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HHS Creates Office to Oversee New Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Department of Health and Human Services has found a home for the new Federal program that will manage Project BioShield and other bio-defense and bio-threat measures, HHS said yesterday.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said the program, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, will be run by the assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response, and its director will report to the assistant secretary of the HHS.
HHS said it is currently seeking an individual for this new position.
BARDA, which is slated to be funded with $1.07 billion through fiscal years 2006-2008, is not an agency. Rather, it a collection of powers and authorities created under the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act, which was enacted last December.
As GenomeWeb Daily News reported in February, BARDA was created in part to respond to the financial risks faced by bio-threat-technology companies, and is intended to reshape the contract culture to help them develop these technologies.
The new powers would help companies cover R&D costs that arise between National Institutes of Health funding ends and funds from Project BioShield or from commercialization begins — a three- to five-year period some call the “valley of death.”
HHS spokesman Bill Hall told GenomeWeb Daily News in February that BARDA is intended to “help some of these companies … get through that valley.”
Yesterday, HHS said BARDA will oversee contracting for “development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear agents, as well as manage the advanced development and procurement of medical countermeasures for pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases. … ”