Modifications to the NIMH Special Council Review Procedures
Notice Number:
NOT-MH-22-030

Key Dates

Release Date:

October 22, 2021

Related Announcements

NOT-OD-12-140 - Notice of NIH Special Council Review of Research Applications from PDs/PIs with More than $1.0 Million Direct Costs in Annual NIH Support

Issued by

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Purpose

This Notice announces modifications to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) procedures for conducting Special Council Review (SCR) which pertains to well-funded Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) [PD(s)/PI(s)] submitting applications to NIMH. The new procedures require additional considerations be applied to applications requiring special review by the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC).

Background

In September 2012, NIH implemented the SCR policy (NOT-OD-12-140) to help manage resources whereby Advisory Councils are required to provide additional review of new and renewal applications from investigators already receiving $1.0 million or more in direct cost for NIH Research Project Grant (RPG) funding. The 2012 NIH policy allows for the development of institute-specific variation of the SCR policy in consultation with individual Councils.

The NAMHC discussed the NIH policy at its January and May 2021 meetings, and approved the modified procedure described here at the September 2021 meeting. The goal of this modified procedure is to manage resources more effectively, allowing the Institute to fund a larger, more diverse group of investigators by reducing the concentration of funding, while simultaneously continuing to support unique opportunities for highly promising work that is not otherwise represented in the NIMH portfolio.

NIMH Procedure

Effective with applications under funding consideration at the January 2022 meeting of the NAMHC, NIMH will implement additional considerations when reviewing applications from exceptionally well-funded investigators. NIMH is defining exceptionally well-funded investigators as investigators already receiving more than $1.9M total costs (approximately $1.2M direct costs) at the time of NAMHC review. These additional considerations do not change the NIH definition of SCR and do not modify the types of applications subject to the SCR policy.

Applications with primary assignment to NIMH from exceptionally well-funded PD(s)/PI(s) (as defined above) will need to meet one or more of the following additional conditions to be considered for funding:

  • The application under SCR received an exceptional score – defined as an application scoring below the 5th percentile OR equivalent score for an application that does not receive a percentile.
  • The application under SCR is in a clear high-cost research area and involves significant time commitment (typically >= 4 calendar months effort) from each PD/PI.
  • The focus of the application under SCR is a high priority research area for NIMH and proposes a unique research approach.
  • The application under SCR enhances workforce diversity, defined as:
    • Investigator(s) with a unique perspective (career stage, discipline, and professional and personal experience);
    • Unique institutional factors (e.g., undergraduate focused, minority-serving, community-based, IDEA-state status);
    • Partnership(s) with geographic and regional heterogeneity; and/or
    • Substantial evidence of training and/or mentorship of a diverse workforce.

Note that meeting one or more of these criteria does not guarantee funding. These considerations will be assessed as part of the programmatic recommendations for funding decisions; further consideration for funding will require NAMHC concurrence. Applications may be considered for funding at a later date if the PD(s)/PI(s)’s total funding subsequently drops below the $1.9M Total Costs (~$1.2M Direct Costs) threshold.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Tracy Waldeck, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Email: tracy.waldeck@nih.gov