Eshoo Testimony at Rules Hearing on ARPA-H

June 21, 2022
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee on the Energy and Commerce Committee, gave the following testimony at a Rules Committee hearing on her legislation H.R. 5585, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health Act, which will be voted on in the House this week:

In 1944, during the war, President Roosevelt wrote to his chief science advisor:

“New frontiers of the mind are before us, and if they are pioneered with the same vision, boldness, and drive with which we have waged this war we can create a fuller and more fruitful employment and a fuller and more fruitful life.”

That was nearly 80 years ago, and 80 years down the road, we have new frontiers of the mind before us once again. Thanks to basic research into the human genome, mRNA, and the biology of the human body, we’re close to medical breakthroughs that will help Americans live a fuller and more fruitful life that FDR wrote about many decades ago.

But too many medical breakthroughs die in the valley between basic research and commercialization. Ideas are unpursued because of perceived risk or the lack of an economic benefit.

When innovations are pursued, the process is too slow. Among the 24 most impactful drugs on the market, the median time between the key discovery and FDA approval is 32 years.

To achieve breakthroughs, we need what FDR wrote to his science advisor, vision, boldness, and drive. That is what the bipartisan Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) Act we believe will deliver.

Today there are diseases that when anyone is diagnosed with them, it’s a death sentence. And I believe that we can and we must change this.

First, vision: The ARPA-H Act provides the new agency with a uniquely targeted mission to develop new, breakthrough health technologies that are not being met by existing Federal programs or private entities.

Second, the boldness: The ARPA-H Act gives the new agency the autonomy and independence to pursue a culture of radical innovation, disciplined execution, and ambitious accountability.

Thirdly, the drive: The ARPA-H Act ensures the new agency will embody the nimble spirit of the esteemed DARPA to pursue large-scale, high-risk projects. I think every member is really well versed because it’s such an extraordinary success what DARPA has brought forward, and it’s a completely different set up than really any other federal agency that we have.

It empowers program managers to scope and scale milestone-driven contracts.

Passing the ARPA-H Act will provide the new Agency the vision, boldness, and drive it needs to be successful. That is why it was supported by 53 out of the 56 Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee and by top biomedical scientists and researchers including bipartisan former officials from the NIH, CDC, and FDA.

For all of these reasons, I’m proud to come before you and ask for your support. I believe this can be transformational. And I’m always mindful that what we do here in the United States of America, our success become the hope of the world.

Thank you and I yield back.