Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Supporting Research Education in High-Priority Intervention and Services Research Areas for Mentoring Networks for Mental Health Research Education and Short Courses for Mental Health Related Research

Notice Number: NOT-MH-20-041

Key Dates
Release Date: April 8, 2020
First Available Due Date: May 26, 2020
Expiration Date: May 26, 2022

Related Announcements

PAR-20-080 NIMH Mentoring Networks for Mental Health Research Education (R25 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
PAR-20-096 NIMH Short Courses for Mental Health Related Research (R25 - Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Issued by
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Purpose

This notice serves to inform the mental health research community of NIMH interest in receiving grant applications that utilize the NIMH R25 Research Education Grant mechanisms to support Mentoring Networks for Mental Health Research Education (Networks) and Short Courses for Mental Health Related Research (Short Courses) to promote research education in high priority areas in intervention and services research.

Mentoring Networks may be national or regional. All proposed networks should provide significant new opportunities, and should comprise efforts substantially beyond any ongoing mentoring, networking, or research education within academic programs, institutions, or pre-existing networks; or educational collaborations among institutions. Participants in proposed mentoring networks are limited to graduate/medical students, medical residents, postdoctoral scholars, and/or early-career faculty.

Short Courses support creative educational activities with a primary focus on courses for skills development. Proposed short courses are expected to facilitate the development of a cadre of sophisticated investigators with the requisite scientific research skills to advance the mission of the NIMH in innovative new directions. Each short course is expected to include both didactics and hands-on research experiences. Network and Short Course experiences are expected to enhance the participants' professional development and to foster their career trajectories towards independent mental health research.

NIMH encourages applications from established, senior investigators with robust research and mentoring track records to apply. Applicant PIs should identify a strong set of faculty mentors and/or instructors associated with the R25 to provide mentoring and/or to teach the short course, respectively. To advance both clinical research and practice, NIMH encourages research education programs that provide interdisciplinary mentorship and collaborations among clinical researchers and researchers in allied and emerging fields (e.g., behavioral and social scientists, health information and communications technologists, health systems engineers, decision scientists, computational scientists), through intensive workshops, virtual mentoring networks, experiential learning, and other innovative research education models.

NIMH is interested in programs that will prepare Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) to employ a range of state-of-the art approaches to research projects conducted in diverse settings and involving diverse populations. The overarching goal is to develop a cadre of ESIs prepared to apply for individual awards [e.g., NRSA fellowship awards, mentored career development (“K”) awards or Research Project Grant (RPG) awards] from NIMH. NIMH also encourages research education programs that seek to facilitate the career progress of promising scientists at key transitions such as the transition from a career development award to the first independent RPG, in order to ensure they are prepared to leverage state-of-the art/emerging approaches to pursue innovative programs of research in high-priority areas and to promote their retention in research careers.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to contact the Scientific/Research Contact for this NOSI. Dr. Lauren Hill at hillla@mail.nih.gov to discuss both the format/structure of the proposed R25 training program and the match to NIMH priorities, as early as possible prior to applying.

Examples of high-priority areas include, but are not limited to, the topics described below. For some topic areas, links point to additional sources of information (e.g., Funding Opportunity Announcements, Council Workgroup Reports) that further detail priorities in the given topic area. Note that while some of these linked references (e.g., Funding Opportunity Announcements) address priorities for research project grants, R25 Research Education mechanisms should be used to prepare ESIs to conduct research in these areas.

  • Children/Adolescents with Serious Emotional Disturbance, Transition Age Youth and Adults with Serious Mental Illness. Priority research education areas include but are not limited to:
    • Reducing Health Disparities, including disparities in access, utilization and quality of mental health services related to race, ethnicity, geography, sexual and gender minority status and/or socio-economic status, to improve outcomes in populations impacted by health disparities in diverse United States communities.
    • Effectiveness of Community Programs and Supports for people with mental illness across the lifespan, including development and testing of innovative strategies to: reduce housing instability; maintain engagement in treatment, employment and school; engage families and other community supports in optimizing independent functioning; address issues related to transition to community from institutional settings (e.g., hospital, jail, prison) and explore uses of technology and systems-level interventions to improve functional outcomes.
    • Strategies to reduce justice system involvement, including scalable approaches to reduce unnecessary incarceration among juveniles and adults with serious mental illness and for optimizing the capacity for law enforcement and corrections systems to connect people with mental illness to treatment and services, including approaches with potential to address disparities.
    • Strategies to promote early access, engagement, and coordination of Mental Health services for youth. For examples, see the scientific text included in PAR-17-264 https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-17-264.html. Topics of interest include strategies designed to rapidly engage youth and families in needed treatment and services and to involve families and other treatment and service providers in order to optimize care and monitor the trajectory of mental health symptoms and outcomes over time. NIMH encourages innovative approaches to promote early access to care (e.g., early in life among young children; and early in illness trajectory among clinically high-risk adolescents to potentially reduce the duration of untreated psychosis). Other areas of interest include research on continuity, quality, equity, coordination and value of mental health treatment and services, and how to bring effective strategies to scale to maximize public health impact.
    • Innovative approaches to prevention, including state-of-the-science methods (e.g., use of digital technologies and other approaches for efficient, low-burden tracking and monitoring of long-term outcomes and potential “cross-over” effects; utilization of contemporary computational and/or data science analytic approaches to examine the impact of prevention exposure on distal outcomes), and the development and testing of scalable preventive interventions that can be feasibly and sustainably delivered with fidelity by setting providers in systems where preventive interventions are likely to be offered (e.g., pediatric primary care).
  • Suicide Prevention. Priority research education areas in suicide prevention include but are not limited to:
    • Understanding and detecting proximal risk, including ways to rapidly identify who is at greatest risk, to inform understanding of why people transition from suicidal thoughts to action, and to identify targets for novel interventions for rapid reduction of high-risk states.
    • Screening and prevention in healthcare settings/systems including Emergency Departments, including innovative approaches to detecting suicide risk (e.g., using novel, low-burden assessments; utilizing predictive analytics) within and between care systems, research to inform optimal timing of interventions (e.g., through examining the pattern of mortality outcomes subsequent to healthcare contacts), and interventions or system-level quality improvement strategies that can be used to reduce or eliminate suicide events. (e.g., see NOT-MH-17-031).
    • Preventing suicide in youth in contact with the criminal justice system, including strategies to detect and intervene to reduce the risk of suicide behavior, suicide ideation, and non-suicidal self-harm among youth at various points of contact within the juvenile justice system (e.g., police interaction, pre-trial detention, juvenile or family court interactions, parole and probation, and placement and on-going care in residential or other settings settings.) For more details, see the scientific text in PAR-18-479 https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-18-479.html .
    • Refining research methods and clinical protocols for rapidly acting treatments for youth and adults with severe suicide risk, including research on existing and novel interventions that can provide rapid and durable relief, ‘jumpstart’ recovery, and potentially reduce or pre-empt hospitalizations when delivered alone or in combination/sequence with other interventions to promote sustained recovery.
  • Autism Services for Transition-Age Youth and Adults. Priority areas include a range of strategies that respond to the need for empirically supported, high-quality, cost-effective services for adults and transition-age youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including strategies to ensure coordinated, continuous care during transition to adult services; services interventions to promote functioning among individuals with ASD (e.g., independent living skills and programs; educational, vocational/employment achievement); and strategies to support individuals and families in accessing and navigating complex multi-sector systems of care. For examples, see the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder 2016-2017 Update; Questions 4-7, at: https://iacc.hhs.gov/publications/strategic-plan/2017/ and RFA-MH-20-420 https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-MH-20-420.html or RFA-MH-20-421 https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-MH-20-421.html.

NIMH encourages Mentoring Networks and Short Courses to prepare investigators working across diverse priority areas to utilize state-of-the-science research methodologies/approaches, emerging technologies, and analytic/computational strategies to conduct innovative intervention and services research. Examples of high-priority areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Practice Based Research that leverages practice networks and other existing clinical/research infrastructure to conduct research with near-term potential to improve practice and promote continuously learning healthcare. This includes research that utilizes practice data (e.g., data from electronic health records) to inform timing and targets for preventive, therapeutic, and services interventions, and research that leverages partnerships with clinical practices to efficiently and rapidly identify, recruit and enroll large and diverse patient populations into prospective intervention and services research studies.
  • Digital Mental Health. Priority research education areas in digital mental health include but are not limited to:
    • Applications of digital health technology for clinical research and practice to improve the efficiency and accuracy of assessment (e.g., real-time, automated collection of behavior in natural environments via sensors for ambient monitoring, natural language processing for extraction from medical records or other recorded/written sources), to enhance the reach or boost the therapeutic value of interventions across a variety of conditions and illness phases, and to facilitate service delivery via patient-facing, clinician-facing, or systems-level applications that are designed to improve service access, engagement/continuity, quality, efficiency, equity, and value. For examples, see: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-MH-18-031.html and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/advisory-boards-and-groups/namhc/reports/opportunities-and-challenges-of-developing-information-technologies-on-behavioral-and-social-science-clinical-research.shtml )
    • Research collaborations between academic researchers and digital health technology developers to test strategies to increase the reach, efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of digital mental health interventions. Research is also needed to optimize existing technology and understand factors related to engagement and sustainability of digital health platforms.
  • Computational approaches for large data sets, including state-of-the art computational and/or data science analytic approaches that can be applied to data from various sources, including electronic health records (EHRs); public and commercial insurance claims and other administrative databases; smartphones, wearables, or sensors; internet, social media, or device use; social and economic datasets available for population health research; and publicly available datasets from the NIMH Data Archive and other repositories to advance mental health research. (see: PAR-18-929 https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-18-929.html and RFA-OD-19-011 https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/rfa-od-19-011.html)
  • Computational psychiatry and neuroscience provide a theoretical foundation and a rich set of technical approaches for understanding complex typical and atypical neurobehavioral systems, building on the theory, methods, and findings of computer science, psychiatry, neuroscience, and numerous other disciplines. The development of a new generation of transdisciplinary scientists is a key requirement for the field to be successful. NIMH encourages research education programs that provide interdisciplinary mentorship and collaborations between computational scientists and neuroscientists, through summer workshops, boot camps, and other innovative research education models.
  • Cross-disciplinary training to provide computational scientists with clinical training and clinicians with computational training is a high priority for NIMH. Research education programs should emphasize formal opportunities for exposure to a variety of theory-driven, data-driven and clinical approaches. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Models testing personalized treatments for reducing the severity and incidence of psychopathology by using biological markers (e.g., genomic, proteomic, and imaging) and deep-phenotyping patients
  • Translating basic computational models into clinical research by informing the models with experimental data from clinical populations
  • Multi-scale biologically realistic models of brain activity from molecules, cells, systems, to behavior to identify psychopathologi­cal phenotypes as new targets for therapeutic approaches
  • Understanding how individual differences in neuronal activity contribute to the transmission and processing of pathophysiological information in the central nervous system
  • Applying novel analytical and statistical approaches to biological data sets to identify patterns and relationships among variables that contribute to dysfunctional behavior
  • Biologically valid computational models to understand the efficacy (and/or failure) of psychopharmacology, biologics, neuromodulation, cognitive, and/or psychosocial clinical interventions
  • Applying innovations in data science and machine learning to understand how neural activity in widely distributed brain systems encodes mental states in psychiatric disorders across development

Applicants interested in other Institutional Training Programs https://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/training/institutional-training-programs.shtml (e.g., Research Education Programs specifically for psychiatric residents; T32 pre- and post-doctoral training) are encouraged to contact the NIMH Research Training contacts to discuss relevant funding mechanisms. A list of NIMH Research Training contacts is available via: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/training/contacts-for-research-training-and-career-development-programs.shtml

Application and Submission Information

This notice applies to due dates on or after May 26, 2020 and subsequent receipt dates through May 26, 2022.

Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcement through the expiration date of this notice.

  • PAR-20-096 NIMH Short Courses for Mental Health Related Research (R25 - Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
  • PAR-20-080 NIMH Mentoring Networks for Mental Health Research Education (R25 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:

  • For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-MH-20-041” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.
Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will be not be considered for the NOSI initiative.

 

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to the Scientific/Research, Peer Review, and Financial/Grants Management contacts in Section VII of the listed funding opportunity announcements.

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Lauren D. Hill
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-2638
Email: hillla@mail.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Examine your eRA Commons account for review assignment and contact information (information appears two weeks after the submission due date).

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Tamara Kees
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-8811
Email: tkees@mail.nih.gov