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ARPA-H: Pioneering a Fresh Frontier in Healthcare Research and Innovation

The Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H), is a new federal endeavor that tackles high-payoff research — a new agency taking a fresh approach to health in the U.S.

“This is a moonshot that the rest of the funding ecosystem can’t take on,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, PhD, who became the agency’s first leader in fall 2022.

ARPA-H operates with a unique approach by employing project managers, referred to as “demonstrated doers,” for a three-year tenure. These individuals work within a unified framework that addresses accessibility, cost, and user experience to devise innovative solutions for complex health challenges. With an initial Congressional appropriation of $2.5 billion, ARPA-H is well-positioned to make significant strides in the field of healthcare research and development.

Wegrzyn highlighted the agency’s maiden project, NITRO (Novel Innovations for Tissue Regeneration in Osteoarthritis), which aims to regenerate bone tissue using a person’s own cells, potentially reducing the need for traditional joint implants.

Additionally, ARPA-H will establish three strategic “hub and spoke” locations throughout the United States, ensuring comprehensive representation for all Americans. This approach is driven by the agency’s commitment to facilitate smooth program transitions beyond ARPA-H. Currently, ARPA-H is engaged in a competitive selection process for two sites: a Customer Experience Hub capable of clinical trial recruitment and manufacturing scalability, and an Investor Catalyst Hub designed to facilitate venture investment and funding.

“We are very aware that the gap in innovation and how things work in the real world is vast,” she said. “We want to bridge that gap.”

Watch the Fireside Chat with Renee Wegrzyn, PhD and more of the World Medical Innovation Forum sessions.