Focused Research Organizations to Accelerate Science, Technology, and Medicine

Authors: Samuel G. Rodriques, Adam H. Marblestone


The next administration should rapidly create new Focused Research Organizations (FROs) to tackle scientific and technological challenges that cannot be efficiently addressed by standard organizational structures including academia, industry, National Laboratories, or Advanced Research Project Agencies (e.g., DARPA). FROs would be independent from existing universities or labs, focused on a single basic science or technology problem, and organized similarly to a startup. FROs would fill a key structural gap in our nation’s research and development (R&D) system, enabling major advances in areas that (i) require levels of coordinated engineering or system-building inaccessible to academia, (ii) benefit society broadly in ways that industry cannot rapidly monetize, and (iii) harbor opportunities for acceleration through innovative new technologies and processes. Each FRO would produce a well-defined tool or technology, a key scientific dataset, or a refined process or resource that would dramatically boost progress and help maintain U.S. competitiveness in a broad technological or scientific field. Relevant areas for FROs include brain mapping, climate technology, biological tool and reagent development, data generation for preventative medicine, novel antibiotic development, nanofabrication, and more.

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About the Author

Sam Rodriques is an entrepreneur, biotechnologist, and inventor. He is founding the Applied Biotechnology Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in the winter of 2021. He has founded multiple medical-device companies and obtained his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Hertz Foundation Fellow.

Adam Marblestone is a Schmidt Futures Innovation Fellow and a Senior Fellow with the Federation of American Scientists. He was previously a research scientist at Google DeepMind, was the Chief Strategy Officer of the brain-computer interface company Kernel, and co-founded BioBright LLC. He has been recognized with a Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 Award. He received a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University as a Hertz Foundation Fellow.