Georgia delegation pushes feds to base new health research agency in Georgia

Credit: Unsplash

Credit: Unsplash

WASHINGTON — A newly launched federal health agency will eventually need its own home, and all 16 members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, representing both chambers and both parties, are joining together in hopes of making the state that choice.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health was created with $1 billion in funding contained in the appropriations bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in March. Biden first proposed creating the agency in 2021, saying it would “improve the U.S. government’s capabilities to speed research that can improve the health of all Americans.”

Georgia’s two senators and 14 U.S. House members sent a letter to federal health officials Tuesday trumpeting the state as a good fit for the new agency’s mission.

“Georgia is uniquely positioned to support the nation’s first federal agency dedicated to a new approach for developing breakthrough innovations and advancing outcomes for all patients,” the letter says. “If headquartered in Georgia, ARPA-H would be supported by our world-class talent, dynamic commercial technology sector, and rich public health research legacy.”

The new agency is an independent entity within the National Institutes of Health, which is based in a suburb of Washington. The delegation in its letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra does not advocate for a particular city or region in Georgia for the new agency’s headquarters.

However, the letter does list what the delegation perceives as Georgia’s advantages, including existing health care system partnerships with medical schools in Atlanta, Augusta and Macon, a strong network of historically Black colleges and universities, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There is no better way to maximize ARPA-H’s mission impact than to be supported and surrounded by institutions whose missions match that of ARPA-H,” the letter says. “Atlanta is the nation’s center for global health.”

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, an Atlanta Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Pooler Republican, are taking the lead on the effort. Having the support of the entire delegation, which currently breaks down to eight Democrats and eight Republicans, indicates the potential positive impact landing the agency could have on the state’s economy, related businesses and institutions of higher education.

Other cities and states across the nation are also expected to compete for the agency.