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Remarks Prior to a Roundtable Discussion on the Advanced Research Project Agency for Health

March 18, 2022

Well, look, let me get started here. I want to say good afternoon to everyone.

This week, I signed into law the bipartisan Government funding bill, demonstrating again that the American people—that Democrats and Republicans and Independents can come together and do some big things.

This bill includes something I've believed in for a long, long time: ARPA-H, an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. It's based—as Dr. Tompkins knows, it's based on the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency that has led for—led breakthroughs in technologies that protect our security, everything from the internet to GPS and so much more.

ARPA-H will have a singular purpose: to drive breakthroughs in biomedicine; to prevent, detect, and treat diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes.

And I want to thank the bipartisan Members of the House and Senate who are working so hard to get this done: Senator Patrick Leahy, Patty Murphy [Murray],* Roy Blunt, Richard Burr; Representatives Anna Eshoo and Rosa DeLauro, Frank Pallone, Diana DeGette, Fred Upton.

Like DARPA, ARPA-H will pursue ideas that break the mold on how we normally support fundamental research and commercial products in this country, ideas so bold no one else, not even the private sector, is willing to give them a chance or to sink a lot of money into trying to solve; ideas so audacious that people say they just might work only if—only if—we could try.

Well, we're about to try in a big way. And that's what this meeting is about. Because ARPA-H is modeled after DARPA, and I've asked the DARPA Director, Stefanie Tompkins, to speak about the promise of ARPA-H.

In fact, we're going to hear from a patient who benefited from the DARPA research. And it enabled him to use a prosthetic arm that moves, but also provides a sense of touch, which he couldn't do before, and we couldn't do before. Imagine losing your arm in a war or an accident and regaining the ability to feel—to actually feel—what it's like to hold the hand of a spouse or a child. It's remarkable.

We'll also hear from—I'm going to mispronounce—I'll just—Dr. Nelson—[laughter]—who leads the White House Office on Science and Technology, and my Science Adviser, Dr. Francis Collins, to talk about how we ensure ARPA-H is—harnesses the powers and possibilities of science and technology to benefit all of America; to focus on equity, because every American should have access to cutting-edge health care innovations; and to make it impossible—make the impossible possible.

And you've heard me say over and over again, America can be defined by a single word: possibilities.

I'm going to stop there so we can get this meeting started, and then I'm going to turn to Dr. Nelson.

So let me begin. Dr. Nelson.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:40 p.m. in the South Court Auditorium of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Stefanie Tompkins, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Acting Director Alondra Nelson; former National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, in his capacity as Acting Cochair of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology; and Waynesville, NC, resident Brandon Prestwood, who received Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) treatment on a prosthetic hand, having lost part of an arm during an industrial accident. Joining the President in the South Court Auditorium were Acting Director Nelson; Cochair Collins; Dustin J. Tyler, HAPTIX researcher and Kent H. Smith II Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western University; and Lisa A. Cooper, member of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of equity in health and health care at Johns Hopkins University.

* White House correction.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks Prior to a Roundtable Discussion on the Advanced Research Project Agency for Health Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/354989

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