Jul 7, 2022 - News

Texas bids for new federal science agency HQ

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Texas is in a bidding war for the chance to house the headquarters of a new multibillion-dollar, federally funded science agency aimed at curing major diseases.

Why it matters: The Advanced Research Project Agency for Health, known as ARPA-H, would be the first government agency to focus on breakthrough health care and technology innovations to cure diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.

Driving the news: So far, Texas, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Cleveland and Philadelphia have already made — or plan to make — their cases to the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Texas' bioscience, medical, technology and health care institutions have formed a coalition to push for the state to get ARPA-H.
  • The bid also has bipartisan support. Democratic and Republican members of Congress from Texas have written letters to the Department of Health and Human Services to vouch for the state.
  • If Texas wins, individual cities can fight to house the agency.

What they're saying: "No other state can match all that Texas has to offer to ARPA-H — a highly diverse population, a world-class medical infrastructure, a central location easy to reach from both coasts, and a proven track record of deep commitment to medical research," Wayne Roberts, chief executive officer of the Austin-based Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, said in a statement.

Zoom in: If Texas gets the project, Dallas and Houston could be frontrunners for the site.

  • The cities have two airports each, making travel easier, and have nationally-ranked cancer research hospitals that could support ARPA-H's mission.

Yes, but: The House passed a bill in June, but the Senate has yet to take up the matter.

  • The agency's director would report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, but the exact structure remains undecided.

What we're watching: If Texas leaders' spats with the Biden administration on issues like border policy, education requirements and abortion rights will influence the feds to put ARPA-H somewhere else.


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