Boston Globe: The feds are choosing a headquarters for a federal health research center. Why not pick Boston?

May 16, 2022

By Jon Chesto, Boston Globe Staff

Originally published by the Boston Globe on May 16, 2022

Massachusetts is joining the multistate contest for a coveted prize: the headquarters of a new federal biomedical research agency.

Top academic, political, and business leaders from the region convenedon Monday for the first timein an effort to land the home base for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health — ARPA-H for short.

A recently approved federal spending bill sets aside $1 billion to launch ARPA-H to try novel approaches toward curing diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, and President Biden is asking Congress for billions more over the next few years. The research center will intentionally not be located at its parent agency, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. For that reason, leaders in various states are racing to make the best case for why ARPA-H should come to them. Texas has an early start. Other likely contender sinclude California and North Carolina. One congressman from Maryland recently told STAT that ARPA-H should be in his home state, not far from NIH.

… “They want the federal government to be taking big bets on risky science,” said Joe Boncore, a former state senator who is now chief executive of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. “There’s no better place to do that than in Massachusetts . . . It’s really about solving big medical problems. This ecosystem here would work seamlessly to leverage our networks across the scientific community to make life-saving cures.”

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