Dr Renee Wegrzyn appointed as the director of ARPA-H

The US President Joe Biden appointed Dr Renee Wegrzyn as the inaugural director of the ARPA-H (Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health) and detailed her role during his speech on the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s moonshot speech in Rice University

Key facts

  • Dr Renee Wegrzyn, a biologist and former government scientist, was appointed as the first ever director of the newly created Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).
  • The ARPA-H Director’s tenure would last for five years.
  • The purpose of the ARPA-H is to seek innovative solutions to biomedical problems.
  • It would support highly risky but rewarding researches in the life sciences.
  • It was established to emulate the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which had played a key role in the rapid development of defence technologies by awarding contracts to risky projects, which can be withdrawn abruptly if the researchers do not meet the desired milestone.
  • Dr Renee Wegrzyn served as the programme manager at the DARPA for more than 5 years, working in projects that used synthetic biology to counter infectious diseases and boost biosecurity.
  • Though ARPA-H has a new director, the agency’s foundational details are currently lacking.
  • The US Congress had allocated ARAP-H just 1 billion USD for 2022. The Biden Administration had requested a budget of 6.5 billion USD.
  • The agency also lacks a backing by the legislation specifically authorizing its creation.

60th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s Moonshot Address

President Kennedy gave his famous Moonshot Speech on September 12, 1962 at Rice University, Houston. During his speech, the President recommitted the US’ Moon landing goal that was proposed in May 1961 to land astronauts on the lunar surface before the end of the decade and returning them safely back to the Earth.

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