Wednesday, March 5, 2014

NIMH to Implement New Strategy for Evaluating Psychiatric Research Proposals

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will make several major changes in the way it selects and funds clinical trials to advance the next generation of therapies for mental disorders. “[F]uture trials will follow an experimental medicine approach in which interventions serve not only as potential treatments, but as probes to generate information about the mechanisms underlying a disorder,” said NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D., in a new policy announcement. “In the current climate, with funding tight and clinical needs urgent, we will be shifting to trials that focus on targets as a way of defining the next generation of treatments.”

Investigators will have to identify a target or mediator on which the intervention must have some effect, as well as influencing symptoms, said Insel. Researchers will also have to move more quickly through the approval, recruitment, and completion processes. They must meet stringent transparency standards for trial registration, monitoring human protection, and posting their results. Finally, new clinical trials will not be supported under previous funding announcements.

“We believe that better outcomes will require a deeper understanding of the disorders,” he said. “These new clinical trials are designed to provide that.”

To read more in Psychiatric News about clinical trials in psychiatry, see the article, “Psychiatrist Norquist Chairs Outcomes-Research Project.”

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