Creating the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA)

Author: Michael Stebbins and Geoff Ling


The Biden-Harris administration can directly address the massive market failures at the center of our healthcare enterprise by establishing a new Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—the agency the Department of Defense uses to build new capabilities for national defense. HARPA will leverage existing basic science research programs supported by taxpayer dollars, and the efforts of the private sector, to develop new capabilities for disease prevention, detection, and treatment and overcome the bottlenecks that have historically limited progress. 

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About the Authors

Dr. Michael Stebbins is a geneticist, and public policy expert who served as the Assistant Director for Biotechnology in the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is currently the President of Science Advisors, a science and health consulting firm he founded in 2018 to provide science, technology, and public policy guidance to private companies, philanthropies, and non-profit organizations. While at the White House, Dr. Stebbins' work led to large initiatives across the Federal government to address antibiotic resistance, protect pollinators, improve veterans’ mental health, increase access to federally funded scientific research publications and data, promote the preferential purchasing of antibiotic free meats, reform the regulatory system for biotechnology products, drive Federal purchasing of bio-based products, and improve the management of scientific collections. Dr. Stebbins previously served as the Vice President of Science and Technology for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, science advisor to the Obama Presidential Campaign, and on the Obama White House Transition Team. He is the former director of biology policy for the Federation of American Scientists and worked for U.S. Senator Harry Reid and at the National Human Genome Research Institute. Before coming to Washington, he was a senior editor at Nature Genetics.

Dr. Geoffrey Ling is a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, an attending neuro-critical care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the acting Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Inova Fairfax Hospital, co-leader of The BrainHealth Project at the University of Texas at Dallas, and CEO of Ling and Associates. He was the Founding Director of the Biological Technologies Office at DARPA and served as the Assistant Director for Medical Innovation in President Obama’s White House Office of Science, Technology and Policy.  While serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Dr. Ling was deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and Iraq in 2005 and had four in-theater missions between 2009-2011 for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to assess TBI care in the combat theater. Dr. Ling has a medical degree from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in neuropharmacology from Cornell University.