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NIH Announces New Director of Mental Health

Cate Douglass
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced the newest addition to its team. Joshua A. Gordon, MD, PhD, will join the NIH in September as the director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced the newest addition to its team. Joshua A. Gordon, MD, PhD, will join the NIH in September as the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The announcement of his selection comes nearly 1 year after the former director stepped down from the post in September 2015.

Gordon’s primary responsibilities entail overseeing the agency’s research on mental health, which includes a $1.5 million budget and supports more than 2000 research grants and contracts at universities and other institutions across the United States and the globe.

“Josh is a visionary psychiatrist and neuroscientist with deep experience in mental health research and practice,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, said in a statement. “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 is joining the NIMH after serving as an associate professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and research psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He also served as the associate director of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute Adult Psychiatry Residency Program, which gave him the responsibility of overseeing the neuroscience curriculum and administering research projects to residents.

During his time in New York City, Gordon’s research primarily focused on the analysis of neural activity in mice carrying mutations in connection with psychiatric disease. He employed an integrative neuroscience perspective that allowed him to focus on understanding how specific mutations lead to particular behaviors. His work directly related to a number of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and depression, and through the various lab studies, Gordon was able to run a general psychiatric practice in which he cared for the patients studying in his lab who suffered from mental illness.

Gordon’s announcement comes after the former director, Thomas R. Insel, MD, stepped down to pursue a career path on the Google Life Science’s Alphabet team. The team is a part of Google’s larger venture into the healthcare industry and its main focus is in creating new technology aimed at furthering the advancement of early detection, prevention and management tools for serious health illnesses.

During Insel’s time at NIH, he was instrumental in leading several initiatives that examined the genetic foundations of mental health illnesses and aimed to enhance the diagnosis, intervention and treatment for individuals. He said during his resignation that he was leaving NIH in good hands.

“I chose this moment because I wanted to leave at a high point: for the first time in many years we have a complete and completely outstanding leadership team at NIMH, we have excellent engagement from the advocacy community, we have unprecedented support from Congress, and we have an inspiring strategic plan,” Insel said in a statement at the time. “I want to step away at the best of times with all signs pointing to a bright future.”

 
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