President Biden Announces Intent to Appoint Dr. Rene Wegrzyn as Inaugural Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Healthcare (ARPA-H)

Today, President Joe Biden announced his intention to appoint Dr. Rene Weggin as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Healthcare (ARPA-H), a new agency created to drive biomedical innovation that keeps all Americans healthy. In the 60sth anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot speech, Dr. Wegrzyn will join President Biden today at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston as he discusses his bold vision for another American Moonshot: an end to cancer as we know him.

Dr. Wegrzyn, a scientist with professional experience working for two of the institutions that inspired ARPA-H—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA)—will be responsible for managing the agency’s emerging research portfolio and associated budget. The budget is expected to support a wide range of programs to develop capabilities to prevent, detect and treat some of the most incurable diseases, including cancer.

President Biden created ARPA-H in March 2022 to expand the frontiers of American biomedical and health research and innovation. ARPA-H will embrace proven models to draw talent and expertise from across industry, academia, and government to bring new ideas and approaches, as well as the ability to manage resources through public-private partnerships. Equity will be central to ARPA-H’s mission, which will ensure that all projects consider equity in their design, support impressive breakthroughs, expand access to health care, and improve access for all patients regardless of race, ethnicity , gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and income level.

Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, Inaugural Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Healthcare (ARPA-H)
Dr. Renee Wegrzyn is currently Vice President of Business Development at Ginkgo Bioworks and Head of Innovation at Concentric by Ginkgo, where she focuses on applying synthetic biology to advance infectious disease—including COVID-19—through biomanufacturing, vaccine innovation, and biosurveillance of pathogens at scale.

Prior to Ginkgo Bioworks, Wegrzyn was a program manager in the Biological Technology Office (BTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where she used the tools of synthetic biology and gene editing to improve biosecurity, promote public health, and to support a domestic bioeconomy. Her DARPA portfolio included Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules, Safe Genes, Preemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE), and the Discovery with Gene Editing Technologies (DIGET) programs.

Wegrzyn received a Superior Community Service Medal for his work and contributions to DARPA. Prior to joining DARPA as a program manager, Wegrzyn led technical teams in private industry in biosecurity, gene therapies, emerging infectious diseases, neuromodulation, synthetic biology, and research and development teams commercializing multiplex immunoassays and disease-based diagnostics. of peptides.

Wegrzyn has served on the scientific advisory boards of the National Academies of Sciences Council for Army Research and Development, Revive & Restore, Air Force Research Laboratories, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the Genomics Innovation Institute. She holds a PhD and BS in Applied Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, was a Fellow at the Center for Emerging Leaders in the Biosafety Initiative (ELBI), and completed her postdoctoral training as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in Heidelberg, Germany.

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