President Joe Biden is set to announce on Monday a push to develop the nation’s biotechnology and biomanufacturing capabilities at a speech in Boston, one of the country’s major biotech hubs.
The Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative that Biden will create is aimed at ensuring the ingredients that pharmaceutical and other biotech companies use are made in the United States, according to the White House. Biden will also announce the first leader of the biomedical innovation-focused agency he created earlier this year.
The speech, elaborating on the cancer “moonshot” announced in the Obama-Biden administration, will take place at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library exactly 60 years after President Kennedy announced that the United States planned to put a man on the moon.
Home to companies like COVID vaccine creators Biogen and Moderna, the Boston area is one of the nation’s top biotech hubs, with graduates from the area’s top universities helping to fill rapidly expanding lab space all over the region.
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Nearly 10% of all National Institutes of Health funding comes to Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, leading the nation on a per-capita basis.
Before the cancer “moonshot” speech Monday afternoon, Biden will speak at Boston Logan International Airport’s Terminal E, which is being modernized, to discuss what the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is doing for Americans. And before flying back to Washington, Biden will attend a Democratic National Committee reception, according to his public schedule.
UMass Boston, which houses the library, was holding classes remotely Monday because of Biden’s visit. Boston and state police have advised the public about traffic impacts near the JFK Library in Dorchester and in downtown Boston Monday.
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“The BPD advises all Boston residents and visitors to plan accordingly for any traffic disruptions from these events,” Boston police said Sunday night.
The White House was positioning the president’s creation of the Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative as more than just a way to help fight cancer and speed other health care innovations.
“It will enable us to reinvent America’s supply chains, transitioning away from chemicals that rely on oil towards cleaner, safer and more reliable alternatives that we make right here at home,” a senior administration official told reporters.
Most of the country’s companies that work in biotech do their manufacturing abroad, according to the White House, but Biden’s order aims to build out a national infrastructure for that kind of manufacturing in the US – in much the same way that Kennedy’s speech helped build out the aerospace industry that delivered Apollo 11 to the moon. He’ll also announce that Renee Wegrzyn will be the first leader of ARPA-H, the biomedical innovation agency Biden created in March. Wegrzyn is an executive at Boston-based biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks who has previously worked on biotech at DARPA, the US defense industry’s innovation agency.