Release Date: December 2, 1998


National Institute of Mental Health

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is seeking to broaden the range
of perspectives brought to the review of grant applications for treatment and
services research.  The Institute plans to add, as grant reviewers, persons who
have had experience with mental disorders � personally or as a family member,
service provider, policy maker, or educator.  The aim of this initiative is to
enhance the clinical and public health relevance of the scientific portfolio.

Grant review at the NIMH consists of two stages.  An initial review, conducted
by a Scientific Review Group, addresses the scientific merit of an application. 
Participation in this initial review traditionally has been limited to
individuals with demonstrated academic or research expertise in the scientific
area under consideration.  A second-level review, conducted by the National
Advisory Mental Health Council, considers the evaluation of the initial review
in the context of overarching considerations, including the public health
relevance of an application and its conformance with the Institute's scientific
priorities and related policies.

A workgroup of the Council has recently recommended a modification in this
traditional review process.  Following extensive consultation with researchers,
consumers, and Federal officials, this workgroup recommended the inclusion of
public participants in the initial review.  This recommendation is consistent
with the recent report from the Institute of Medicine that supports increased
involvement of the public in NIH research priority setting (see  The Council agrees that reviews will
benefit from the perspectives of public participants regarding the public health
relevance of an application and patient/consumer considerations that may
influence study design, feasibility of recruitment and retention plans, or
consent procedures.  The Report of the Clinical Treatment and Services Research
Workgroup is available on the NIMH home page at (see Recommendation 43).  The
Report will be published and available from NIMH in the near future.

In this initiative, the NIMH Scientific Review Groups considering treatment and
services research applications will include public reviewers.  Public reviewers
will be asked to read and provide written evaluations of the grant applications. 
(For additional information on the selection process for the public participant
reviewers, information is available on the NIMH Web page at  As planned, the public reviewers
will comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the application's public health
significance and/or innovation; on the feasibility of plans for recruitment,
retention, and follow-up of subjects; on outreach efforts to special populations;
and on issues pertaining to the protection of human subjects.  Public reviewers
will discuss the merit of the applications with other reviewers and vote on the
merit of each application discussed.

This inclusion of public reviewers will begin with treatment and services
applications submitted on or after the February 1, 1999 receipt date.


Inquiries concerning this initiative may be directed to:

Jane Steinberg, Ph.D.
Division of Extramural Activities
National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 9-105
Rockville, MD  20857
FAX:  (301) 443-4720

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