Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL07) voted for bipartisan legislation establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to accelerate transformative breakthroughs in detecting and treating cancer and other deadly diseases.

This new independent agency will focus on spurring biomedical innovations and advancing cutting-edge health research that would otherwise languish without federal support. This legislation passed the House with bipartisan support 336 to 85. Sewell previously voted to appropriate $1 billion in startup funding for ARPA-H, and this legislation will authorize the agency to begin operations.

“With more tools than ever before to detect and treat cancer, there is no doubt that our nation is nearing a turning point in the fight against this horrible disease,” said Rep. Sewell. “Now is the time to build on our momentum by making critical investments to accelerate cancer research and save lives. Today, I was proud to vote for bipartisan legislation to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. ARPA-H will mobilize federal resources to pursue ambitious, moonshot research efforts and help our nation deliver the next generation of life-saving treatments and cures!”

This legislation is modeled on the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has helped develop technological innovations ranging from the Internet to GPS. Like DARPA, ARPA-H will catalyze breakthroughs that are cost-prohibitive for private researchers or are otherwise not commercially viable. These efforts will focus on developing new health technologies to prevent, treat and cure a range of widespread diseases, including cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

President Joe Biden (D) emphasized prioritizing medical research, particularly regarding cancer, in his state of the union address.

ARPA-H will fall under the Department of Health and Human Services.

“ARPA-H will have a singular purpose: to drive breakthroughs in biomedicine; to prevent, detect, and treat diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes,” Biden said. “Like DARPA, ARPA-H will pursue ideas that break the mold on how we normally support fundamental research and commercial products in this country.  Ideas so bold no one else, not even the private sector, is willing to give them a chance or to sink a lot of money into trying to solve. Ideas so audacious that people say they just might work only — if only we could try. Well, we’re about to try in a big way.”

Sewell said, “As President Biden noted during his State of the Union address earlier this year, cancer is the second leading cause of death in America.  This legislation builds on his plan to supercharge the Cancer Moonshot, which aims to cut the nation’s cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years.”

Sewell is in her sixth term representing Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District.

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