Congress Establishes Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health

March 24, 2022

In passing Fiscal Year 2022 government funding legislation, Congress took the next step toward creating an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), as proposed by President Biden. The initiative offers nimble funding mechanisms to support research efforts aimed at specific applications. Biden pushed for the new agency as a way to more quickly and effectively “develop breakthroughs—to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.” 

The Omnibus budget provided $1 billion over three years for the new agency. The language allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine whether ARPA-H will be a standalone agency or placed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The placement of the agency has been a topic of significant debate in Congress, where members of Congress are still considering authorizing legislation that would provide additional guidance for the new agency. 

The Administration must now take steps to launch the agency, including by hiring staff and appointing a Director. It will likely take some time before the agency is up and running and able to give awards. FABBS encourages behavioral and brain scientists to pay attention as ARPA-H takes shape, as it presents significant new funding opportunities and flexibility for innovative interdisciplinary research. FABBS will be working to ensure that our fields are represented and that our scientists are educated about new opportunities.

FABBS played an active role, as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and NIH sought input over the past year to inform plans for the new agency. This past summer, FABBS participated in OSTP discussions and provided comments during an NIH listening session , in our role as a co-chair of the Friends of the National Institute for Mental Health. FABBS will continue to work with the broader community to provide input to the Administration and disseminate news and opportunities from ARPA-H.