The National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) major reorganization and increased focus on mental illness has some basic scientists afraid of being left out in the cold. APA and NIMH officials offer some suggestions for adapting to the changes:

  • Call a program officer. Peter Muehrer, PhD, chief of the NIMH Health and Behavior Research Branch, says that talking to researchers is the best part of his job. Branch chiefs and program officers at the institute can help scientists flesh out their projects and suggest changes that might help research better contribute to NIMH's mission, Muehrer says.

  • Peruse the NIMH Web site. The NIMH Web site--www.nimh.nih.gov-- contains details about the institute's reorganization and contact information for branch chiefs. The site also contains documents explaining what areas of basic science will be emphasized in the future.

  • Make the link to mental illness explicit. Paying lip service to potential applications no longer works, says Steven Breckler, PhD, APA's executive director for science. When writing a grant proposal, lay out a plan for linking basic research to interventions and show how the proposed project will contribute to that bridge.

  • Partner with clinicians. Collaborating with practitioners can help bench scientists learn--and answer--the kinds of questions that could lead to improved treatment for mental illness, Breckler says.

--S. DINGFELDER