Making the transition from clinical training to basic research can be difficult for a young scientist; it's almost like starting a new career. With no research track record, getting established and obtaining funding loom as monumental tasks.

This was the prospect facing William Honer when he finished his psychiatry residency at Columbia University. Fortunately for Honer and others like him in the field of psychiatry, assistance was available. The Chicago-based National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) had begun only a year earlier, in 1987, to award Young Investigator grants to budding scientists.

"We want to stimulate the careers of bright, young people coming in," says Herbert Pardes, president of NARSAD's scientific council and director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from 1978 to 1984. NARSAD tries to fill in the gaps in the NIMH funding system with a streamlined application process. "We try to make...

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