September 22, 2022
President Biden has selected Dr. Renee Wegrzyn to serve as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). Dr. Wegrzyn is a biologist who currently works as the vice president of Ginkgo Bioworks, a biotechnology firm based in Boston.
She has held key positions at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (I-ARPA). As an independent entity, ARPA-H will seek to increase the pace of health research, with a focus on prioritizing high-risk, high-reward research that has breakthrough potential. The intention is to specialize in funding health solutions that do not fit existing government programs or have been implemented by the commercial sectors, due to the high-risk nature of the research. Companies require its investments to provide profits and government institutions, due to limited funding, favor research that has a higher likelihood of success.
Efforts to stand up ARPA-H began in the summer of 2021 (see our previous coverage here). FABBS has been grateful for the opportunity to have a seat at the table at several listening sessions and stakeholder meetings. FABBS has been actively engaged communicating the essential role of the behavioral and brain sciences to improve health and encouraging the sciences to be incorporated into the fabric of ARPA-H.