On August 16, PAA President Dr. Robert A. Hummer participated in a listening session (Listening Session 10: Advocates for Research on Neurology and Mental Health) that the White House Office and Science Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director sponsored to solicit input from the scientific research community regarding President Biden’s proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H).
As the Administration has stated, ARPA-H will be structured as a new division within the NIH, but with a “radically different culture and organization.” Modeled after the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA), ARPA-H will “embrace a model of innovation and accountability and support transformative research projects that could be applicable across many diseases and conditions.” In June 2021, OSTP Director Dr. Eric Lander and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins published an article in Science describing their vision for ARPA-H.
In his prepared remarks, Dr. Hummer urged the Biden Administration to ensure ARPA-H staff includes individuals with expertise in the behavioral and social sciences, including the population sciences. Dr. Hummer also cited examples of major projects that could be good candidates for ARPA-H support and advance the population research field: improving understanding of the multi-level determinants of health across different sub-populations in the United States and the development of enhanced measurements of structural racism for research on health disparities.
On July 30, former PAA President Dr. Kathleen Mullan Harris delivered remarks at another listening session, “Advocates for Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and Nursing.”
Congress has yet to approve and fund the ARPA-H proposal. However, the Fiscal Year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill that the U.S. House of Representatives passed earlier this month would provide the ARPA-H with $3.5 billion. PAA is monitoring the deliberations and will continue to urge the Administration to consider how this new agency could support the population sciences and supplement and complement NIH-supported population research activities.