ARPA-H Authorization Bill Introduced in the House

On October 15, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee within the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, introduced the Advanced Research Project Agency-Health (ARPA-H) Act (H.R. 5585), a bill authorizing the agency that has been a key priority in the Biden Administration’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2022 (see previous coverage). Notably, the bill would not establish ARPA-H within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as the White House and some appropriators in both chambers have proposed, but rather within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), setting up a potential conflict between appropriators and authorizers on where to house the new agency.

Some key items in the legislation include:

  • An authorization of $3 billion for a new Health Advanced Research and Development fund to support the work of ARPA-H and a requirement for future ARPA-H budget requests to be delivered separately from the rest of the HHS budget. (See the related article for information on the funding levels proposed by House and Senate Appropriations Committees.)
  • The establishment of the ARPA-H director as a presidentially-appointed position with a five-year term. The director would be responsible for approving project funding and coordinating with other federal research agencies.
  • The establishment of an ARPA-H Interagency Advisory Committee comprising of leadership from other major health and research agencies.
  • Language emphasizing the agency’s role in addressing health equity and disease burden, as well as the “high risk, high reward” nature of the research to be funded.

A press release on the bill’s introduction is available on Rep. Eshoo’s website.

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