After 13 years as the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Dr. Thomas Insel is stepping down. While the NIMH conducts a national search for his replacement, Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., will serve as the acting director.
Insel served in the division of intramural research from 1980 to 1994 before becoming the director of NIMH in 2002. His research focus is on the neurobiology of complex social behaviors, and he is the founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.
In 2013, Insel authored a blog for the NIMH that pointed out the limits of a symptom-based diagnostic system like the DSM and launched an effort to reorient research away from DSM categories. He authored another NIMH blog, in the wake of the Harrow and Wunderkind studies on antipsychotics and schizophrenia, where he wrote:
“It appears that what we currently call “schizophrenia” may comprise disorders with quite different trajectories. For some people, remaining on medication long-term might impede a full return to wellness. For others, discontinuing medication can be disastrous.”
Insel is reportedly planning to join the Google Life Sciences team to lead an effort to create technology for the detection, prevention and management of mental health conditions.