Biden to Choose Biotech Director to Lead New Biomedical Research Agency

WASHINGTON – President Biden has selected Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, a Boston biotech executive with government experience, as director of a new federal agency to promote biomedical innovation, the White House said. said on Monday.

Mr. Biden will announce his intention to appoint Dr Wegrzyn, along with a series of steps to advance his so-called cancer cure initiative, during a speech at the John Presidential Library and Museum. F. Kennedy in Boston on the 60th anniversary of the former president’s “moonshot” speech that ushered in the era of space travel.

Mr. Biden, whose son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015, has a deep personal commitment to advancing cancer research. He helped create the big picture of cancer when he was vice president and proposed a new biomedical body this year as part of an effort to revive the initiative, and he said to “do it all.” end cancer as we know it.”

Modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the biomedical research agency is known as the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency. (In Washington, where every agency has its initials, the defense research agency is called DARPA and the health agency is ARPA-H.)

Dr Wegrzyn is currently vice president of business development for Ginkgo Bioworks and head of innovation at Concentric by Ginkgo, the company’s initiative to advance coronavirus testing and track the spread of the virus. . She also works at DARPA and its sister agency, Intelligence Advancement Research Project Operations.

“Some of the problems we face every day – especially in health and disease – are so great that they seem insurmountable,” Dr. Wegrzyn said in a statement provided by the White House. grant. “I have seen firsthand the immense expertise and energy that the US biotech and biomedical business can bring to address some of the most extreme health challenges.”

Congress spent $1 billion on ARPA-H, which is housed in the National Institutes of Health. While its director is not a Senate-confirmed position, Mr. Biden could face opposition from Republicans, some of whom have argued that the new agency duplicates efforts. force of the NIH.

The White House announcement drew praise from Ellen V. Sigal, president of Friends of Cancer Research, a nonprofit that works with industry and government to promote new therapies. Ms. Sigal called Dr Wegrzyn “an inspiring choice”, adding, “She is a proven leader and innovator who is scientifically savvy, knows how to make government work. act and understand the urgency for patients across the country.”

In addition to announcing his intention to appoint Dr. Wegrzyn, Mr. Biden on Monday issued an executive order establishing a biotechnological and bio-manufacturing initiative that aims to put the United States at the forefront of this initiative. this field and as a center for domestic drug production. The coronavirus pandemic exposes serious weaknesses in the supply chain of life-saving drugs and therapies.

“The United States has become too dependent on foreign materials for biomanufacturing,” the White House said in a statement, “and our past for critical industries, including technology biopharmaceuticals, pose a threat to our access to critical ingredients such as the active pharmaceutical ingredient that makes life-saving drugs. “

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