Joshua Gordon Named New Head of NIMH

Guest Post by Kayt Sukel

joshua gordonIn late July, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it had finally completed its nearly year-long search for a new director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., said that the agency had selected Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., currently an associate professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, to take the helm of the $1.5 billion federal agency governing mental health research, replacing former director Thomas Insel. He is expected to start in September.

 

In the press release announcing the selection, Collins said, “Josh is a visionary psychiatrist and neuroscientist with deep experience in mental health research and practice. He is exceptionally well qualified to lead the NIMH research agenda to improve mental health and treatments for mental illnesses. We’re thrilled to have him join the NIH leadership team.

Gordon, whose research program focused on integrative genetic models of psychiatric disease, spoke with the Dana Foundation about why he wanted to take on this new role in his career, the importance of collaboration and communication, and where he hopes to see the agency go under his leadership.

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Cerebrum Story Outlines Psychiatric Drug Development Crisis

Despite decades of research and billions of dollars invested, not a single mechanistically novel drug has reached the psychiatric market in more than 30 years. At the same time, the demand for psychiatric drugs has skyrocketed, according to Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager. Today, one in five Americans is currently on one psychiatric drug and mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are increasingly recognized by healthcare systems worldwide. But the really disturbing part is that people who need help in the form of new, innovative drugs are not getting it.

This issue is the focus of this month’s Cerebrum feature: “Psychiatric Drug Development: Diagnosing a Crisis” by Dana Alliance and Dana Foundation Board member Steven M. Hyman, M.D., to find out the history of psychiatric drug development, the reasons for its retreat, and the changes necessary to meet the growing demand.

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