Psychologists funded by the US government, already wary of congressional meddling in peer-reviewed federal research grants, say they are now concerned that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), their primary source of federal support, is curtailing funding for social and behavioral sciences, areas traditionally considered integral to basic research in the field.

Under a strategic reorganization plan that takes effect tomorrow (October 1), NIMH, one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will shift research funding to areas deemed to have the most relevance to public health issues, such as neurological diseases and major mental disorders. "We have a mission from Congress to focus on mental health," NIMH Director Thomas Insel told The Scientist. "There are areas we are trying to redirect, areas we need to look at more closely."

Officials at professional research societies say that starting about 6 months ago,...

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