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UMD Research Scientist Tapped to Lead New Federal Health Agency

By Sara Gavin

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has appointed Adam Russell, chief scientist at the University of Maryland’s Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security (ARLIS), to serve as acting deputy director of the new Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

Proposed by President Biden to improve the U.S. government’s ability to speed biomedical and health research, ARPA-H was established by law on March 15 and will operate as an independent entity within the National Institutes of Health.

Russell will guide the early stages of building the agency’s administrative structure and oversee the hiring of initial operational staff before returning to UMD.

“My job as acting deputy director is to further empower our excellent ARPA-H team to get the ship ready to sail, so that the inaugural director can get started from day one on accomplishing ARPA-H's mission to make ambitious investments in new approaches that can advance the health and well-being of all Americans,” he said. “It's an awesome responsibility to be invited to contribute to an organization that we all hope will transform the larger health ecosystem.”

Russell has technical and management experience in disciplines ranging from cognitive neuroscience and physiology to cultural psychology and social anthropology. He spent more than a decade as a program manager at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In addition to his role at ARLIS, one of 14 Department of Defense University Affiliated Research Centers, Russell holds an adjunct faculty position in the UMD Department of Psychology.

Parts of this article were taken from a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services news release.

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