As the first major deliverable of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), today announced the ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health, which commits $100 million towards transformative research and development in women’s health. ARPA-H, which was created in 2022 as part of President Biden’s bipartisan Unity Agenda, seeks to advance and accelerate health solutions. 

“If you ask any woman in America about her health care, she likely has a story to tell. Maybe she has migraines, but no one can tell her why. Maybe her heart disease goes undiagnosed because her symptoms don’t look like a man’s. Perhaps she’s going through menopause and has many more questions than answers. Women’s health research has always been underfunded, and as a result, we know far too little about our own health,” says First Lady Jill Biden. “But with the new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, we will fundamentally change how our nation approaches and funds women’s health research. We will close the gaps, we will accelerate new ideas, and change women’s lives. We will build a health care system that puts women and their lived experiences at its center, one where no woman or girl has to hear that ‘it’s all in your head,’ or, ‘it’s just stress;’ where women aren’t just an after-thought, but a first-thought; and where women don’t just survive, they lead long, healthy, and happy lives.”   

In the coming weeks, specific topics developed by ARPA-H Program Managers will be announced as part of a new request for solutions (RS) funding opportunity. The forthcoming RS will solicit ideas for novel groundbreaking research and development to address women’s health, as well as opportunities to accelerate and scale tools, products, and platforms with potential for commercialization to improve women’s health outcomes.  

“Despite making up half the population, women are dramatically underrepresented in scientific and health research, including when it comes to coronary and autoimmune issues,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Through ARPA-H, we mean to tackle this health challenge with investments to advance both our knowledge of and available medical treatments for conditions unique to women.” 

Through the upcoming RS, ARPA-H will bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers, clinicians, technology experts, and others to accelerate solutions contributing toward the agency’s mission and create a range of investments that encompass disease- agnostic and non-traditional research approaches. Today’s announcement will be followed by a virtual ARPA-H Proposers’ Day in March, where potential performers can learn more about the funding opportunity. ARPA-H expects awardees to use innovative approaches to enable revolutionary advances in women’s health through delivering progress in science, technology, or systems.  

“Barriers to women’s health research can and must be lifted by organizations like ARPA-H,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, PhD. “The ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health intends to fundamentally change the trajectory of women’s health care and radically accelerate the next generation of discoveries that range from early laboratory proofs of concept that may impact future generations, to products that are ready to be commercialized and launched to start improving women’s health today. To succeed, we need innovative ideas from a diverse mix of visionaries from across the country and across sectors to improve the lives of millions of women.” 

This effort will advance the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research and will help spur the type of innovation and private sector engagement that we have long needed to improve women’s health. The initiative complements the vital work of HHS to improve women’s health, including the National Institutes of Health, Office of Research on Women’s Health, Office on Women’s Health, Office of Minority Health, Indian Health Service, Health Resources and Services Administration, and others. 

Learn more about the ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health, including how to register for the virtual Proposers’ Day. Multiple awards under this RS are anticipated. Resources available will depend on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds. Exact award amounts depend on meeting aggressive milestones, typical to the ARPA-H model. Awardees and potential additional funding opportunities will be announced later in the year. 

The ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health will be conducted in collaboration with the Investor Catalyst (IC) Hub of ARPANET-H, the agency’s nationwide health innovation network that connects people, innovators, and institutions to accelerate better health outcomes for everyone. Organizations interested in becoming a part of the IC Hub can learn more on the IC Hub website.  

This news release was published by ARPA-H on February 21, 2024.