Joe Biden, America’s nominal president, signed legislation on Thursday to fund research on neurogenerative disorders such as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In the process, he made an ironic gaffe that shows once again the the president may be battling such issues himself.
“The Defense Department has something called the Defense Advanced Research Agency, DARPA,” Biden said. Either the teleprompter didn’t say “Projects” or he forgot to read it.
The legislation was part of a bipartisan effort called the “Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act.” During a bill signing event on Thursday, he said the legislation was possible “because of the movement led by the patients and caregivers and members of Congress of both parties.”
Lou Gehrig’s disease, known formally as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is “a devastating disease that affects the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary movements,” according to WebMD. “The muscles become progressively weaker, eventually leading to paralysis and death,” the medical website notes.
This is not the first time that President Biden has referred to DARPA. In April, the White House also proposed creating two DARPA-like agencies that would spearhead sensitive research.
“President Joe Biden released his request for discretionary funding for fiscal year 2022 on Friday (April 9), with a number of proposed increases to science organizations,” The Scientist reported. “On top of a boost to existing research and development programs, Biden also calls for the creation of high-risk, high-reward agencies that would operate in much the same way as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), but would tackle problems in health and climate.”
“DARPA is known for developing technologies for defense-related problems through visionary ‘blue sky’ thinking that isn’t confined to what is immediately realistic or attainable,” the report continues. “It is unburdened by the typical constraints of grant applications and bureaucratic red tape, giving its researchers the liberty to pursue projects that might not have a guaranteed payoff.”
“As part of a proposed $9 billion increase to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Biden administration has earmarked $6.5 billion to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H) modeled after DARPA,” the report added. “Initially, the agency would focus on innovative treatments in cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a White House press release.”
There is no better spokesperson to lead that fight than Joe Biden.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.