The NIMH’s newly announced Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) R01 represents another step toward getting money to young investigators and shortening the R01 application. Due February 3, 2009, the BRAINS R01 limits the unusual research plan to 10 pages …

The R01 applications in this program are distinguished from most other R01 research grants in that the applications: 1) incorporate a statement of career goals relevant to the mission of the NIMH, 2) include a discussion of previous research experience and achievements in addition to the research proposal, 3) include active participation of an external advisory committee, and 4) require demonstration of the commitment by the institution to actively support the research program development of the Principal Investigator. In this inaugural year, research projects proposed in response to this FOA will be expected to have a defined impact on understanding the developmental origins, trajectories, and effective treatment of mental illness.

… but definitely not the budget:

An applicant may request a project period of up to 5 years and budget for direct costs up to $1.625 million with no more than $400,000 in any single year.

Of course, they’re only funding 9 of these puppies in FY09.

Boy, it’s going to be a bloodbath here at Baby It’s Cold Outside, where the psychiatry dept alone would be ranked ~90th if it were a free-standing awardee institution (per 2005 ranking). This is a limited submission opportunity, so the NIMH is counting on med school deans to do the first level of triage for them:

Only one application per school or college within a university will be accepted.

Also no multiple PI option here. Oh, and who is an eligible BRAINiac?

Eligible Principal Investigators are individuals with faculty appointments that are tenure track or professional equivalent and who have fewer than 8 years of experience beyond their last terminal degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent) at the time of application or, for clinical investigators, fewer than 5 years beyond their last internship, residency, or fellowship. If the applicant is at an institution/organization that does not have a tenure track, he or she should hold an equivalent appointment. Ineligible individuals include federal employees, current and former Principal Investigators on NIH research projects (R01), sub-projects of program projects (P01) or research components of Center Grants (P50), or equivalent research grant awards. Those selected for the NIMH award may hold other early career awards, such as those from the McKnight Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust, or The Searle Foundation. Applicants will be expected to devote at least 50% time and effort to the award and have a long-term commitment to mental health research.

And a bit more on that 10-page narrative, which includes literature cited folks:

The pdf file for the Research Design and Methods section should include the following sections within the 10-page limit, in the following order, with the headings shown:

The challenge
The potential impact
The approach (limit to four pages)
The appropriateness of the BRAINS program
Investigator qualifications
Timeline (limit, half a page)

Preliminary data are allowed but not required. Bibliographic citations (references), figures, and illustrations may be included, but must fit within the 10-page limit.

Lots and lots of other fine print, so be sure to read this one carefully. Send those cards and letters seeking advice and clarification to:

Kathleen C. Anderson, Ph.D.
Division of Developmental Translational Research, NIMH
Telephone: 301-443-5944



  1. BB said

    Totally changes the meaning of RO1, no?
    Who will keep deans honest, (i ask of course from Ethically-Challenged U)?

  2. writedit said

    NIMH has given notice of its intent to reissue this RFA in September 2009, with an expected receipt date in November 2009. This RFA again targets ESI applicants, and

    For FY 2010, the BRAINS program will focus on the research priorities and gap areas identified in the NIMH Strategic Plan .

    For more info, contact Kathleen C. Anderson, PhD, NIMH Division of Developmental Translational Research, by phone at 301-443-5944 or via e-mail (usually the preferred initial mode of communication) at

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