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US news roundup: 18-24 March


This week: regional R&D inequalities, Arpa-H arguments and support for bomb-threatened Black institutions

In depth: A new technology wing of the United States funding agency for non-medical sciences, the National Science Foundation, has launched with the aim to capitalise on the market potential of research results.

Full story: US National Science Foundation technology wing takes flight

Also this week from Research Professional News

Anticipating Arpa-H—The Biden administration’s plans for a radical research agency devoted to health are taking shape

Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Congressional leaders urged to act on regional R&D inequalities

Senators from both major parties have urged leaders in Congress not to row back on proposed legislation that would see R&D funds set aside for 25 states that receive low levels of investment. “Severe regional inequities in federal research investment persist,” wrote the senators, adding that the current distribution of funds “perpetuates geographic disparities in research capacity, technology development, and economic opportunity”. Leaders of both houses of Congress are preparing to negotiate over legislation that would boost US R&D spending.

Parties split over next steps for Arpa-H

The top Republican on the House of Representatives health committee said there is “no consensus” on the need for a new research agency for medical breakthroughs, which was granted a $1 billion budget in 2022 by Congress. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health lacks a “clear mission” and that lawmakers “should all want to make sure that money for research isn’t wasted”. But the Democratic chair of the committee, Frank Pallone, said Arpa-H “has the potential to be transformative”, urging committee members to pass legislation to fully establish the agency.

White House offers funding to HBCUs after bomb threats

The White House has said that historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that have been receiving bomb threats are eligible for additional funding. In recent months, more than a third of HBCUs have received bomb threats, although to date no explosive devices have been found. The extra funding of between $50,000 and $150,000 per institution will be directed towards immediate needs, such as targeted mental-health support or enhanced security. Vice-president Kamala Harris also announced resources for institutions on detecting, preventing and recovering from threats, saying “intimidation will not stand, and we will not be intimidated”