North Carolina in the running for major federal biomedical facility
By Theresa Opeka
Members of the North Carolina congressional delegation, including U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, and U.S. Congressman Ted Budd, are urging the Biden Administration to locate a major federal biomedical facility in the state. A spending bill has allocated $1 billion for the facility.
The group sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week stating that North Carolina would be the best location for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.
“As a leader in the biotechnology and life science industry and home to world-class educational and research institutions, our state is uniquely positioned to serve as the ideal location for the agency’s future headquarters,” the letter stated.
According to the National Institutes of Health, President Biden proposed the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to improve the U.S. government’s ability to speed biomedical and health research.
The center would focus on advances in preventing, treating, and curing everything from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer. Lawmakers boasted about the state’s research and development hubs for key sectors like biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
“There is a demonstrated record of these industries partnering with our institutions of higher education across the state to bolster our nation’s health workforce, leading breakthrough biomedical, biotechnology, and life sciences research on a global scale,”
Adam H. Russell, D.Phil., was named as acting deputy director of the new organization in May. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University, and went on to study at Oxford University and work as a program manager for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The letter goes on to mention institutions of higher learning that include N.C’s HBCU’s, like North Carolina A&T, the largest HBCU in the country that is recognized nationally for its excellence in STEM education, and the North Carolina Community College System’s “BioNetwork.” The letter also touts the state’s health care systems and clinical research institutions already known across the world for providing highly innovative research and advanced care.
ARPA-H in NC Coalition, a group including Duke Health, Atrium Health,SAS Institute, and RTI International that was formed under the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, also concurs with bringing the facility to North Carolina.
The congressional delegation wraps up their letter by saying, “Our thriving economy, strategic location in the southeastern United States, and low cost of living are attracting and retaining the world’s best and brightest. With an unmatched business environment, North Carolina offers a full complement of clinical, STEM, biotech, and business training programs to prepare for a workforce skilled in cutting-edge research, academia, health care and digital health for both public and private sectors.”
North Carolina is competing with Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in landing ARPA-H’s headquarters. N.C.’s Department of Commerce is reportedly gathering industry groups to develop a pitch to the fed for the project.