Grant Engine is excited to share that Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) has officially opened up a solicitation. We’ve known the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) would offer non-dilutive funding awards for life science R&D. Now, the new federal agency has issued a solicitation highlighting key areas of interest.

Before you dig in, there are a few key parameters to keep in mind. First, off it’s early, so expect things to evolve from where they stand today. This means solicitations, program officers, process, and funding amounts will all evolve.

Second, and importantly, ARPA-H is going after significant transformative leaps in technology and patient-level impact across multiple sectors. To orient yourself, the following questions serve to anchor thinking of the types of programs ARPA-H wants to fund.

  • What if damaged organs could be re-printed in a lab?
  • What if a surgical nanorobot could be delivered by a pill?
  • What if a cancer vaccine cost as little as a cup of coffee?

The areas below are such that the challenge should NOT be easily Solvable through Traditional activities.

The contacts are sure to change, but you can identify points of contact here. Key points of interface are individuals heading up a Mission Office.

Regarding the solicitations, here is the summary:

  • Solicitation includes a pre-application and then a full application.
  • Currently no budget cap, but this is certain to be milestone-based similar to DARPA
  • Foreign entities, for-profit, and non-profit organizations are allowed.

Call to action: Review the BAA via the link above (or the line-items below) and respond to us with which specific bullets align with your product, within each possible area. Please paste the areas of alignment with your products (including the broad areas and the sub-bullets) when responding to us.

The solicitation addresses four broad areas:

  1. Health Science Futures
  2. Scalable Solutions
  3. Proactive Health
  4. Resilient Systems.                           

1. Health Science Futures: Seeks to develop the innovative tools, technologies, and platforms that can be applied to a broad range of diseases. While approaches that are disease agnostic are encouraged, proposals are welcome that bring radically new insights to address diseases that include, but are not limited to cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular disease, which may serve to establish generalizable paradigms. Proposers are encouraged to address diseases that affect large populations, rare diseases, or diseases for which treatment options are limited. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel molecular platform approaches to include the modulation of host systems, delivery to targets with spatial and temporal precision, and mitigation of off-target effects to accelerate interventions that dramatically improve health outcomes.
  • New approaches to accelerate and routinize mammalian and microbial cellular engineering to enable next generation therapeutic applications, develop multiscale interventions, and automate hypothesis generation and discovery to expand those applications to disease states in which cellular therapies have not traditionally been employed.
  • Foundational interventions that target and reverse disease pathogenesis and/or enhance plasticity to address degenerative diseases of the nervous, neuromuscular, skeletal, and other organ systems.
  • Foundational advances in genetic, cellular, tissue, and organ replacement therapies that enable personalized medical interventions at scale in a manner that is accessible, cost effective and designed to impact the communities of greatest need.
  • AI-enabled, and empirically validated physiological models that accurately reflect the biological basis of complex diseases, the interface between biological and physical systems, and mimic human response to potential therapeutic or multiscale interventions from the atomic/molecular to systemic/whole human scales.
  • Miniaturization of complex hardware to enable broader access and portability such as diagnostic, treatment, imaging, or other devices.

 2. Scalable Solutions: Seeks to improve access and affordability and address health ecosystem challenges that impede effective and timely development and distribution of healthcare and disease response at a scale that reaches every citizen regardless of geography or resources. Anticipated approaches include innovations that overcome challenges in geography, distribution, manufacturing, data and information, and economies of scale to ensure solutions can reach everyone quickly. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Scalable treatments for the pediatric population that go beyond reducing the size/dose of an adult treatment and may include solutions that adapt to the pediatric patient’s changing physiology and developmental status over the course of years.
  • Innovative manufacturing technologies that reduce cost, shorten the timeline for production, and eliminate supply chain risk of biologics, cellular therapies, or medical hardware.
  • Methods for standardization, automation, and democratization of complex procedures including, but not limited to, histopathology, rare disease diagnosis and treatment, and surgical interventions to ensure access and delivery to populations diverse in demographics, geographies, and resources at scale.
  • Methods to enhance delivery of effective healthcare solutions in rural or low resource settings, including but not limited to “last mile# delivery, at-home monitoring, imaging, drug delivery, telehealth augmentation, and support for remote medical procedures with limited need for specialized training.
  • Transformational approaches to reduce or eliminate health disparities, including tools and models for product design and care delivery that scale novel approaches in human factors and human-centered design to respond to full diversity of patients.
  • Foundational capabilities to accelerate diagnoses and reduce the cost of treatments for rare diseases wherever patients are, without the need for specialized facilities or healthcare expertise.

3Proactive Health: Aims to improve personal health and wellness to reduce the likelihood that people require medical intervention or minimize the time that they remain in acute care through accelerated recovery and regeneration capabilities. Proactive health programs will create new capabilities to identify and characterize disease risk, reduce comorbidities, and promote treatments and behaviors to address challenges to human health, whether viral, bacterial, physical, psychological, environmental, or caused by the natural aging process. Interest areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel techniques to reduce the spread of disease or eliminate risk factors, including new vaccine or therapeutic modalities that block pathogen transmission, induce mucosal immunity, or boost or sustain native immunity without triggering auto-immune dysfunction.
  • Novel diagnoses, prognostics, treatments, technologies, and interventions to reduce health disparities, especially in the areas of mental health disorders, substance use disorders, maternal morbidity and mortality, and chronic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
  • Development of novel approaches to continuously measure, analyze, and enhance health promoting activities to accelerate recovery, enhance immune function, improve mental health, or treat sleep disorders.
  • Development of robotics, wearables, and other devices to enhance independence for aging populations and people with cognitive or movement disorders, and to help people age in place.
  • Novel approaches to accelerate recovery from injury or stress, including tissue regeneration and healing broadly, as well as methods to regenerate injured brain tissue after trauma or stroke to end paralysis and cognitive loss.
  • Non-invasive approaches to characterize brain and other deep tissue and organ health with quantitative and accurate outcomes equivalent to invasive health monitoring, to include innovations in hardware as well as imaging tools and reagents.
  • Development of machine-enhanced computational models to predict changes in health status, reduce medical errors, and improve standard of care while ensuring safety, accuracy, and quality assurance across patient populations in clinical settings.

 4. Resilient Systems: Aims to create capabilities, develop mechanisms, and accelerate system integrations to enhance stability in the face of disruptive events. Resilient systems need to sustain themselves between crises, from the molecular to the societal, to better achieve outcomes that advance American health resilience at the population level. From software systems to manufacturing pipelines, biophysical systems to microbiomes, and patient communities to provider networks, reliability is key to weather crises such as pandemics, social disruption, climate change, molecular disturbances, and economic instability. Interest areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel methods to engineer resilient tissues, microbiomes, and biophysical systems to combat disease or maintain health.
  • Approaches that enable health infrastructure to rapidly integrate commercial-off-the-shelf solutions, create decision support tools, and adapt supply chains, manufacturing, logistics, and strategies to leverage workforce during public health emergencies.
  • Novel ways to protect, secure, integrate, analyze, communicate, and present health data, including but not limited to advances in privacy, cyber security, artificial intelligence with enhanced patient safety properties, low-code or no-code technologies, semantic approaches, and rapid integration techniques.
  • Strategies and technologies to leverage homes, community centers, pharmacies, and other accessible locations as distributed clinical trial sites to diversify participation in clinical trials and integrate end-user feedback to rapidly iterate prototype designs.
  • Approaches to build trust in the healthcare system and distribute high-quality health guidance in an understandable manner that improves patient outcomes.
  • Novel real-time measurement tools to track health outcomes, evaluate post-market performance of new interventions, and enable convergence on the most effective strategies to improve the quality of care, especially for underserved communities.
  • Development of novel approaches to address ELSI challenges governance frameworks for health information, consent, data reuse, biosecurity, band potential unintended consequences.

Call to action: Review the BAA via the link above (or the line-items below) and respond to us with which specific bullets align with your product, within each possible area. Please paste the areas of alignment with your products (including the broad areas and the sub-bullets) when responding to us. 

As well, ARPA-H is establishing an Accelerator program, call PATIO. The Project Accelerator Transition Innovation Office (PATIO) provides a wide variety of transition and commercialization services to Program Managers (PMs) and ARPA-H performers, who are ARPA-H’s contract awardees. These services increase the probability that ARPA-H-funded solutions “survive in the wild.” PATIO will first identify and second de-risk barriers to commercial (or other) success.

As always, if this topic or others are of interest to you, we can help. Please call (650) 937-9164, or contact us here.

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