits, and connectomes. To discover gene variants and other genomic elements that contribute to the development of mental illnesses in diverse populations; to advance our understanding of the complex etiology of mental illnesses using molecular epidemiologic approaches that incorporate individual genetic information in large cohorts; to elucidate how human genetic variation affects the coordination of molecular, cellular, and physiological networks supporting higher-order functions and emergent properties of neurobiological systems; and, to develop novel tools and techniques for the analysis of large-scale genetic, multi-omic data as it applies to mental health. To utilize connectomic approaches to identify brain networks and circuit components that contribute to various aspects of mental function and dysfunction; to determine through brain-wide analysis how changes in the physiological properties of molecules, cells, and circuits contribute to mental illnesses; to develop molecular, cellular, and circuit-level biomarkers of impaired neural function in humans; and, to develop innovative technologies, – including new