Brett: Feds Should Consider Whole Region For ARPA-HQ
By Colin A. Young, State House News Service
As a group of political leaders, business groups and universities lobbies the Biden administration to pick Massachusetts to be the home of a new advanced health research agency, the New England Council this week asked the federal government to consider New England more broadly.
The council, which has more than 600 business members throughout the six New England states and works closely with the region’s Congressional delegation, had already signed onto a letter from the Coalition for Health Advances & Research in Massachusetts (CHARM) touting the Bay State as the home of the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). But this week, council President James Brett sent a letter to federal officials imploring them to take a wider view and “consider the unparalleled resources the region has to offer.”
“New England is known as one of the world’s premier life sciences hubs, and is home to many of the world’s top medical, education, and research facilities. In fact, New England centers of higher education and research institutes received over $4.5 billion in [National Institutes of Health] funding in 2021. Additionally, the region supports over 56,000 jobs directly tied to NIH funding, and supports just over $10 billion in economic activity,” Brett wrote to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, ARPA-H Director Dr. Renee Wegrzyn and a top White House science advisor. Brett added, “In addition, the New England region boasts a dynamic workforce and innovation ecosystem. New England is home to a highly skilled talent pool to supply the quality and quantity of employees that ARPA-H will need.”
ARPA-H is meant to “support transformative high-risk, high-reward research to drive biomedical and health breakthroughs,” the Biden administration said, and was funded with $1 billion that was included in legislation that passed in March. No headquarters has been selected and Massachusetts is among a handful of states that are openly jockeying for the opportunity to host the organization that’s modeled on the Pentagon’s research arm, DARPA.
Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the University of Massachusetts and others have been leading the CHARM initiative to sway the federal government in favor of Massachusetts when it comes to picking a home for ARPA-H. Neal said in September that he expects “pretty, pretty rigorous” competition among states for the new federal agency and that the ultimate decision will be made by Becerra with input from the White House.