Boston Globe: Cambridge picked as a national hub for new federal health research agency

Sep 27, 2023

The following are excerpts from a Boston Globe story originally published in print on September 27, 2023:

A new federal health research agency will set up shop in Cambridge with plans to spend billions of dollars to accelerate breakthroughs to vanquish tough-to cure diseases such as cancers and Alzheimer’s.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, said Tuesday that Cambridge will host the agency’s “investor catalyst” hub, which will work with researchers, entrepreneurs, and financiers to speed the transition of basic research into new technologies and medicines. The announcement follows an intense lobbying effort by Governor Maura Healey’s administration and the state’s congressional delegation, as well as local business and academic leaders.

ARPA-H, proposed by the Biden administration to tackle intractable illnesses, will remain headquartered in the Washington, D.C., area, where its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, is located. As part of a “hub-and-spoke” structure, a third hub, in Dallas, will focus on patients’ customer experience.

Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, chief executive of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, noted that cancer and dementia research and drug development — key goals of the new agency — are specialties of the state’s large cluster of hospitals, research labs, and biopharma startups.

“From day one, when he heard of ARPA-H, we knew that Massachusetts would be the best place for a hub,” she said. “This is a testament to the density and robustness of our [life sciences] ecosystem.”

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