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Call for Abstracts


The goal of this communication is to solicit abstracts for research projects focused broadly on perinatal mental health and associated comorbidities including addiction and trauma.  Abstracts will be considered for inclusion in a UMMS center grant application being submitted to the NIH.  Selected abstracts would be funded as pilot projects if UMMS is awarded the grant.


UMass, in collaboration with other state government and academic institutions, will be applying for a National Institute of Health (NIH) program project grant in response to the PAR-16-354 funding opportunity announcement (FOA; ). The NIH FOA is titled ‘Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) Discretion Centers’.

Lead by the UMass multidisciplinary and multi-principal investigator team of Nancy Byatt (Departments of Psychiatry and Ob/Gyn), Tiffany A. Moore Simas (Departments of Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics and Psychiatry), and Jeroan Allison (Department of Quantitative Health Sciences), our ALACRITY center would focus on perinatal mental health and improving the implementation and adoption of evidence-based treatments.

Perinatal depression (Major Depressive Disorder occurring during pregnancy or within one year of delivery) is a widespread condition, which complicates birth, infant and child outcomes. Perinatal depression affects upwards of 1 in 7 women, and is increasingly recognized as a major public health problem. As professional societies and policymakers recommend depression screening, they note that it must be accompanied by adequate plans to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Currently, the vast majority of women do not receive accurate diagnosis and treatment because there is dearth of evidence-based approaches to ensure adequate care. We must urgently develop innovative solutions to eliminate inadequately addressed perinatal depression and equip health care systems with interventions that allow them to better serve these vulnerable women and their children. Thus, we are proposing the UMMS Optimizing Psychiatric Treatment In MAternal mental health (OPTIMA) Center.  The OPTIMA Center seeks to promote and support trans-disciplinary teams of basic science, translational, clinical and mental health services researchers, health information technologists, health systems engineers, and obstetric and mental health stakeholders to engage in high-impact studies that will transform perinatal mental health care in the United States.

The ALACRITY funding mechanism will support an administrative core, a methods core, and 3 preselected and previously defined projects of R34 scope that are responsive to FOA RFA-MH-16-410 (pilot effectiveness trials for treatment, preventive and services interventions; ) and FOA PAR-15-323 (pilot services research grants not involving interventions; ), and other directly relevant projects. As part of the administrative core, the OPTIMA Center would fund 8 pilot research projects each lasting 1-2 years with budgets not exceeding $25,000 total. It is assumed that successful projects will attract additional funding from extramural sources.

Please see the Application Material for complete information and submission instructions.

Questions?  Please Tiffany Moore Simas

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