Enter NIH’s own DARPA – ARPA-H is open for business

No money for energy? Warm yourselves with some billion-dollar biotech research!

ARPA-H is modeled after similar agencies that advance innovation in their sectors, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is known for contributing to achievements such as the internet, GPS and even Moderna’s vaccine for COVID-19. 

Stanford University

If you’re not familiar with DARPA yet, please see these posts first.

What all these ARPAs do is one thing: spend countless billions from public money to do research that’s later handed to private companies through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scam.
Universities used to provide these services, they still do to a smaller scale, but they can’t be as secretive and can’t be involved in some highly sensitive projects from a national security perspective.

ARPA-H launches path to speed public-private partnerships

February 10, 2023

The mission of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) is to advance better health outcomes for everyone. To realize this mission, innovations sparked by ARPA-H must be able to transition into the real world. Transition strategies are often left to the last phase of a program, which significantly reduces the likelihood of a solution to reach the people that need it. ARPA-H seeks to facilitate public-private partnerships for accelerating technology transfer and transition by launching an effort to form Partnership Intermediary Agreements (PIA) that will make transition resources available throughout the entire program life cycle.

“Since the launch of ARPA-H almost a year ago, we have been building the team, tools, and capabilities that each program manager will need in order to launch audacious programs capable of advancing the state of the art in health innovation,” said Renee Wegrzyn, inaugural director of ARPA-H. “The PIA capability is critical to ensure that incoming program managers can hit the ground running and pursue big challenges in health.”

A PIA is an agreement established with a nonprofit partner with deep commercial sector and transition expertise, to engage academia and industry on behalf of the government. Speed and flexibility are the two main advantages of PIAs. PIAs allow for novel approaches that mirror commercial practice to get solutions to market. PIAs are authorized under 15 U.S.C. §3715 to create public-private partnerships.

“We at ARPA-H care deeply about getting solutions to everyone, and this is a powerful tool to ensure those solutions survive in the wild,” said Craig Gravitz, director of ARPA-H’s Project Accelerator Transition Innovation Office (PATIO). “This ensures ARPA-H programs address the market dynamics that matter for success, early and often.” PATIO is ARPA-H’s transition and commercialization office and focuses on ensuring that technologies developed through ARPA-H programs are readily accessible and scalable.

ARPA-H’s PIA application is designed to be easy to understand and implement, enabling potential intermediaries from all eligible communities who may not have deep government expertise to rapidly submit.

The PIA application is now closed. Awards will likely be made approximately 30 days from release date.

Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D.

Director, ARPA-H

Dr. Renee Wegrzyn serves as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), appointed on Oct. 11, 2022, by President Joseph R. Biden.

Previously, Wegrzyn served as a vice president of business development at Ginkgo Bioworks and head of innovation at Concentric by Ginkgo, where she focused on applying synthetic biology to outpace infectious diseases – including COVID-19 – through biomanufacturing, vaccine innovation, and biosurveillance of pathogens at scale.

Wegrzyn comes to ARPA-H with experience working for two of the institutions that inspired the creation of the agency – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).


As a Program Manager in the DARPA Biological Technologies Office, Wegrzyn leveraged the tools of synthetic biology and gene editing to enhance biosecurity, support the domestic bioeconomy, and thwart biothreats. Her DARPA portfolio included the Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules, Safe Genes; Preemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE); and the Detect it with Gene Editing Technologies (DIGET) programs.

Wegrzyn received the Superior Public Service Medal for her work and contributions at DARPA. Prior to joining DARPA, she led technical teams in private industry in the areas of biosecurity, gene therapies, emerging infectious disease, neuromodulation, synthetic biology, as well as research and development teams commercializing multiplex immunoassays and peptide-based disease diagnostics.

Wegrzyn served on the scientific advisory boards for the National Academies Standing Committee on Biotechnology Capabilities and National Security Needs, National Academies of Science Board on Army Research and Development, Revive & Restore, Air Force Research Labs, Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the Innovative Genomics Institute. She holds doctoral and bachelor’s degrees in applied biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, was a fellow in the Center for Health Security Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative and completed her postdoctoral training as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in Heidelberg, Germany.

what a weird thing to say

With ARPA-H’s billions in Congressional funding and broad mandate to solve intractable health challenges, several audience members asked Wegrzyn what success might look like for the nascent agency.
In addition to accelerating breakthroughs in disease prevention and health care delivery, “We want to create tools and products that people want to use,” Wegrzyn said. “We want it to be so obvious to the rest of the world why ARPA-H is here. … So that’ll look like success.”
“And paradoxically,” she added, “success should also look like failure.” If the agency doesn’t experience failure, she argues, it may not be taking big enough risks.
Another key indicator of success for ARPA-H will be in its diversity — in the problems it solves, in the communities it serves and in the program managers it hires. Spreading the word to people around the world, including those in underrepresented communities, will be pivotal.

Stanford University


Policy Brief: ARPA-H: Risky or Revolutionary? The Challenges and Opportunities of Biden’s New Biomedical Research Agency

Soumya Somani1 
Rice University, Houston, Texas ​


Executive Summary

The acceleration of COVID-19 testing platforms and vaccine development has demonstrated the possibility of expediting research for similar biomedical breakthroughs. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) lacks a framework to regularly sustain this type of research. A new federal agency, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), offers a unique opportunity to capitalize on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and drive federal investment into high-risk, high-reward biomedical research. ARPA-H will mirror the flat bureaucratic structure of the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through the employment of independent project managers. ARPA-H is also unique in how it centers equity in the agency’s core mission. These unique traits could enable the agency to fill the gaps in current biomedical research under the NIH. Nonetheless, ARPA-H’s implementation is not without challenges: its incorporation within the NIH has raised concerns regarding its ability to specialize in high-risk research and the diversion of funding away from the rest of the NIH. These worries can be mitigated through the separation of ARPA-H and the NIH. Successful implementation of the ARPA-H framework would supplement current NIH work, diversify the US federal research strategy, accelerate promising breakthroughs, promote equity in health, and transform the nature of biomedical research in the US.

And this is not the last ARPA you’ll hear about.
We’re in a world of ARPAs.

To be continued?
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! Articles can always be subject of later editing as a way of perfecting them

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