ARPA-H: High-risk, high-reward health research is the mandate of new, billion-dollar US agency

A new multibillion-dollar federal agency was created with a goal of supporting “the next generation of moonshots for health” in science, logistics, diversity and equality. And the agency now has it’s first leader, as President Joe Biden announced Renee Wegrzyn as director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, on Sept. 12, 2022.

Since the announcement of the intention to establish ARPA-H two years ago, this new agency has sparked interest and questions within both academia and industry.

I have been a director of innovation-driven health institutes for decades and have worked with many of the government agencies that fund science. I and many of my colleagues hope ARPA-H will become an agency that can quickly turn scientific discoveries into real-world advances to detect, prevent and treat diseases like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. But questions still remain surrounding how it will work and what makes it different from other government-funded agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.