ASBMB statement on the Cures 2.0 Act

Nov. 30, 2021

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology said today that while it generally supports the Cures 2.0 Act — legislation designed to bolster scientific researchers affected by the pandemic and create a new health research agency — the organization has some concerns about the details of the plan.

“The ASBMB is grateful for the continued bipartisan support for the important work being done by scientists throughout the nation,” said Benjamin Corb, public affairs director for the society.  “The latest legislative effort to support the nation’s biomedical research enterprise, Cures 2.0, continues to address the needs of a research community that, like so many other industries, has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Earlier this month, U.S. Reps. Dianna DeGette, D-Colo., and Fred Upton, R-Mich, introduced H.R. 6000, also known as the Cures 2.0 Act, a comprehensive legislative effort that, if enacted, would speed the delivery of cures, treatments and innovations for American patients by establishing a new health research agency focused on high-impact, high-burden diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

The legislation also would authorize supplemental funding in the amount of $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $3 billion for the National Science Foundation (in addition to funds for other science agencies) to extend grants to research institutions, labs or individuals whose work has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Corb said the ASBMB strongly supports these provisions, as they are long overdue and needed to help researchers affected by the pandemic recover.  Importantly, he noted, these provisions originally were proposed in the Research Investment to Spark the Economy, or RISE, Act. That legislation, H.R. 5585, was put forth by U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.

While the ASBMB is largely supportive of Cures 2.0, Corb said, the society does have concerns regarding the bill’s plan for establishing and funding the new agency, the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Health (ARPA–H).

The Cures 2.0 Act, as written, would put ARPA-H within the NIH, whereas Eshoo’s plan would make it semi-autonomous.

In addition, Corb noted that the Cures 2.0 plan allocates more funding for ARPA–H than Eshoo’s plan does, and the society is concerned about sustainability. 

In a statement last month endorsing Eshoo’s plan, Corb emphasized that “ARPA-H should be strategically developed to supplement existing research efforts, not supplant funding and research priorities.” 

Today, Corb reiterated the society’s stance: “We prefer Eshoo’s ARPA-H design and hope that policymakers will work together to align the differences between the two bills to ensure that basic scientific research is unaffected by ARPA–H and to ensure that ARPA-H is its own agency."