Peer Review Committee Consolidation at the National Institute of Mental Health

Notice Number: NOT-MH-09-009

Key Dates
Release Date: April 3, 2009

Issued by
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), (


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) review branch has had five subcommittees of the National Institute of Mental Health Initial Review Group.  These subcommittees have been: Interventions Committee for Adult Mood and Anxiety Disorders (ITMA), Interventions Committee for Disorders Related to Schizophrenia, Late Life, or Personality (ITSP), Interventions Committee for Disorders involving Children and their Families (ITVC), Mental Health Services in MH Specialty Settings (SRSP), and Mental Health Services in Non-Specialty Settings (SRNS).  Since the 2005 establishment of these committees a number of changes in the scientific content and overall number of applications being referred to ITMA and ITSP have occurred leading to the plan to merge the ITMA and ITSP committees into the Interventions Committee for Adult Disorders (ITVA). These factors include:

  1. the decreased volume of applications coming to each former committee in recent years that diffused reviewer expertise
  2. review of  the basic and translational science underlying the disorders in question requires the presence of increased numbers of reviewers with appropriate targeted expertise and that this will be better accomplished in one committee versus two
  3. reviewer expertise in areas such as trial design, methodologies, and data analysis is more similar than not and can be concentrated in one committee versus two
  4. the perception that experts in the different disorders can learn from each other and support the investigator community regarding areas worthy of further exploration

Description of the Restructured Standing Committee

The Interventions Committee for Adult Disorders (ITVA) will review applications that propose the development, delivery and evaluation of treatments targeted at the full range of mental disorders in adults (i.e., over age 21).  There is additionally increasing interest in research that incorporates design elements to identify the underlying pathophysiology and biomarkers of disorders and related mechanisms of how treatments may work.  Moderators and mediators of treatment outcome are of interest and may be in the form of biomarkers, demographic variables, early response to active treatment, history of response or non-response to treatment, etc.  In keeping with the NIMH Strategic Plan, studies increasingly include a translational and/or mechanistic component typically in the area of psychophysiology, brain imaging genetics, etc.  Other core scientific issues involve the design and evaluation of the efficacy, effectiveness, and/or safety of various treatment interventions for mental disorders covering the full range of disorders from mood and anxiety disorders to schizophrenia, personality disorders and the unique aspects of mental disorders as they present in the elderly are covered.  Applications to be reviewed will typically involve treatments delivered separately or in combination with other treatments; the evaluation of treatment with regard to both short- and long-term outcome criteria; and research on how to improve the expert delivery of treatment interventions.  Interventions are broadly defined and may include psychotherapeutic treatments, psychopharmacological treatments, somatic treatments and combinations of these and may be delivered in traditional settings (e.g., office or clinic based, hospital, residential) or non-traditional settings (e.g., schools, worksites, law enforcement institutions, or medical service settings, including primary care).  Treatment as usual (TAU) or specific evidence based active treatments are frequent control conditions.  Multiple symptoms, disabilities, disorders (co-morbidity) and outcomes are addressed.  Aspects of intervention implementation, including fidelity, statistical approaches to addressing heterogeneity in populations and settings, and attrition are likely to be examined in these studies.  The committee devotes considerable attention to issues of human subjects’ protections and safety and inclusion of an appropriately diverse and representative sample. The committee reviews multisite R01, single site R01, R34, R21, R03, and K applications.

ITVA will have 24 authorized members: 22 scientific and 2 public participants.  Initial membership of ITVA would consist of existing members of ITMA and ITSP giving some preference to members who have recently begun service, and new members.  The restructured committee will hold its first meeting in June 2009 and will coincide with a number of other changes in peer review including a new scoring system and percentile base.


Inquiries regarding this notice may be directed to:

David Armstrong, Ph.D.
Division of Extramural Activities
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6138, MSC 9609
Bethesda, MD 20892-9609
Telephone:  (301) 443-3534
FAX:  (301) 443-4720

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