Interview with Research Fellow Dr. Daiane Machado on the funding of her new NIMH funded R01

May 16, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Daiane Machado on being awarded a new NIMH funded R01. Read more about Dr. Machado’s project in our interview with her here:

1. What excites you the most about working on this project?
What excites me most about this project is the possibility of finding the mechanisms behind the association between cash transfers and better mental health outcomes. This would enlarge our way of seeing how economic stability and support can improve mental health around the world on a large scale. Especially during this chaotic time when so many people have been thrown into poverty or an even worse situation. I believe that scientific data when transformed into reliable information can bring change to the world and enable small needed revolutions. This is the reason why we do research.

2. I know you have been working towards this since before the pandemic but in what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic created a greater necessity for this work?
Our project has substantial importance for the current world context. The COVID19 pandemic has led to a severe recession in many parts of the world, increasing poverty and resulting in massive unemployment worldwide, with anticipated increases in suicides. Findings from our project, including forecast scenarios of the impact of the economic recession and of the mitigation effects of alternative Cash Transfers implementations, will be relevant to the debates currently taking place in various countries (including the US), and globally, on the response to the pandemic in times of economic crises; if cash transfers can decrease mental health problems among youth and reduce suicide, it could have a dramatic impact on saving lives. Evidence of universal strategy efficacy is more critical than ever. The findings of the investigations outlined in the current project will allow drafting an intervention for early mental health problems and suicide prevention among youth that can potentially be used worldwide, but especially in similar LMICs facing challenges with limited resources.

3. Who will you be collaborating with on this project (you could list people/institutions)?

  • From the department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School I will be working with Professor Vikram Patel and Dr. John A. Naslund
  • From the Center for Data and Knowledge Integration for Health – CIDACS/FIOCRUZ ( I will be working with: 
    • Professor Maurício Barreto
    • Dr. Elisângela S. Rodrigues
    • Dr. Luís Fernando de Araújo
    • Dr. Flávia Jôse Alves
    • Jacyra Paiva, MD
  • From the Institute of Collective Health (ISC) of the Federal University of Bahia and CIDACS/FIOCRUZ I will be working with Dr. Davide Rasella
  • From the Department of Statistics at Harvard I will be working with Professor Kosuke Imai, PhD

4. What advice do you have for early career researchers on applying to similar funding opportunities?

I would advise keeping their eyes on the NIH website, and others, to find opportunities. When you find a FOA, read it a thousand times until you fully understand what exactly they are looking for, draft your aims matching with their aims. Find experts to read and criticize your project as many times as possible. Spare at least three months to work on writing and rewriting until you get close to “perfection”. The full process takes a lot of time and energy, so it is better to take your best shot. They are highly competitive, so if you won’t have enough time maybe it is better to wait for the next call so you can give it your full focus. Participate in the NIH seminars regarding the FOA you are applying for, they are very useful, and the NIH personnel are very friendly, happy to explain to you the details and what they are expecting from the applicants. Also, if you have the opportunity, send them your draft, and ask them if it matches their interests and how you can improve it.

Finally, look for diversity in your team, the team experience must cover each of the topics you have included in your project. In my case, I am lucky to have on my side a strong team of experts but also of young scientists, excited to start this challenging but rewarding project. My hope is to sustain (and even increase) diversity during this 5-year project, including gender, race, age and sexual diversity. People from different backgrounds can bring multiple perspectives to the investigation, not only enriching it but also helping to reduce the risk of bias since you will have eyes from various viewpoints.