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UMD Research Scientist Tapped to Lead New Federal Health Agency

Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) Aims to Speed Breakthroughs in Disease Dagnosis, Treatment and Prevention


Sara Gavin

image of29414704287 04fb7fcbbc k National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra appointed Adam Russell, Chief Scientist at the University of Maryland’s Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security (ARLIS), to serve as acting deputy director of the new Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

Proposed by President Joseph R. Biden to improve the U.S. government’s ability to speed biomedical and health research, ARPA-H was established by law on March 15 and will operate as an independent entity within the National Institutes of Health.

"We are ecstatic that Dr. Adam Russell has accepted the challenge to help launch ARPA-H, President Biden's bold, new endeavor to support ambitious and potentially transformational health research in this country," said Secretary Becerra. "ARPA-H will have a singular purpose: to drive breakthroughs in health, including the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes."

Russell will guide the early stages of building the administrative structure of the agency and oversee the hiring of initial operational staff. President Biden will appoint an ARPA-H Director who will report to the HHS Secretary.

Adam Russell
Adam Russell, Ph.D.

“My job as acting deputy director is to further empower our excellent ARPA-H team to get the ship ready to sail, so that the inaugural director can get started from day one on accomplishing ARPA-H's mission to make ambitious investments in new approaches that can advance the health and well-being of all Americans,” Russell said. “It's an awesome responsibility to be invited to contribute to an organization that we all hope will transform the larger health ecosystem. I’m grateful to HHS, the White House, and the NIH for this opportunity, and to UMD and ARLIS for supporting me in taking it.”

Russell has broad technical and management experience across several disciplines, ranging from cognitive neuroscience and physiology to cultural psychology and social anthropology. He spent more than a decade as a Program Manager, first at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and then at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In addition to his role as Chief Scientist at ARLIS, one of fourteen designated Department of Defense University Affiliated Research Centers in the nation, Russell holds an adjunct faculty position in the UMD Department of Psychology.

Russell begins as acting deputy director at ARPA-H in June, but once the agency is fully operational, plans to return to his role within ARLIS.

*Parts of this announcement were taken from a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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