NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University was awarded a $4.2 million federal grant to training mental health physicians, the university announced today.

With the money from the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, the Rutgers’ Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling is creating a regional Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, designed to implement the most recent treatment techniques, Rutgers officials said.

“One of the federal program's key goals is to expedite the transfer of evidence-based research into practice,” said Dr. Kenneth Gill, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling who will be the principal investigator for the grant.

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Gill said that on average there is a 17-year lag in implementing evidence-based research into practice in health care settings, and that delay often is longer concerning mental health.

As an example, Gill said, strategies exist for reducing homelessness, chronic unemployment, and unnecessary incarceration among people who are mentally ill, but those strategies are not being used.

The Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, to be located on Rutgers School of Health Profession’s Piscataway campus, will be one of 10 established nationwide through this federal initiative.

Work at the center will begin next month with conferences, train-the-trainer sessions, and online courses. It is expected to be fully operational in 2019.

The center's regional area of service includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where increases in depression, anxiety panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder have been reported in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, according to the university.

One focus of this center will be the needs of the Hispanic population, creating English and Spanish online repositories for information, materials and resources, the university said.

This is the second multi-million grant Rutgers has received in as many weeks. On Oct. 27, Gov. Phil Murphy that the university will receive $2 million for the establishment of the New Jersey Center on Gun Violence Research.

Former Arizona Rep. Gabriella Giffords, a survivor of a gun shooting, and her husband, Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and New Jersey native, attended a ceremony for the announcement about the grant.