Bruce Cuthbert

Director of NIMH's Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development (DATR), and Chair of the NIMH Research Domain Criteria Project

Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., coordinates the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project to develop neuroscience-based criteria for studying mental disorders. As of October 1, 2014, he assumed a position as Director of the NIMH’s new RDoC Unit, following five years as Director of the Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development (DATR). Dr. Cuthbert returned to NIMH in January, 2010 following four years as a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota.  He previously served as Chief of the Adult Psychopathology Research Branch at NIMH, after seventeen years on the faculty at the University of Florida. Dr. Cuthbert received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology and psychophysiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is known for his research on the psychophysiology of emotion, and translational research on the psychopathology of anxiety disorders. He was elected president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in 2004 and is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. 

The NIMH Research Domain Criteria Project: New approaches to classifying psychotic spectrum disorders.

Several factors have contributed to a renewed debate in recent years about the nature of schizophrenia. These include discussions about modifications to the criteria for the DMS-5 and ICD-11 revisions, data that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder do not "breed true," GWAS findings of common genetic risk among disorders, and endophenotype-based intermediate phenotypes that show considerable overlap across disorders. These factors accord with proposals that schizophrenia should be thought of not as a specific disease, but rather as a syndrome that represents one segment of a broad spectrum of serious mental illness. Testing such hypotheses requires a different approach to classification that transcends typical "disorder versus control" studies that preclude analysis of cross-cutting mechanisms. The NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project was initiated to develop an experimental classification system based upon functional, behavioral/cognitive dimensions and neurobiological measures of the neural systems that implement these functions. We describe the ways in which the RDoC framework is designed for evaluating research grant applications, with particular reference to its role in facilitating explorations of heterogeneity and co-morbidity that can lead to more precise diagnosis and treatment for psychotic disorders.