HHS establishes federal health research agency, names deputy director

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has formally established the Advanced Research Project Agency for Health within the National Institutes of Health and appointed Adam Russell, PhD, as acting deputy director, effective in June. 

The $6.5 billion agency was first announced last June and aims to improve the federal government's ability to quickly produce biomedical and health research to drive breakthroughs, from immunotherapy to treating cancer.

Dr. Russell is the chief scientist at the University of Maryland's Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security in College Park. He has spent more than a decade as a program manager, first at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and then at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to a May 25 news release.

Dr. Russell will guide the first stages of building the agency's administrative structure and will oversee the hiring of initial operational employees. President Joe Biden will eventually appoint an ARPA-H director for administration and operations, who will report directly to Mr. Becerra.

"We are ecstatic that Dr. Adam Russell has accepted the challenge to help launch ARPA-H, President Biden's bold, new endeavor to support ambitious and potentially transformational health research in this country," Mr. Becerra said. "ARPA-H will have a singular purpose: to drive breakthroughs in health, including the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes."

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