Request for Information (RFI): National Institute of Mental Health Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Project

Notice Number: NOT-MH-11-007

Key Dates
Release Date: May 16, 2011
Response Date:  July 1, 2011

Issued by
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


Over the past several decades, an increasingly comprehensive body of research in genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral science has transformed our understanding of how the brain produces adaptive behavior and the ways in which normal functioning becomes disrupted in various forms of mental disorders. In order to speed the translation of this new knowledge to clinical issues, the NIMH included in its strategic plan Strategy 1.4: “Develop, for research purposes, new ways of classifying mental disorders based on dimensions of observable behavior and neurobiological measures.”

The implementation of this strategy has been named the Research Domain Criteria Project (RDoC) ( To achieve the goal of developing a research classification system based on genetics and neuroscience, NIMH will conduct a series of workshops over the next two years to develop consensus regarding basic broad domains of functioning (e.g., Cognitive Systems, Negative Valence Systems and specific dimensional constructs within the domains. The product of the workshops will comprise, for each construct: (1) a consensus definition, and (2) an annotated listing of state-of-the-art measures or elements at various units of analysis (e.g., genes, circuits, behavior) that could be used as variables to classify patients in clinical research studies. The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to elicit feedback about the RDoC project and to facilitate commentary from scientists and other interested stakeholders regarding both general and specific aspects of the RDoC approach.


The NIMH intends that the RDoC process be as transparent as possible. An internal NIMH steering group, advised by a small group of external experts, has created the initial draft RDoC framework and devised the list of candidate domains, constructs, and classes of variables (see following link). NIMH is issuing this RFI to seek input about all aspects of this first draft of the RDoC matrix and the overall RDoC process.  Following the end of the RFI comment period, the NIMH group will evaluate the comments and make changes as appropriate to domains, constructs, and the consensus workshop process.  The revised version will then be posted on the NIMH web site for ongoing commentary.  A detailed description of the current RDoC process, including specification of the initial framework and the candidate domains, constructs and variables, can be found at  This information will enable interested parties to respond more knowledgeably to this RFI.

NIMH welcomes comments regarding any aspect of the RDoC project – including, but not limited to:


Responses to this RFI are voluntary and will be kept anonymous.  Any identifiers (e.g., names, institutions, e-mail addresses, etc.) will be removed when responses are compiled. Only the processed, anonymized results will be shared internally with scientific working groups convened by the NIH, as appropriate. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response.  The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s).  As previously indicated, the NIH may use the information gathered to develop grant, contract, or other funding initiatives.

This Request for Information (RFI) is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), or individual NIH Institutes and Centers. The NIH does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government's use of such information.

How to Submit a Response
All comments must be submitted electronically to:  Responses to this RFI will be accepted through July 1, 2011. You will receive an electronic confirmation acknowledging receipt of your response, but will not receive individualized feedback on any suggestions.  Please indicate whether or not you want your comments posted to the NIMH web site. Otherwise; all received comments will be posted (unsigned).  Comments may be edited for civility before posting. No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or from the Government’s use of such information.


Specific questions about this RFI should be directed to:

Attention: RFI on Research Domain Criteria
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7123, MSC 9632
Bethesda, MD 20892-9632

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