Request for Information (RFI) NIMH Request Input on Incorporating Development and Environment into the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Matrix

Notice Number: NOT-MH-19-029

Key Dates
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Response Date: June 21,2019

Related Announcements
None

Issued by
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Purpose

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is interested in gathering expert advice regarding best practices for incorporating development and environment into RDoC-informed research. As a part of this effort the NIMH seeks input about potential avenues that have proved useful for investigators in their research. In addition, NIMH seeks ideas for communicating the importance of development and environment in RDoC-informed research.

Background

The NIMH launched the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative as an interdisciplinary framework for understanding and studying psychopathology in terms of dysregulation in basic behavioral, affective, social and cognitive dimensions. One important component of the RDoC framework comprises a two-dimensional matrix, which include rows that currently include six domains with associated dimensional constructs and columns that represent units of analysis used to interrogate the constructs.

The development of the RDoC matrix was the collaborative effort of leading scientists across multiple workshops to articulate and define the knowledge for each of the six domains (those workshops are highlighted here: see http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-priorities/rdoc/development-of-the-rdoc-framework.shtml and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2019/sensorimotor-domain-added-to-the-rdoc-framework.shtml).

In addition to the domains and units of analyses, two integral components of the RDoC framework that are crucial to understanding psychopathology are neurodevelopmental trajectories and the influence of the environment. As such, RDoC’s intent is to promote a systematic focus on development and the environment, which should provide better opportunities for investigating etiological and/or risk factors relevant to psychopathology. See: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/research/research-funded-by-nimh/rdoc/developmental-and-environmental-aspects.shtml for more information.

Explicit elements regarding developmental and environmental aspects were left unspecified in the original framework in an effort to provide maximum flexibility to investigators. However, this led to a perception that these two critical aspects were missing from the RDoC framework and/or were regarded as a secondary priority. In fact, environmental factors and developmental trajectories interact with all current domains and units of analysis. It has proved difficult to represent how these two critical factors relate to the rows (i.e., domains/constructs) or columns (units of analysis) in the RDoC matrix. Accordingly, NIMH now aims to update the framework so as to strike a balance between furnishing helpful guidance for research in these areas while avoiding a false impression that new elements or exemplars represent constraints on the range of potential research topics.

Information Requested

This RFI seeks input from stakeholders in the scientific research community and the general public.The NIMH seeks comments on any or all of, but not limited to, the following topics:

1. Ideas for how best to communicate the potential role of development and environment in RDoC-informed research.

2. Avenues that have proved useful for investigators to incorporate developmental trajectories and interaction with the environment into RDoC-informed research. Examples of RDoC-informed studies that investigate the impact of the environment or development on mental illness are particularly welcome.

3. Gaps or means to expand opportunities for developmental and environmental research informed by RDoC.

Responses

All responses must be submitted electronically by June 21, 2019, in the form of an email to RDoCAdmin@mail.nih.gov, using the subject ‘RFI: Development and Environment in RDoC’

Responses to this RFI Notice are voluntary. Submitted information will not be considered confidential. Responses are welcome from associations and professional organizations as well as individual stakeholders. This request is for information and planning purposes and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation of the Federal Government or NIMH. No awards will be made based on responses to this RFI. The information submitted will be analyzed and may be used for planning purposes. You will receive an electronic confirmation acknowledging receipt of your response, but will not receive individualized feedback on your submission. No proprietary, classified, confidential and/or sensitive information should be included in your response. The NIH and the government reserve the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any future solicitation(s).

We look forward to your input and encourage you to share this announcement with your colleagues.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Eric Murphy, Ph.D.
Division of Translational Research
National Institute of Mental Health
Email: RDoCAdmin@mail.nih.gov