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Advanced Research Institute in Mental Health and Aging

Funding Source

NIMH, R25MH119050

Project Period

8/1/19 - 7/31/24

Principal Investigator

Martha L. Bruce, PhD (Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic)

Project Summary

The overarching goal of the “Advanced Research Institute (ARI) in Mental Health and Aging” is to increase the number of early-career faculty successfully transitioning to independent investigators conducting high impact research in mental health and aging that advances all four strategic objectives of the NIMH Strategic Plan. The population is aging rapidly – in terms of longevity, absolute numbers and relative to other ages — both in the US and in much of the world. These demographic changes offer both challenges and opportunities for new generations of researchers to explicate the contribution of aging to mental illness and to reduce the personal and societal burden of mental illness in older adults. The number of investigators focused on mental health and aging is small relative the size of the scientific and public health challenges. ARI will provide early-career faculty a mentored, educational program to foster their transition to: Aim 1 (Independent Investigators) measured by obtaining NIH R01-level (or equivalent) funding and, secondarily, research funding through other NIH mechanisms or federal grant programs, and Aim 2 (Scientific Leaders) as evidenced by research mentoring, retention as active researchers, publications, academic promotion, participation in team science, and scientific service (e.g., NIH Study sections. The ARI national Mentoring Network is a multi-disciplinary team of senior and mid-career scientists with complementary skills which span the translational spectrum of brain, interventions and implementation science. The ARI Educational Program supports 16 early-career faculty (called Scholars) annually with each Scholar’s participating for two years. Key elements include: sustained mentoring focused on grant-writing and career development, consultation with biostatisticians, and professional development. The program includes an annual in-person Spring Retreat, structured long-distance follow-up, and web-based career development seminars. New features to this program include 1. enhancing the educational program with formal mentor training and resources for both Mentors and Scholars; and 2. building biostatistical consultation support through a mentored fellows program. Public Health Impact: The unmet mental health needs of older adults is a significant public health problem that affects not only those who suffer from mental disorders but their families, care providers, communities, and institutions that deliver and pay for care. The research challenge includes reducing the burden of mental illness in older adults while also explicating how the process of aging contributes to the risk, expression, and outcomes of mental illness throughout the adult life span. The capacity of research to meet this challenge rests largely on ongoing enrichment of the field with new independent investigators from across the translational spectrum with state-of- the-art training and innovative ideas. ARI will build this capacity by developing the next generation of independent investigators and scientific leaders conducting high impact research in mental health and aging.

Public Health Relevance

The “Advanced Research Institute (ARI) in Mental Health and Aging” is an educational program for early- career faculty designed to help them successfully transition to independent investigators. Key elements of the program include a large network of mentors, an annual Spring Retreat, structured long-distance follow-up.