Jun 24, 2022 - News

Georgia makes a bipartisan ARPA-H bid

Illustration of a gloved hand holding a petri dish with a question mark.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The federal government is launching an agency aimed at curing major diseases — and Georgia is vying to house its $1 billion headquarters.

Why it matters: The Advanced Research Project Agency for Health, known as ARPA-H, will be the first to focus on breakthrough healthcare and technology innovations, meaning it will be looking for and funding ways to cure cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and more.

Driving the news: Georgia's entire delegation in Washington quickly got behind the pitch. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Rep. Buddy Carter (R) gathered signatures for a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services supporting the bid within a week.

The big picture: Georgia has competition. It joins a list of states vying for the agency's administrative headquarters, which is modeled after the defense research agency, DARPA.

  • But Russ Medford, a biotech executive and former professor of medicine at Emory University who is leading the coalition of Georgia businesses, nonprofits and universities advocating for the move, said Georgia "should and must be the headquarters."

Details: Beyond Georgia's medical universities and high global connectivity via the Atlanta airport, Medford points to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Carter Center and the Task Force for Global Health as reasons why Georgia would be "a match made in heaven."

  • "We have a history of combating global disease and building an infrastructure that’s unique in the nation," Medford told Axios.

What's next: The details of ARPA-H's structure are still in the works, including whether its director needs to be confirmed by the Senate.

  • The agency was formally created and an interim director was named last month, but the timeline of a headquarters decision remains unclear.
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