Provides grants-in-aid to public and private institutions and individuals in fields related to its areas of interest, including research project, program project, and research center grants.
Conducts a diversified program of intramural and collaborative research in its own laboratories and clinics.
Provides contracts for the funding of research and research support projects in areas related to the brain, mental illness, and mental health.
In many years of work with animals as well as human subjects, NIMH researchers have advanced understanding of the brain and vastly expanded the capability of mental health professionals to diagnose, treat, and prevent mental and brain disorders.
The institute also conducts information and educational activities, including the dissemination of information and educational materials on mental illness, for health professionals and the lay public, and maintains relationships with professional associations international, national, and state and local officials and voluntary agencies and organizations working in the areas of mental health and mental illness.
1775--In the late 18th century, mental illness in this country finally received scientific attention, from Dr. Benjamin Rush. As part of his program to improve the care given mental patients admitted to the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Rush struck at the hearsay, superstition, and ignorance surrounding mental illness. He introduced occupational therapy, amusements, and exercise for patients and saw to it that they had decent, clean quarters. For his accomplishments, Dr. Rush is known as the "Father of American Psychiatry."
1840--In 1840 there were only eight asylums for the insane in the U.S. Dorothea Dix's crusading led to establishment or enlargement of 32 mental hospitals, and transfer of the mentally ill from poorhouses and jails.
The first attempt to measure the extent of mental illness and mental retardation in the United states occurred with the U.S. Census of 1840. The census included the category "insane and idiotic."
1855--The Government Hospital for the Insane opened in Washington, D.C. It was renamed St. Elizabeths Hospital in 1916.
1900--Early in the 20th century, the "mental hygiene" movement came into being, due largely to the efforts of Clifford Beers in New England. A former mental patient, Beers shocked readers with a graphic account of hospital conditions depicted in his famous book, The Mind that Found Itself.
The inspection of immigrants at Ellis Island included screening to detect the mentally disturbed and retarded among the thousands of men, women, and children arriving daily. The high incidence of mental disorders found among the immigrants prompted public recognition of mental illness as a national health problem.
1929--The establishment of two Federal Narcotics farms was authorized within the PHS. The Lexington Hospital opened in 1935 and the Fort Worth Hospital in 1938. Both facilities participated in pioneering research on drug abuse, carried forward by the Addiction Research Center at Lexington, which later moved to Baltimore.
1930--The PHS established the Narcotics Division, later named Division of Mental Hygiene. The division brought together for the first time the threads of the mental health movement--from research and treatment programs to combat drug addiction to the study of the causes, prevalence, and means of preventing and treating nervous and mental disease. Dr. Walter Treadway headed the division. He was succeeded by Dr. Lawrence Kolb who retained the post until his retirement in 1944 when Dr. Robert H. Felix took over.
1940--The concept of a "National Psychiatric Institute" was born, but World War II intervened and the plan was not introduced before the Congress. The war demonstrated the tremendous toll taken by mental illness. More men received medical discharges from the Armed Forces for neuropsychiatric disorders than for any other reason more than 1 million Americans were rejected for military service for that reason.
1944--It was soon evident that there were severe shortages of professional mental health personnel and that understanding of the causes, treatment, and prevention of mental illness lagged far behind other fields of medical science and public health. Dr. William Menninger, chief of Army neuropsychiatry and an outstanding leader of the profession, called for Federal action.
The new director of the PHS Division of Mental Hygiene, Dr. Robert H. Felix, presented a proposal for a national mental health program to the Surgeon General of the U.S. This proposal was to form the basis of the National Mental Health Act of 1946.
1946--On July 3 President Truman signed the National Mental Health Act which called for the establishment of a National Institute of Mental Health.
The first meeting of the National Advisory Mental Health Council was held on August 15. Since no Federal funds were available, the Greentree Foundation awarded a grant of $15,000 to finance the meeting.
1947--On July 1 the first mental health research grant (MH-1) was awarded to Dr. Winthrop N. Kellogg of Indiana University by the Division of Mental Hygiene. It was titled "Basic Nature of the Learning Process."
The National Reporting Program on Patients in Mental Institutions was transferred from the U.S. Census Bureau to the Division of Mental Hygiene.
1948--Congress did not appropriate funds to implement the National Mental Health Act until fiscal year 1948.
1949--On April 15 the NIMH was established with the abolishment of the Division of Mental Hygiene. NIMH was one of the first four NIH institutes.
1955--The Mental Health Study Act of 1955 called for "an objective, thorough, nationwide analysis and reevaluation of the human and economic problems of mental health." The act furnished the basis for the historic study conducted by the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health. The commission's final report, Action for Mental Health, provided the background for President John F. Kennedy's special message to Congress on mental health.
The number of patients in mental hospitals began to decline reflecting the introduction of psychopharmacology in the treatment of mental illness.
1956--Congress appropriated $12 million for research in the clinical and basic aspects of psychopharmacology and the Psychopharmacology Service Center was established.
The Health Amendments Act authorized the support of community services for the mentally ill, such as halfway houses, daycare, and aftercare under Title V.
1961--Action for Mental Health, the final report of the Joint Commission on Mental Health and Illness, was transmitted to Congress. A 10-volume series, it assessed mental health conditions and resources throughout the U.S. "to arrive at a national program that would approach adequacy in meeting the individual needs of the mentally ill people of America."
1963--President Kennedy submitted a special message to Congress on mental health issues.
Passage of the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, an outgrowth of President Kennedy"s message, began a new era in Federal support for mental health services.
1965--During the mid-1960's NIMH launched an extensive attack on special mental health problems. Established were centers for child and family mental health, crime and delinquency, minority group mental health problems, schizophrenia, urban problems, and later, rape, aging, and technical assistance to victims of natural disasters.
The mental health centers staffing amendments authorized grants to help pay the salaries of professional and technical personnel in Community Mental Health Centers.
The Joint Commission on Mental Health of Children was established by Congress to recommend national action for child mental health.
1966--Despite the large population directly affected, alcohol abuse and alcoholism did not receive full recognition as a major public health problem until the mid-1960's. The National Center for Prevention and Control of Alcoholism was established as part of NIMH. Four years later it became a division on its way to institute status.
A research program on drug abuse was inaugurated with the establishment of the Center for Studies of Narcotic and Drug Abuse within NIMH. Division status followed in 1968, with institute status in 1972.
1967--NIMH was separated from NIH and raised to bureau status in PHS by a reorganization that became effective January 1. NIMH's Division of Clinical, Behavioral and Biological Research, within the Mental Health Intramural Research Program, comprising activities conducted in the Clinical Center and other NIH facilities, continued at NIH under an agreement for joint administration between NIH and NIMH.
On August 13 DHEW Secretary John W. Gardner transferred St. Elizabeths Hospital, the Federal Government's only civilian psychiatric hospital, to NIMH.
1968--NIMH became a component of PHS's Health Services and Mental Health Administration (HSMHA).
1969--Crisis in Child Mental Health, the report of the Joint Commission on Mental Health of Children, was made public.
1970--Dr. Julius Axelrod, an NIMH researcher, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research into the chemistry of nerve transmission for "discoveries concerning the humoral transmitters in the nerve terminals and the mechanisms for their storage, release and inactivation." He found an enzyme that terminates the action of the nerve transmitter, noradrenaline.
FDA approved the use of lithium as an anti-manic based upon NIMH research. This led to a savings of approximately $40 billion over the next couple of decades and a sharp drop of inpatient days and suicides.
The Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act established the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism within NIMH.
1971--A group of 17 national health and mental health organizations sponsored a 2-day conference honoring the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the National Mental Health Act.
1972--The Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act established a National Institute on Drug Abuse within NIMH.
1973--NIMH temporarily rejoined NIH on July 1 with the abolishment of HSMHA.
On September 25 the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA)--composed of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and NIMH--was established administratively by the DHEW secretary as the successor organization to NIMH.
A task force consisting of over 300 consultants, was established to review and analyze the 25-year history of federally sponsored research programs in mental health. Their report, Research in the Service of Mental Health, was issued in 1975.
1974--ADAMHA was officially established on May 4 when President Nixon signed P.L. 93-282.
1975--The community mental health centers program was given added impetus with the passage of the CMHC amendments of 1975.
1977--President Carter established the President's Commission on Mental Health on February 17 by Executive Order No. 11973. The commission was to review the mental health needs of the Nation and to make recommendations to the President as to how the Nation might best meet these needs.
1978--Dr. Solomon H. Snyder, an NIMH grantee, was awarded the Albert Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research for his pioneering work in identifying the opiate receptors, and the demonstration of their relation to the enkephalins, natural chemicals released by the brain which have the effect of relieving pain and influencing emotional behavior.
The Report to the President from the President's Commission on Mental Health was submitted.
1980--The Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study, a unique and massive research effort in which more than 20,000 persons were interviewed, began. The field interviews and first wave analysis were completed in 1985. Data from the ECA provide an accurate picture of rates of mental and addictive disorders and services usage.
The Mental Health Systems Act, which was based on the Report to the President from the President's Commission on Mental Health and was designed to provide improved services for the mentally ill, was passed.
1981--President Reagan signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981. This act repealed the Mental Health Systems Act and consolidated ADAMHA's treatment and rehabilitation service programs into a single block grant that enabled each State to administer its allocated funds. With the repeal of the community mental health legislation and the establishment of block grants the Federal role in services to the mentally ill became one of providing technical assistance to increase the capacity of State and local providers of mental health services.
Dr. Louis Sokoloff, an NIMH researcher, was given the Albert Lasker Award in Clinical Medical Research for developing a new method of measuring brain function that contributes to basic understanding and diagnosis of brain diseases. His technique involving measuring the brain's utilization of glucose led to the development of the PET scanner, which produces color images showing glucose utilization in the living, functional brain.
Dr. Roger W. Sperry, an NIMH grantee, shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Drs. David Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel. It was awarded for his discoveries concerning functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres.
1983--Dr. Eric R. Kandel, an NIMH grantee, was awarded the Albert Lasker Award in Medical Research for application of cell biology techniques to the study of behavior, revealing the mechanisms underlying learning and memory.
1985--A major reorganization to align the extramural structure to emphasize the institute's primary mission of research was accomplished. This provided for an increased focus on understanding the biological and behavioral underpinnings of mental illness and mental health and for improving the treatment/prevention of mental and emotional disorders.
1986--A 2-day scientific seminar, which was held to honor the 40th anniversary of the National Mental Health Act, took place in Washington, D.C. It was sponsored by the organizing committee for the 40th anniversary commemoration and the MacArthur Foundation.
1987--On October 1 administrative control of St. Elizabeths Hospital was transferred from the NIMH to the District of Columbia. NIMH retained research facilities on the grounds of the hospital.
1988--Approaching the 21st Century: Opportunities for NIMH Neuroscience Research, a report to Congress from the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), was issued.
The second of NAMHC's reports to Congress, National Plan for Schizophrenia Research, was published.
1989--Congress passed a resolution and President Bush signed a proclamation establishing the 1990's as the "Decade of the Brain." NIMH continued its strong emphasis on its research into the basic functions of the brain and their relationship to mental illness.
The NIMH Neuroscience Center and the NIMH Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital, located on the grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital, were dedicated on September 25.
1990--The third NAMHC report to Congress, National Plan for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders, was submitted.
The first of three hearings on Mental Health in America, sponsored by NAMHC, was held on April 12. It explored mental illness and mental health services in rural America.
A hearing on child and adolescent mental disorders, the second of the Mental Health in America series, was held on October 9.
1991--The fourth NAMHC report to Congress, Caring for People with Severe Mental Disorders: A National Plan of Research to Improve Services, was presented.
The last of the Mental Health in America hearings was held on September 5. It addressed issues concerning severe mental illness and homelessness.
The report, Mental Health in America: A Series of Public Hearings, was submitted to Congress by NAMHC in December.
1992--On October 1, ADAMHA was abolished and the research components of NIAAA, NIDA, NIMH rejoined NIH. The services components of the institutes became part of a new PHS agency, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The establishment of the Center for Mental Health Services within SAMHSA provided opportunities for improved advocacy for and linkage of research and services.
The return to NIH and the loss of services functions to SAMHSA brought about a realignment of NIMH headquarters. New offices were created for research on AIDS, Prevention, Special Populations, and Rural Mental Health. The four research divisions are: Neuroscience and Behavioral Science; Clinical and Treatment Research; Epidemiology and Services Research; and Intramural Research Programs.
1930--P.L. 71-357 redesignated the PHS Narcotics Division to the Division of Mental Hygiene.
1939--P.L. 76-19 transferred PHS from the Treasury Department to the Federal Security Agency.
1946--P.L. 79-487, the National Mental Health Act, authorized the Surgeon General to improve the mental health of U.S. citizens through research into the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of psychiatric disorders.
1949--NIMH was established April 15.
1953--Reorganization plan #1 assigned PHS to the newly created Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
1955--P.L. 84-182, the Mental Health Study Act, authorized NIMH to study and make recommendations on mental health and mental illness in the U.S. The act also authorized the creation of the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health.
1956--P.L. 84-830, the Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act, provided for territorial treatment facilities for mentally
ill individuals in Alaska.
1963--P.L. 88-164, the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, provided for grants for assistance in the construction of community mental health centers nationwide.
1965--P.L. 89-105, amendments to P.L. 88-164, provided for grants for the staffing of community mental health centers.
1966--P.L. 89-793, Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1966, launched a national program for long-term treatment and rehabilitation of narcotic addicts.
1967--NIMH was separated from NIH and raised to bureau status in PHS--P.L. 90-31, Mental Health Amendments of 1967.
1968--NIMH became a component of the newly created Health Services and Mental Health Administration.
P.L. 90-574, Alcoholic and Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Amendments of 1968, authorized funds for the construction and staffing of new facilities for the prevention of alcoholism and the treatment and rehabilitation of alcoholics.
1970--P.L. 92-211, Community Mental Health Centers Amendments of 1970, authorized construction and staffing of centers for 3 more years, with priority on poverty areas.
P.L. 91-513, Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, expanded the national drug abuse program by extending the services of federally funded community treatment centers to nonnarcotic drug abusers as well as addicts.
P.L. 91-616, Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act, provided the resources needed to launch a comprehensive, all-out attack. Authorized the establishment of a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism within NIMH.
1972--P.L. 92-255, Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act of 1972, provided that a National Institute on Drug Abuse be established within NIMH.
1973--NIMH rejoined the NIH.
NIMH later became a component of the Alcohol Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA).
1974--P.L. 93-282 authorized the establishment of ADAMHA.
1978--P.L. 95-622, the Community Mental Health Centers Extension Act of 1978.
1979--P.L. 96-88, the Department of Education Organization Act, created the Department of Education and renamed DHEW the Department of Health and Human Services.
1980--P.L. 96-398, the Mental Health Systems Act, reauthorized the community mental health centers program.
1981--P.L. 97-35, the Omnibus Reconciliation Act, repealed P.L. 96-398 and consolidated ADAMHA's treatment and rehabilitation programs into a single block grant that enabled each State to administer allocated funds.
1983--P.L. 98-24, Alcohol Abuse Amendments of 1983, consolidated the current authorization for ADAMHA and the institutes into a new title V of the Public Health Service Act.
1984--P.L. 98-509, Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Amendments, authorized funding for block grants for fiscal years 1985 through 1987, as well as extending the authorizations for Federal activities in the areas of alcohol and drug abuse research, information dissemination, and development of new treatment methods.
1991--P.L. 99-550, Public Health Services Act, contained the requirement for State Comprehensive Mental Health Services Plan.
1992--P.L. 102-321, the ADAMHA Reorganization Act, abolished ADAMHA, created the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and transferred NIMH research activities to NIH.
Dr. Hyman was appointed NIMH director in April 1996. Born on July 25, 1952, in New York City, he received a B.A. from Yale in 1974, an M.A. from the University of Cambridge in 1976, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1980. He was a medical intern at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a psychiatric resident at McLean Hospital, and a clinical fellow in medicine and neurology at MGH. He also had 4 years of postdoctoral training in molecular biology at MGH.
Prior to his NIMH appointment, he was associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School an director of psychiatry research at MGH. He also served as director of Harvard University's interfaculty initiative in mind/brain/behavior. This program represents an attempt to bring together faculty from Harvard's diverse schools to focus on pressing problems related to behavior in the light of modern brain research.
Dr. Hyman's research has focused on how drugs of abuse, neurotransmitters, and cytokines produce long-term changes in brain function by activating or suppressing the expression of genes within nerve cells. In recent years his main focus has been on braini regions involved in the control of motivated behavior.
He has published numerous scientific papers and a textbook on molecular biology, and has authored and edited several clinical textbooks. He serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals.
The Division of Clinical and Treatment Research (DCTR) is the largest of NIMH's extramural divisions. Scientists here carry out studies of mental disorders and their etiology, diagnosis, psychopathology, and treatment. From this research, clinical advances emerge to bring new hope to people with mental illness and their families. The division also supports research training, conferences, and workshops.
DCTR has six branches. These are:
Research sponsored by this branch centers on improving our understanding of the causes of schizophrenia, the severe disorder that NIMH has designated as its top research priority. Scientists searching for the underlying abnormalities responsible for schizophrenia derive important information from brain imaging and other advanced techniques that reveal the anatomical defects and disturbances of brain function occurring in the disease. They also use molecular genetic approaches to search for genes that may be involved in the disorder. In other research, investigators are exploring psychosocial factors that affect people with schizophrenia.
Clinical Treatment Research Branch
This branch provides support for a wide spectrum of research dealing with pharmacologic, biologic, and psychosocial treatment and rehabilitation of mental disorders in adults. Of particular interest is the development and evaluation of integrated psychosocial-biologic treatments. The branch supports treatment research focused on schizophrenia, tardive dyskinesia, depression, manic-depressive illness, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, general anxiety disorder, somatoform disorder, personality disorders, menstrual-related disorders, sleep disorders, and sexual disorders.
Mood, Anxiety, and Personality Disorders Research Branch
. The mission of this branch is to foster research and research training that will help to alleviate the suffering of people who have depression, other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or personality disorders. These conditions are the most common mental illnesses, and several of them are risk factors for suicide.
Child and Adolescent Disorders Research Branch
Research supported by this branch deals with the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and outcome of mental disorders in children and adolescents. The aim of these studies is to develop knowledge that can be used to help afflicted youngsters and their families. Conditions studied include attention deficit disorder, autism, affective disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, conduct disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and youth suicide.
Mental Disorders of the Aging Research Branch
This branch fosters a broad spectrum of research in the biomedical and behavioral sciences and in mental health services. The goal is to obtain much-needed information about the causes, prevention, and treatments of mental illnesses in the elderly, and to improve the rehabilitation of older people suffering from these disorders. Among the disorders under study are Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, depression, late-onset schizophrenia, and sleep disturbances.
Research Projects and Publications Branch
Working in concert with the other branches of DCTR, this branch has responsibility for the production, publication, and distribution of various scientific publications (such as the Schizophrenia Bulletin, the Psychopharmacology Bulletin, and the Psychotherapy and Rehabilitation Bulletin). Further, the branch coordinates data management, analysis, and reporting requirements of national clinical research studies.
The Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Science (DNBS) supports behavioral, biomedical and neuroscience research and research training to develop and expand fundamental knowledge that can ultimately advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. DNBS is composed of the following four programs.
Research supported by this branch concerns the cognitive, personality, emotional, and social processes involved in normal behavioral functioning and adaptation. This includes research on factors that increase vulnerability to maladaptive outcomes, as well as those that foster protection and resiliency. Branch goals include understanding genetic and experiential contributors to behavior the interrelations and interactions among social, pyschological, and biological processes and developmental changes and continuities across the lifespan. Experimental, correlational, and longitudinal designs are included, as are cross-cultural, behavioral-genetic, ethnographic, computational, and animal model approaches.
Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience Research Branch
This branch supports research on brain mechanisms underlying cognition and behavior in functional organisms and through theoretical models, with a view to understanding how cognition/behavior develops, how it is maintained, and how it is regulated. This knowledge is crucial for improved diagnosis and treatment of all disorders of cognition and behavior including mental illness.
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Research Branch
This branch supports research on the molecular and cellular basis of normal and abnormal brain function related to mental health and mental illness. Research areas supported include neurotrasmitter distribution and function, neuronal signal transduction, regulation of gene expression, neural development and its regulation, relationships of the nervous system to the endocrine and immune systems, and neuropharmacology and discovery of new psychotherapeutic agents.
Scientific Technology and Resources
Methodological and technological innovations not only permit new approaches to be taken to old questions, but also stimulate investigation by raising new questions. Such innovations have been responsible for quantum advances in all areas of science, including the brain and behavioral sciences. Because the breadth of brain and behavioral research extends from the molecular level to the behavioral level, the tools and approaches which have allowed progress in these areas are extremely varied: from novel ways to assess behavior, to new systems for recording neural activity, to innovative methods for identifying gene expression.
Division of Epidemiology and Services Research
The Division of Epidemiology and Services Research (DESR) is the NIMH focal point for studies of the frequency of mental disorders and risk factors for their development prevention of mental disorders violence and traumatic stress and the support and development of mental health services research. Research topics include the organization, financing, delivery, and outcomes of services to those with mental disorders as well as research that attempts to enhance the quality of care delivered.
Research supported by this branch pertains to mental health care services provided in mental health care facilities, general health care facilities, and community settings. This includes studies on mental health services for children and adolescents, the elderly, and minority populations rural mental health services and research in other priority areas noted above.
Violence and Traumatic Stress Research Branch
Research supported by this branch centers on victims of interpersonal violence (including rape, sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, and criminal violence) victims of emergencies and catastrophic events (including disaster, combat, community violence, and accidents) perpetrators of interpersonal violence (including studies of the causes, prevention, and treatment of violent andaggressive behavior in children and adults) and issues of law and mental health (including studies of mentally disordered offenders and violent behavior among the mentally ill).
Epidemiology and Psychopathology Research Branch
Activities of this branch include identification and analysis of risk factors for mental disorders, determination of the rates of occurrence of mental disorders among adults and children (including minorities), development of standardized methods for assessment and classification of mental disorders, and sponsoring training in mental health epidemiology.
Prevention Research Branch
This branch supports research and research training in the prevention of mental disorders and related serious problems in high-risk populations and in the promotion of mental health. Included are theory-driven prevention trials of interventions that interrupt the development of dysfunctions and improve individual adaptive capabilities. Research directed at modifying known risk factors for mental disorders is supported, as are methodological studies especially relevant to preventive intervention research.
The branch also supports the NIMH Depression Awareness, Recognition, and Treatment (D/ART) program, a national professional and public education effort. To achieve its goal of alleviating unnecessary personal suffering and reducing the economic costs of depression, D/ART educates health and mental health professionals about the diagnosis and treatment of depressive disorders, informs the public about the symptoms and effective treatments for depression, and encourages depressed individuals to seek appropriate treatment.
Basic Prevention and Behavioral Medicine Research Branch.
This branch supports research on 1) the basic behavioral, biological, genetic, and social factors and psychological processes that impact on physical health and the maintenance of emotional well-being and 2) on interventions to prevent, monitor, or enhance health-related behaviors and psychological states. Research supported by the branch encompasses a wide range of health-related studies on the biological, psychological, and psychosocial aspects of stress, immunology, sleep and its disorders, circadian rhythms, nutrition, eating behavior and disorders, reproductive function, sexual behavior, medical illnesses, exercise, and health-related attitudes and practices.
The major emphases of the branch's programs are to develop an understanding of the relationships among behavior and physical illness and emotional dysfunction and to identify ways of maximizing healthful behaviors and minimizing health-damaging behaviors. The branch's goal is to develop and integrate behavioral and biomedical science knowledge and techniques relevant to health and illness and to apply these techniques to prevention, diagnosis, intervention, and rehabilitation. Theory-driven research is encouraged. Studies using either humans or animals are supported.
NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (DIRP) plans and administers a comprehensive, long-term, multidisciplinary brain and behavioral research program dealing with the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders, as well as the biological and psychosocial factors that determine normal and pathological human behavior. DIRP provides a national and international focus for mental health research.
Participating in DIRP activities are over 600 staff members, 50 percent of whom are investigators. Many foreign and domestic guest scientists also contribute to the research effort of DIRP. Work is conducted in laboratories at three main facilities located on the main campus of NIH in Bethesda, Md.,at the Neuroscience Center at St. Elizabeths Hospital (NSCSE) in the District of Columbia, and at the NIH Animal Center (NIHAC) in Poolesville, Md. Broad spectra of adult and childhood psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness, are studied in patients at both the NIH and St. Elizabeths facilities. In addition, hundreds of basic neuroscience projects examining many aspects of central nervous system structure and function are carried out at all three facilities.
Behavior, both normal and pathological, is studied through an interdisciplinary approach. A variety of methods is used to correlate changes in neuronal function with behavior and to identify and measure the neurochemical and neurophysiological substrates of behavior.
The regulation of central nervous system metabolism is examined at various levels to determine its role in relationship to health and disease. Relatively noninvasive brain imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission tomography (SPECT), and functional magnetic resonance are used to study living subjects in various physiologic and pathologic states. Molecular studies focus on many aspects of synaptic neurotransmission, including the biosynthesis, release, reuptake, and metabolism of neurotransmitters. The effects of disease, dietary changes, hormones, and drugs on synaptic events constitute a major area of investigation within DIRP.
Clinical pharmacological studies designed to improve treatment of the mentally ill center on work with psychoactive and psychotherapeutic drugs. Included in these studies are efforts to identify biological events and clinical measures that can serve as predictors of therapeutic response to these drugs. Other work includes characterization of receptors for neurotransmitters and psychoactive substances whose mechanisms of action are unknown. Studies of the regulation and action of receptors at the cellular level constitute a major area of investigation.
Genetic studies include molecular genetic analyses of psychiatric and neurologic disorders, pharmacogenetic as well as epidemiologic and family studies. Data from these projects will aid in sorting out the important and complex interactions between biological systems (i.e., the central nervous system) and the environment that determine behavior.
DIRP comprises of 24 components, as follows: Research Services; Veterinary Medicine and Resources; Biological Psychiatry; Clinical Neurogenetics; Clinical Psychobiology; Child Psychiatry; Clinical Neuroendocrinology; Experimental Therapeutics; Clinical Neuroscience; Laboratory of Clinical Science; Laboratory of Psychology and Psychopathology; Laboratory of Developmental Psychology; Laboratory of Socio-Environmental Studies; Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism; Laboratory of Neuro-psychology; Laboratory of Cell Biology; Laboratory of General and Comparative Biochemistry; Laboratory of Molecular Biology; Laboratory of Neurochemistry; Laboratory of Neurophysiology; *Clinical and Research Services Branch; **Neuro-psychiatry Branch; **Clinical Brain Disorders Branch; **Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics; (*Located at the NIH Animal Center; ** Located at St. Elizabeths).
Division of Extramural Activities
The most important responsibility of the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) is to oversee the review of grant applications. Its aim is to provide every applicant with expert and fair review of his or her application and thereby ensure that NIMH supports the research and other activities that offer the greatest promise of furthering knowledge relevant to mental health and mental illness. DEA also provides committee management services and overseesactivities of the National Advisory Mental Health Council, the advisory body to NIMH. In these and other ways, DEA exercises leadership in developing, implementing, and coordinating NIMH extramural programs and policies.
DEA consists of the Office of the Director and three branches: Clinical Review; Neuroscience Review; and Behavioral and Applied Review. Each branch administers the initial review groups (IRGs) which provide scientific and technical review of applications for research and training grants, fellowships, and cooperative agreements, as well as concept review for research and development contracts. The branches of DEA monitor the review process to ensure quality and conformity to policy. They also interpret the IRGs' recommendations to the National Advisory Mental Health Council.
DEA is responsible for management and logistics of the meetings of the council and for preparing a major portion of the director's report to the council. A member of DEA staff serves as executive secretary to the council.
The division takes steps to ensure that grant applications reviewed by the institute adhere to guidelines on ethical conduct of research and provide for the inclusion of women and minorities in studies on human populations. The division also promotes adherence to safeguards for human and animal research.
DEA also oversees the issuance of program announcements and requests for applications (RFAs) that let the research community know what kinds of studies NIMH is most interested in supporting. Ensuring that these announcements and RFAs are clearly written, programmatically accurate, and faithfully conform to relevant criteria is DEA's responsibility.
Another major responsibility of DEA is to monitor the progress occurring in scientific areas relevant to NIMH's mission. DEA tracks significant developments in various fields of mental health research and training that will have an impact on the quality, diversity, and volume of grant applications. These trends are analyzed in light of IRG structure, new program announcements, and patterns of funding. With this ongoing analysis, the division is able to be responsive to changes in the review needs of the institute and to contribute to the evolution of science related to mental health and mental illness.
Office on AIDS
The NIMH AIDS program supports extramural research, intramural research, research training programs, and research development activities.
The NIMH AIDS program involves research at the biological, psychological, and behavioral level, including natural history, descriptive investigations, and experimental studies. It focuses on 1) the central nervous system effects of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, specifically neuropsycho-logical, neuropsychiatric, and neurological dysfunction; 2) brain-immune interactions; 3) clinical research on HIV-related mental disorders; 4) mental health services research on HIV infection and the severely mentally ill; 5) behavior change and prevention of HIV infection; and 6) psychological and psychosocial impact of HIV infection.
Intramural scientists have been conducting studies of a number of compounds that may prove effective in blocking infectivity by HIV. Other research areas include: clinical neuropsychiatric studies of AIDS patients; molecular biologic studies of the neurotropic impact of HIV on the brain; studies of cognitive dysfunction and dementia associated with AIDS; and the development of animal models to test novel antiviral drugs against HIV.
NIMH has two program announcements for individual and institutional research training across all areas of NIMH AIDS research. These include awards to individual fellows and also institutional awards.
Research Development Activities.
The program sponsors meetings to review work in progress in such areas as neuroscience, prevention, neuropsychology, and research training. Another activity is the development of reports to improve measurement and methodology in AIDS research and to stimulate the development of research applications.
This office coordinates and promotes institute research programs concerning the prevention of mental disorders and the promotion of mental health by developing, planning, executing, and assessing national programs to set institute goals and priorities. For example, the office sponsors conferences and workshops that bring together prevention experts and Federal policy makers to improve and facilitate the development of prevention programs.
Office of Rural Mental Health Research
The ORMHR directs, plans, coordinates, and supports research activities and information dissemination on conditions unique to those living in rural areas, including research on the delivery of mental health services to such areas. Also coordinates related departmental research activities and related activities of public and nonprofit entities.
Office of the Associate Director for Special Populations
The associate director for special populations provides leadership, advice, and coordination in developing, and fostering implementation of NIMH programmatic and administrative policies to promote mental health concerns of racial/ethnic minorities and women initiates and advances plans, policies, and activities to improve health and mental health of the Nation's women and racial/ethnic minorities. The office uses program planning, research, research training and public educational activities to promote mental health and prevent mental illness among women and racial/ethnic minorities; provides leadership in establishment and maintenance of organizational linkages and collaborates on mental health concerns of women and racial/ethnic minorities with components of HHS, other Federal agencies, professional organizations, and other health organizations and institutions; monitors progress of division-level goals and programs which bear on racial/ethnic minority and women's issues; and provides leadership and program guidance for the Career Opportunities in Research Education and Training Program (COR), the Minority Institutions Research Development Program (MIRDP), and the Supplements for Underrepresented Minorities in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Program.
The COR Honors Undergraduate Program assists institutions with substantial enrollment of racial/ethnic minority students in training of greater numbers of scientists as teachers and researchers in disciplines related to research in mental health.
The MIRDP provides grants to institutions with substantial enrollment of persons from racial/ethnic minority groups for support of research projects, enhancement of existing research infrastructure, and for advanced training of faculty. These grants also provide support for graduate and undergraduate students to serve as research associates on MIRDP projects.
The Supplements for Underrepresented Minorities in Biomedical and Behavioral Research are administrative supplements to existing research grants for research and salary support for high school students, undergraduate students, graduate research assistants, and junior level investigators. The proposed research must be an integral part of the ongoing research of the parent grant supported by NIMH.