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Metro leaders unite in support of establishing new federal health agency

Leaders from across the St. Louis metro have united behind the effort to bring a groundbreaking new federal agency to the region.

“On behalf of the Greater St. Louis region, we join together to express support for the authorization of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) and the Biden Administration’s expressed desire to locate the new agency outside of the Washington, D.C. metro area. We encourage your advocacy of locating the new facility in the St. Louis bi-state metro, which has been at the forefront of health innovation for decades,” the leaders wrote in a letter to the St. Louis metro’s delegation to Congress.

ARPA-H – modeled after the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is credited for developing the technology that helped create the internet – would focus on breakthrough health care and technology innovations and look for and fund ways to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and more. With $1 billion in funding appropriated for its establishment, the agency will support a broad array of high-risk, high-reward research from medications to artificial intelligence.

Citing the St. Louis metro’s major health systems, global health care and delivery corporations, and world-class research institutions – which include Washington University and Saint Louis University – the leaders noted that “The St. Louis region is tailormade for ARPA-H and its objective to collaborate and innovate with the best scientific minds in the world.”

The agency will also focus on health equity and reducing health disparities, which the leaders pointed out in highlighting the work already taking place at the intersection of St. Louis’ healthcare and rapidly growing geospatial sectors.

“Collaboration on this important issue is already underway between our healthcare sector and growing geospatial sector to reduce health disparities and offer healthcare service delivery to those in unserved and underserved areas of our metro.”

The letter, available here, was signed by government and civic leaders from the bi-state metro area, including:

• Adam Boudouris, Board Chairman, Bond County, Ill.
• Tim Brinker, Presiding Commissioner, Franklin County, Mo.
• Steve Ehlmann, County Executive, St. Charles County, Mo.
• Dennis Gannon, County Executive, Jefferson County, Mo.
• Tishaura O. Jones, Mayor, City of St. Louis, Mo.
• Joseph Kaimann, Presiding Commissioner, Lincoln County, Mo.
• Mark Kern, Board Chairman, St. Clair County, Ill.
• Dennis Knobloch, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Monroe County, Ill.
• Sam Page, County Executive, St. Louis County, Mo.
• Jason Hall, CEO, Greater St. Louis, Inc.

The leaders sent the letter to the bi-state metro St. Louis congressional delegation, which includes:

• Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois
• Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley of Missouri
• Representatives Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, and Mary Miller of Illinois
• Representatives Cori Bush, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jason Smith, and Ann Wagner of Missouri

The regional push to bring ARPA-H to St. Louis comes on the heels of several other recent instances of metro leaders coming together with one voice to advocate for bringing federal funding to the region. Regional leaders have also collaborated recently on:

• Build Back Better Regional Challenge
• NSF Engines
• EDA Good Jobs Challenge
• RAISE Grant for the Brickline Greenway
• STEM Talent Challenge Grant

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