By Roberto Lewis-Fernandez
October 13, 2016

Roberto Lewis-Fernández is a professor at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Over the summer, the National Institute of Mental Health got its first new director in 13 years. As Joshua Gordon settles into the top job at NIMH, one of his primary tasks should be to respond to the widespread perception that the agency — the world’s largest funder of mental-health research, with an annual budget of approximately $1.5 billion — has lost sight of its most fundamental mission: finding ways to ease the burden of mental illness for those affected by it today.

For the past decade, an increasing emphasis on neuroscience research has eclipsed this public-health mission, leaving a research void that results in unnecessary and protracted suffering in our communities.