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Biden administration pledges $100M toward women’s health research

The Biden Administration, through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, has committed to invest $100 million into women’s health research, First Lady Jill Biden announced Wednesday.

The investment is part of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, launched by Jill Biden last year to draw forth more funding to women’s health research through partnerships between the federal government and the private sector. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, will oversee distribution of funds through its “Sprint for Women’s Health” program.

“We have a clear goal: to fundamentally change how our nation approaches and funds women’s health research,” Biden said in remarks in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “There are big gaps in research on diseases and conditions that only affect women, that disproportionately affect women, or that affect women and men differently.”

Research and development for conditions that affect women, such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, has often been neglected. Drug development for these kinds of diseases receives less funding from biopharmaceutical companies than others that mainly affect men, too.

Recent political developments, like ongoing litigation over the abortion pill mifepristone, have brought increased attention to women’s health research, however.

ARPA-H program managers will soon announce a list of specific topics for which they’ll solicit proposals for “tools, products or platforms” that can improve women’s health outcomes.

As part of that process, ARPA-H will gather a group of experts to “create a range of investments that encompass disease-agnostic and non-traditional research approaches.”

ARPA-H director Renee Wegrzyn said the program will aim to “radically accelerate the next generation of discoveries that range from early laboratory proofs of concept that may impact future generations, to products that are ready to be commercialized and launched to start improving women’s health today.”

The agency is holding a virtual meeting that it describes as a “Proposers’ Day” in March to share more information about the program.

Launched in 2022, ARPA-H was modeled after the Department of Defense agency DARPA and is designed to catalyze cutting-edge health research.