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Biden’s grand plan: “Blue Sky” research to solve the biggest health problem


“Follow the science” is a term that we became very familiar with during the Covid pandemic. But the administration of US President Joe Biden seems to be taking this concept to a whole new level.Biden came up with An additional $9 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), of which $6.5 billion will be earmarked for a new funding agency called ARPA-H (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health).

The mission of the new health agency is to solve the “big problems” in the health field, such as chronic problems and problems, through a visionary “blue sky” thinking. The mission of the agency will be similar to that of DARPA, which is to innovate high-risk and high-return projects in the defense sector. The thing in it People will remember that DARPA introduced the Internet, GPS, and computer mouse.

These innovations are the result of researchers exploring new ideas and new technologies-“blue sky” research without clear or specific goals. Usually, solving big problems requires thinking outside the box. For example, instead of focusing on finding solutions to specific problems (such as prostate cancer), this method allows researchers to come up with ideas and look for clues and clues that can lead to solutions.

Although the new funds are welcome, what is more important is how the money will be used. In addition to sponsoring projects with specific goals that are expected to produce quantifiable results, these institutions will also sponsor project studies that are difficult to prove or document theoretical and conceptual research. These studies may become the cornerstone of future innovations or inventions, and the research will be rewarded. One or two years, but ten or two years.

Compared with the current situation, this is a significant change Performance-based funding Sponsored by most public and private organizations.

In addition, budgeting in this way is very important, because history shows that a wave of new innovations and preliminary research is usually followed by a large increase in the budget, resulting in new technologies, new drugs, and a better healthcare system. After the 2008 recession, NIH implemented the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which awarded $10.4B to more than 21,000 research and development projects. Through this initiative, approximately 50,000 jobs have been created or retained, bringing long-term and sustainable positive results to the biomedical community.

The focus of ARPA-H will be translational research, which focuses on transforming laboratory work into marketable products. Concentrating additional budgets at this stage will lead to more company creation, more job opportunities, and a greater variety of solutions, equipment, and drugs.

From this perspective, the new agency’s agenda must be ambitious—but Biden is no stranger to open-ended “blue sky” research.According to the Medical Journal Lancet, Biden “has a long-term interest in medical research.”Under Barack Obama, then Vice President Biden led Cancer Moon Task ForceThis “brought new urgency to the federal government’s efforts to fight cancer, and established new partnerships and developed new plans and policies.” “Major progress has been made in integrating public and private resources to The fight against cancer “achieves ten years of progress in five years”, according to A report Released after the 2016 election.

Like other U.S. government funding programs, these agencies will provide funding for global projects-which means that all researchers with great ideas are welcome to apply.These institutions are still being formed, which means that the eligibility criteria have not yet been announced, but of course they will look forward to organized proposals to discuss the ideas and theories of researchers, just like other government-funded institutions. NIH requirementsHowever, unlike other institutions, researchers do not have to describe the results they expect at the end of the project. This is a revolutionary change that can promote the development of the life science industry. The fact that government funds do so will further emphasize the important role of government and undiluted funds as the engine that drives the industry forward.

Anyone is guessing where the research funded by the open agenda of ARPA-H and ARPA-E will go-this is the key. The miracles of the future-new ways to treat diseases, new ways to use energy, new innovations that help reduce or eliminate many human sufferings-are waiting for us. With innovative thinking and open-ended methods, researchers using funds sponsored by these institutions may make discoveries that make the future a reality.

Photo: Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images



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