Boston Globe: Mass. business, political leaders ramp up efforts to win new federal health HQ

Sep 12, 2022

By Jon Chesto, Boston Globe

This story was originally published in The Boston Globe.

Many of the state’s top business and political leaders are launching a charm offensive to win the headquarters for a new federal biomedical research agency.

Or maybe make that a CHARM offensive.

On Monday, this group of power brokers is announcing the name of the coalition they’ve formed to attract this agency to Massachusetts: The Coalition for Health Advances & Research in Massachusetts (aka CHARM). They also unveiled a website that aims to highlight all the reasons the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, should come here — including the concentration of research hospitals, life sciences companies, and top-tier universities in Greater Boston.

“Other places have one or two things that can make this work,” said Steve Walsh, chief executive of the Massachusetts Hospital & Health Association. “There’s nobody else that has all three.”

While this local group has been active since May, the unveiling of the name and website was intended to coincide with President Biden’s visit on Monday to talk about his revival of the “Cancer Moonshot” project, to significantly reduce the death rates from cancer. Biden sees ARPA-H, which Congress recently funded by including $1 billion in a federal spending bill, as a crucial element of this push.

“It seems like the federal government wants to get in the business of taking on the riskiest science,” said Joe Boncore, chief executive of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. “That’s what the Commonwealth is known for. That’s what our ecosystem is.”

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