August 11, 2021
Earlier this summer, the Biden Administration proposed the creation of a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) at the National Institutes of Health. In the President’s proposal, ARPA-H would receive $6.5 billion to “drive transformational innovation in health research and speed application and implementation of health breakthroughs.” This is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and a similar program at the Department of Energy (ARPA-E), which allow program managers to direct funding decisions and support use-inspired research, directed at societal challenges, that is not pursued by private industry due to the uncertainty of rapid return on investment. The proposal has gained momentum on Capitol Hill as well, where House-passed appropriations legislation included $3 billion for NIH to develop the new agency. ARPA-H will require authorizing legislation and U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) released draft legislation in June to make ‘a new federal advanced research agency to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s and other difficult diseases a reality’.
Much has yet to be determined about the specifics of how ARPA-H will play out. The NIH and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) have organized a series of open and invite-only listening sessions to get feedback on the proposal. FABBS has been invited to participate in a STEM Community listening session on August 12 and also to present on behalf of the Friends of NIMH, a coalition which FABBS co-chairs, at the August 16 session with the National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Discussions during these sessions will influence the ultimate structure and aims of ARPA-H, making it critical for behavioral and cognitive scientists to be represented in the ideas.
Have a concern or proposal for ARPA-H? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.