By: Alondra R. Nelson, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Deputy Assistant to the President
Andrew M. Hebbeler, Principal Assistant Director for Health and Life Science
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a comprehensive compilation of federally funded monkeypox research. This is an important step forward in efforts to further improve federal research transparency during outbreaks and to be responsive to requests from the scientific community, and other stakeholders, to better understand the full breadth and spectrum of U.S. government-supported monkeypox research. By publishing this summary in the context of the current outbreak, we hope to catalyze deeper federal and non-federal scientific engagement to drive science and accelerate the domestic and global monkeypox response.
Before the first monkeypox cases emerged in the United States and other non-endemic countries earlier this year, the U.S. government supported a rigorous research agenda to better understand and identify effective approaches to combat monkeypox and other human threats in the orthopox virus family. Importantly, robust U.S. government investments in monkeypox and smallpox research and development have provided us with an arsenal of medical countermeasures, such as vaccines and therapeutics, which are undergoing evaluation for their potential to help curb the monkeypox outbreak and reduce human suffering.
Driving research to strengthen the response has been a priority since the first confirmed monkeypox cases in the United States. Today’s online publication of federally-funded monkeypox research projects builds on our earlier work to detail U.S. Monkeypox Research Priorities (July 21, 2022), open access to global monkeypox research and data (August 4, 2022), and advance ongoing federal monkeypox research (August 11, 2022).
To date, HHS has identified more than $300 million to support mission critical research activities across areas that improve our understanding of viral transmission and reservoirs, molecular epidemiology, and early stage MCM development. And even more funding support has been provided by other departments and agencies, which have stepped up to leverage their unique expertise and capabilities to accelerate the domestic and global response, including the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs, Energy, Defense, and State.
While these studies are poised to generate knowledge that will accelerate the global monkeypox response effort, further research is needed to fill priority gaps. Earlier this month, the Administration requested $200 million for this high priority research and development, and we support ongoing efforts by Congress to provide critical research resources to bolster our efforts to fight monkeypox.
Recognizing that this outbreak continues to evolve and critical knowledge gaps persist in our understanding of the monkeypox virus, this summary of research projects will be updated periodically as more is learned about the disease and the domestic and global response effort progresses.