Therapeutic Innovations for Mental Illnesses ITMM

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A major societal challenge: the world's leading cause of disability by 2020 (WHO) Mental illnesses are responsible for premature death (suicides, addictions, risky behaviour, somatic diseases). Because they affect one in five French people and affect young adults and children, these diseases pose a challenge for the future. 

The objective of this Challenge for therapeutic innovation for mental illness is to bring together different communities around a common issue in order to remove methodological (models, approaches, etc.), instrumental (imaging, data acquisition, etc.) and therapeutic (early diagnosis, prevention, prescription, treatment, support, etc.) barriers in the field of mental illness and behavioural disorders. All scientific perspectives (physical, chemical, technological, biological, societal) are concerned by this challenge.

Mental illnesses are accompanied by significant suffering for the patient and his or her loved ones and often result in social, family and professional disintegration. The economic and social impact is therefore considerable. While the role of the environment in responding to stress and disruption is increasingly recognised in the etiology of mental illness, the causal links remain unknown.
From a pharmacological point of view, since the appearance of the first neuroleptics in the 1950s, the first antidepressants in the 1960s, and then second-generation antidepressants in the 1980s, biological psychiatry has not undergone any major changes. However, recent technological advances (imaging, virtual reality, etc.) are opening up new perspectives in the treatment of these pathologies.

The objective of the Therapeutic Innovations for Mental Illnesses - ITMM challenge, launched in 2013 by the Mission for Interdisciplinarity of the CNRS around therapeutic innovation, is to bring together different communities around a common issue in order to remove methodological, instrumental and therapeutic barriers in the field of mental illness and behavioural disorders. Indeed, despite the efforts and resources deployed in the research centres, many questions remain unanswered and medical needs in this field remain unsatisfied today.

Scope: All scientific approaches (physical, chemical, technological, biological, societal) are concerned by this challenge, because it is a question of lifting locks of different natures:

- Methodologies: models, approaches, ...
- Instrumentation: Imaging, data acquisition, minimally invasive procedures...
- Therapeutics: early diagnosis, prevention, prescription, treatment, support, research into new molecules and targets, combination of active ingredients, etc.
- Human and social: economic dimension, ethical approach and values of individuals, social practices and contexts, individual variability.

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The challenge will help to promote the constitution of new networks of teams, coming from different disciplinary backgrounds but whose complementarity is necessary to work on these issues and bring out truly innovative projects.

A call for projects, what for?

As some major diseases can already benefit from significant and recurrent financial support through specific calls for tender or charitable associations, the CNRS has chosen to focus this challenge on the less sustained field of research on mental illness and behavioral disorders. Indeed, despite the
However, given the efforts and resources deployed in research centres, many questions remain unanswered and medical needs in this area are still unsatisfied today.

In this challenge, the CNRS wishes, through the interaction of disciplines, to promote therapeutic innovations:

■ Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to apprehend and characterize pathologies by
cause, the treatments, their effects, the conditions of their use and their psychosocial context.
NB: the scope of this challenge does not include neurodegenerative diseases.

■ By renewing the ethical approach to mental illness, including the values of individuals, their motivation to seek treatment and the consequences of their treatment.

■ By analysing the production chain of therapeutic innovation, questioning the conditions of innovation between academic, clinical and industrial research and patient associations, as well as the technical and financial stakes and the forms of market regulation.

Process for this call for expressions of interest

■ Phase 1
- Declaration of intention of the applicant, based on skills and expertise in the thematic field of the challenge, all disciplines combined (application form).
- Examination of the applications by the challenge selection and coordination committee which, after analysing the proposed contents and skills, will identify potential networks, from complementary disciplines, around a common issue.
After this first phase, candidates will be kept informed.

■ Phase 2
- organisation of workshops aimed at interdisciplinary exchanges, to help structure these networks in order to foster the emergence of original collaborative research project proposals: submission of projects.
- evaluation and selection of projects; the main criterion will be their relevance to the objectives of the challenge.

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The challenge selection and coordination committee hopes that the success rate will be higher than 50% of the projects submitted.
The duration of project support will be one year. After examination of the progress report, the project may be renewed. The annual amount will be between 100 and 150 k€.

The application form is available at the URL : http://www.cnrs.fr/mi/spip.php?article249

Challenges projects supported in 2013 and renewed in 2014 / Winners 2013 / Therapeutic innovations for mental illness 

To obtain information :

-Martine KNIBIEHLER: martine.knibiehler[at]cnrs-dir.fr (scientific correspondent for the challenge)
- Mission for interdisciplinarity: mi.contact[at]cnrs.fr

(Source: CNRS - May 2014)

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