ASBMB endorses H.R. 5585 establishing the Advanced Research Projects for Health-Agency

Nov. 17, 2021

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology endorses H.R. 5585 the Advanced Research Project Agency-Health Act introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health agency (ARPA-H) and ensuring its autonomy and independence. 

In his remarks to the joint session of Congress in April, President Biden called for the creation of the Advanced Research Projects for Health agency “to develop breakthroughs to prevent, detect and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer.” The creation of this agency could lead to extraordinary scientific breakthroughs, but as the ASBMB outlined in a comment letter to Congressional leaders in July, the research strategy, structure and funding of ARPA-H must be clearly outlined to ensure its success. 

“There is little doubt that a DARPA-like agency focused on health research can lead to breakthroughs in biomedical research that can save the lives of potentially millions of Americans,” said Benjamin Corb, public affairs director for the ASBMB. “There is, however, concern over the organization, funding and focus of such an agency.  ARPA-H should be strategically developed to supplement existing research efforts, not supplant funding and research priorities.” 

Rep. Eshoo’s bill focuses ARPA-H's research strategy on badly needed cures, high burden diseases and health equity. This bill also encourages ARPA-H to coordinate with other science funding agencies and requires the agency to submit progress reports and strategic plans to Congress.  

Said Corb, “We applaud Rep. Eshoo for authoring this bill that will ensure that the success of ARPA-H doesn’t come at the expense of baseline established research goals and priorities and we look forward to working with policymakers on this issue.”