The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hosted a total of 15 listening sessions on the proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to hear from different voices across the community, and a new report released today summarizes what was heard.
 
ARPA-H is proposed as a new component of NIH that will benefit the health of all Americans by catalyzing health breakthroughs that cannot readily be accomplished through traditional research or commercial activity. It will embrace bold and high-risk, high reward solutions with the potential to accelerate disruptive progress across an array of diseases and conditions and at levels ranging from the molecular to the societal. The goal of the listening sessions was to understand the opportunities and barriers to accelerating biomedical and health research breakthroughs from the perspectives of patient advocates, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, professional societies, the academic research community, industry, and others.
 
The report on the listening sessions provides an overview of the feedback and suggestions received from over 5100 stakeholders, including nearly 250 organizations, from across the country. Several themes that focused on two key areas emerged:
 
Scientific Portfolio

  • Ensure the programs ARPA-H develops complement NIH’s existing research portfolio, as well as other biomedical research funders, and does not duplicate it.  
  • Elevate the importance and criticality of addressing health inequities and promoting health equity across all aspects of ARPA-H – from the people it hires to the programs it develops.
  • Advance technologies and platforms that are broadly applicable across the spectrum of biomedical and health research and avoid focusing on disease-specific programs.
  • Accelerate data accessibility, integration, interoperability, sharing, standards, and tools, and leverage artificial intelligence (AI) in creative ways.
  • Focus on de-risking commercialization and translation to push products closer to market in areas with high unmet need and that are not well-supported by industry to bring new therapeutic and diagnostic options to patients rapidly.

 Process

  • Integrate the community, patients, and their providers early in the program development process to ensure the end-users’ perspectives are considered in program design and implementation.
  • Promote and prioritize multi-disciplinary collaboration and partnerships – from drawing in scientists from other disciplines (e.g., physics, economics, sociology) to working with industry, academia, non-profits, and others.

 As the formulation and development of ARPA-H evolves, OSTP and NIH will consider this feedback and more. A listening session will be held on October 20, 2021 from 2:30 – 4:00 pm ET to provide the community a forum for responding to the summary, including what was missing and what should be modified, and how ARPA-H can engage effectively with stakeholders. Comments or questions may be submitted to ARPAHcomments@nih.gov in advance of the session. More information about this event will be posted on the OSTP and NIH sites as it comes available. In the meantime, please review the frequently asked questions, which provide additional insight into the planning for ARPA-H.

More on the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health: The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) was proposed as a component of the President’s fiscal year 2022 budget, with a requested funding level of $6.5 billion available over three years, to revolutionize how we prevent, treat, or cure a range of diseases. For more information on ARPA-H, please click here.

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