Notice of Information on High-Priority Research Areas to Understand and Reduce Mental Health Disparities

Notice Number:


Key Dates

Release Date:   September 25, 2014

Related Announcements


Issued by

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


NIMH is issuing this Notice to highlight its interest in receiving grant applications focused on understanding and reducing mental health disparities. NIMH invites research that increases our understanding of the pathophysiology underlying differences in risk, symptomatology, and course of mental disorders; explores mechanisms through which race, ethnicity, experience, environmental context, and genetics produce risk and protection from mental disorders; identifies moderators and mediators of treatment (psychosocial and pharmacologic) efficacy and effectiveness; develops and tests targeted interventions for reducing mental health disparities; and enhances the scalability of existing interventions.  Areas of high priority include, but are not limited to, the following:

Basic Behavioral and Neuroscience Research

Research topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Targeted genotyping/sequencing in diverse populations for fine mapping of or discovery of new rare variants at loci associated with mental illness
  • Analysis of existing genomics data sets that further our understanding of the differences in risk architecture and/or specific risk loci underlying mental illness in diverse populations
  • Collection of additional family and/or case-control samples from diverse racial/ethnic groups for genomic studies of mental illness

Translational Research and Treatment Development

Research topics might include, but are not limited to the following as it relates to reducing mental health disparities:

  • Delineation of specific neural circuits contributing to one or more major mental disorders or subtypes of mental disorders
  • Development, testing, and validation of biological markers (e.g., genetic, proteomic, imaging) for diagnosing or detecting risk/vulnerability, onset, progression, and/or severity of adult mental disorders
  • Development of models to predict treatment response and vulnerability to side effects of psychotropic medications and approaches to prevent or ameliorate treatment-emergent side effects, e.g., delineate the mechanisms through which specific psychotropic medications produce adverse metabolic and cardiovascular events, and begin to develop models to predict which patients are at high risk for developing these complications
  • Identification of mechanisms (e.g., genetic, biological, behavioral, environmental) that confer vulnerability to psychiatric illnesses and develop early interventions (pharmacological and/or psychosocial) for reducing the likelihood of emergence and the severity of psychopathology
  • Evaluation of the safety and efficacy of novel mechanism pharmacological agents and/or behavioral interventions that target domains of psychopathology inadequately addressed by current therapies or prevention strategies

Services and Intervention Research

Studies in these areas should focus on the identification of mutable services- or intervention-related factors that can be targeted in strategies to reduce or eliminate disparities in mental health outcomes.  Of highest priority are studies that address significant knowledge gaps and show likelihood of clinically meaningful improvements in key mental health areas.  Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Systematic analysis of large data sets (e.g., data from clinical trials, naturalistically collected data from practice, etc.) in order to identify moderators and mechanisms that contribute to disparities in outcomes and inform the development of more targeted preventive and therapeutic interventions
  • Examination of mutable factors related to the current use, benefits, safety, financing and costs, and unmet needs for mental health care that may serve as targets for the reduction or elimination disparities in mental health outcomes
  • Identification of dissemination and implementation strategies of scientifically informed treatments and services that can reduce or eliminate disparities in mental health outcomes
  • Development and testing of technologically enhanced intervention and service delivery approaches to increase access to evidence-based mental health care for individuals in hard-to-reach remote communities
  • Development and testing of methods to quantify and track disparities in patient access to, engagement in, and quality of mental health care.

All requirements of the relevant Funding Opportunity Announcement would need to be followed in any application (and award) that proposes to develop and conduct a study on one of these high priority areas.  Possible funding opportunities that can be used to pursue these and other research activities include, but are not limited to:

  • PA-13-303, NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21)
  • PA-13-302, Research Project Grant (Parent R01)
  • RFA-MH-15-300, Exploratory Clinical Trials of Novel Interventions for Mental Disorders (R21/R33)
  • RFA-MH-15-310, Exploratory Clinical Trials of Novel Interventions for Mental Disorders (R33)
  • RFA-MH-15-320, Clinical Trials to Test the Effectiveness of Treatment, Preventive, and Services Interventions (R01)
  • RFA-MH-15-325, Clinical Trials to Test the Effectiveness of Treatment, Preventive, and Services Interventions (Collaborative R01)
  • RFA-MH-15-330, Pilot Effectiveness Studies and Services Research Grants (R34)
  • RFA-MH-15-110 , Longitudinal Assessment of Post-traumatic Syndromes (U01)
  • PAR-13-187 , Reducing the Duration of Untreated Psychosis in the United States (R01)
  • PAR-13-188 , Reducing the Duration of Untreated Psychosis in the United States (R34)

Please note that investigators interested in pursuing clinical trial research should review the NIMH Clinical Trials Funding Opportunity Announcements website: and NOT-MH-14-007 which announced that beginning with applications submitted for the June 5, 2014 submission date and all subsequent applicable deadlines, NIMH will not accept R01, R21, or R03  applications that include clinical trials of potential therapies for mental disorders, under the NIH parent R01 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) PA-13-302, NIH parent R21 FOA PA-13-303, and NIH Parent R03 FOA PA-13-304, and subsequent reissuances of these FOAs.  Specific guidance on application submission procedures are described in the notice

Applicants considering such an application are strongly encouraged to consult with NIMH Program Officials prior to submission.


Information related to the scientific areas covered by this Notice may be obtained by contacting:

Charlene E. Le Fauve, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-2847