President Biden Proposes Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H)

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The president's request for fiscal year (FY) 2022 emphasized the Biden-Harris administration's strong support of and commitment to medical research and scientific innovation. While the president's complete budget will not be finalized by the start of the annual congressional appropriations process, typical during a presidential transition, the administration's proposal for discretionary funding in FY22 still provides useful insight into key administration priorities.

The administration proposed increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to $51 billion, a $9 billion increase over FY21 levels (1). A significant portion of that increase would go to establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H); President Biden first showed signs of supporting such an agency in 2019 on the presidential campaign trail. ARPA-H is envisioned to be housed within NIH and command a budget of $6.5 billion to “provide significant increases in direct Federal research and development spending in health” (2). ARPA-H's creation would be one of the largest increases in scientific research funding by the government in decades (3).

This new agency is believed to be charged with aggressively pursuing high-risk, high-reward technologies and therapies similar to the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), after which it was modeled. While much still needs to be learned about ARPA-H as it is created, President Biden described the agency during his joint address to Congress on April 28, 2021, stating, “It would have a singular purpose: To develop breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cancer” (4).

As ARPA-H is developed, ASN will advocate to the White House and NIH that sufficient resources be dedicated to programs within the agency that address kidney diseases and the needs of kidney patients. ASN will also continue to engage the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to advocate for federal agencies and programs that promote translational research and prioritize medical and scientific innovation such as NIH and ARPA-H during the congressional appropriations process.

ASN will continue to provide updates on the policies and priorities of the Biden-Harris administration that affect kidney health professionals and the patients they treat.