The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has joined the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) in submitting comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) on the new Advanced Research Project Agency – Health (ARPA-H). OSTP and NIH are currently developing a scientific framework to outline the new agency’s potential research priorities and scientific portfolio.
The groups stressed the importance of biodiversity collections in improving the understanding of the linkage between biodiversity and human health. “An important contribution to human health lies in preserving and documenting biological diversity,” wrote the groups. “The development of break-through technologies and broadly applicable platforms, capabilities, resources, and solutions with respect to biodiversity will yield substantial benefits to human health if appropriate investments are made.”
The comments also stressed the importance of peer review. “The OSTP and NIH must ensure that the research supported through ARPA-H undergoes independent peer review in order to ensure that its work is of the highest quality and to sustain public trust in its scientific work. It is important to establish mechanisms to prevent the politicization of research funding by ensuring that grant review processes are independent and based on scientific merit.”