NIH News Release
National Institute of Mental Health

Monday, October 29, 2001

Marilyn Weeks
(301) 443-4536

NIMH Director Named Harvard Provost

Bethedsa, Maryland — Steven E. Hyman, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for the past five and one-half years, will return to Harvard University as Provost. In this post, Hyman will help shape academics and policy at the university, where he once served as professor and director of research for the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Hyman will begin at Harvard on December 10, 2001.

"As excited as I am to be returning to Harvard, I feel a deep sense of loss in leaving NIMH," Hyman said. " My sadness in leaving is tempered by the recognition that NIMH has an incredibly strong cohort of leaders and staff who share high standards, a deep knowledge of science, and a firm commitment to our public health mission. We have accomplished more together than many could have imagined."

Chosen to direct NIMH because of his extensive interests in both basic and clinical research and his commitment to excellence as a scientist, teacher, and research leader, Hyman arrived at the Institute in April 1996. He is credited with initiating major changes in the NIMH research portfolio, now considered state of the art in the scientific and mental health communities.

Nobel laureate Harold Varmus, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and former NIH Director, said, "I am proud to have recruited Steve Hyman to the Directorship of NIMH and I have enjoyed watching him perform magnificently in that position. He helped to bring modern science to the study and treatment of mental illness and he fostered cooperative ventures among the neurologically-oriented institutes of NIH. His departure will be a very significant loss for NIH."

Under Hyman's leadership, NIMH collaborated with the White House and the Office of the Surgeon General on several reports and conferences on the mental health of the Nation and its children. NIMH outreach efforts ranging from town meetings around the country to an award-winning web site and publications also helped to inform and raise public awareness and understanding of mental illness.

"My goal for NIMH was to make sure that it joined the mainstream of biomedical and behavioral research," Hyman said. "Working with a very talented staff, I believe we have become leaders in such critically important areas as the genetics of complex disorders, translation of basic neuroscience and behavioral science into clinical research, and conducting clinical trials that are increasing the relevance of research to real patients in real world settings."

Hyman said he is also proud of the leadership role NIMH has played in protecting vulnerable individuals who have volunteered for clinical research, advancing research and treatment of mental disorders in children, and increasing the part played by consumers, families, and front-line providers in priority setting and activities of the Institute.

During his tenure as director of NIMH, Hyman also directed an NIH research program in molecular neurobiology to study how the neurotransmitter dopamine regulates gene expression in neurons in the brain. He returns to Harvard where he studied, taught, and directed several programs including the Interfaculty Initiative on Mind/Brain/Behavior before leaving for NIMH.

His work at NIMH has set the foundation for continued research progress to improve conditions of the mentally ill in America.