In a joint address to Congress last night, President Biden updated the nation on vaccination efforts and outlined the ambitious goals of his administration.
Biden’s first 100 days are characterized by extensive legislative packages that could lift millions of Americans out of poverty and slow the climate crisis clock, but during his first joint speech to Congress, the president gave another short Highlighted the plan that is no less ambitious: “The end of cancer as we know it.”
“I can think of more worthy investments,” Biden said Wednesday night. “I don’t know anything that’s more bipartisan …”. It is within our power to do this. “
Comments were not out of the blue. Earlier this month, the White House issued a $ 6.5 billion budget request to launch a new government agency for breakthrough health research. The proposed health agency will be called ARPA-H and will remain within the NIH. The initial focus will be on cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, but the agency will also pursue other “transformational innovations” that could make a remake of health research.
The $ 6.5 billion investment is a slice of the full $ 51 billion NIH budget. But some critics believe that the ARPA-H should sit under the Department of Health and Human Services rather than being nested under the NIH.
The ARPA-H will be designed after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which develops moon-like technologies for defense applications. DARPA’s goals often sound more like science fiction than science, but the agency has contributed to or created many now ubiquitous technologies, including a predecessor GPS and, most famously, ARPANET, a computer network evolving into modern computers.
Unlike more conservative, incremental research teams, DARPA aggressively pursues major scientific advances that Silicon Valley typically shares with other government agencies. Biden believes that the US will lag behind in biotech by using the DARPA model on cutting-edge health research.
“China and other countries are closing fast,” Biden said during the address. “We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future: advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips and clean energy.”