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To Get ARPA-H Going

With $1 billion in funding, a new federal biomedical research agency aimed at funding riskier research could get up and running soon, Science writes.

Last spring, the Biden Administration's budget proposal included $6.5 billion within the National Institutes of Health budget to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, a health agency in the same vein as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to tackle riskier research projects.

Though the recent spending bill only includes $1 billion over three years for ARPA-H, Francis Collins, the acting White House science advisor and former NIH director, tells Science is enough to launch the agency. The first steps, Science says, will be to determine whether ARPA-H should be placed within NIH or be a separate agency and to choose a director.

Collins tells Science that placing ARPA-H within NIH would enable it to draw on NIH experience to get established, though others say the agency should be separate so that it is not influenced by NIH's more risk-adverse mindset. Science notes Health and Human Service Secretary Xavier Becerra had 30 days to decide.

Collins further tells Science that a director for the agency could also be chosen rather quickly and a number of names have been bandied about. Experts tell Science that someone with experience in academia, industry, and philanthropy as well as in translational research would likely be a good fit.

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