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“Need to design an organization that transcends national and academic disciplines for innovation in the health sector”

“Need to design an organization that transcends national and academic disciplines for innovation in the health sector”

Posted September. 28, 2022 07:38,   

Updated October. 05, 2022 16:51

Regina Dugan, CEO of Wellcome Leap (pictured), said in a written interview with the Dong-A Ilbo on the 26th. Dugan served as the 19th Director of DARPA.

Regina Dugan, CEO Wellcome Leap

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a key research and development organization under the U.S. Department of Defense, manages and supervises various R&D projects for defense policy. It was here that the first Internet was developed in the 1960s while studying military networks. DARPA is a research organization that benchmarks in countries around the world because it can promote projects that are expensive and prone to failure, but can lead to breakthrough military development if successful. The US government also established ARPA-H (Medical Advanced Research Projects Agency), which applied the DARPA model to the health care field.

The Korean government is also promoting the establishment of a Korean-style ARPA-H as a national task that will allow the spread of advanced biotechnology to public health by referring to the DARPA model. Among the various international organizations that have benchmarked DARPA, Wellcome Leap, which supports R&D in the health sector, is worth paying attention to. Wellcome Leap is a non-profit organization founded by the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable organization in the UK, in 2020 to solve global challenges in human health.

Wellcome Leap builds and executes bold, unconventional programs to advance human health. Dugan, CEO of Wellcome Leap said "Leap takes a multi-disciplinary, multi-organizational, and multi-national approach, cultivating teams of scientists and engineers working together to solve problems they cannot solve alone."

Wellcome Leap's approach is underpinned by its' global network, the Wellcome Leap Health Breakthrough Network. With more than 90 organizations representing a network of over 750,000 researchers, scientists and engineers across six continents. It is, arguably, the fastest, most readily "activatable" research network in the world. Dugan said, " Different to DARPA, however, Wellcome Leap was not designed to serve any one country's strategic interests. Leap was established to enable a global orchestra of performers to solve global challenges, meaning we have had to reimagine goals, networks, program managers and deadlines in a global context. Putting such an entity in place requires innovative approaches that go beyond national borders and beyond public vs. private funding."

What is important for the successful development of the Korean ARPA-H model?

Dugan emphasized the need for an innovative approach to financing and support systems as it is an organization that did not exist before. " It is important to understand that the enduring attributes of the DARPA model do not guarantee a breakthrough; rather, they are designed to improve the odds of getting one. In this respect, it is not sufficient to increase resources alone; it is also necessary to create structures required to deploy those resources in ways that challenge conventional wisdom. Notably, if you create an organization to challenge conventional wisdom, you can't be surprised when it challenges conventional wisdoms. This includes everything from who gets to make decisions, to how funds & IP are handled."

Go-Ya Choi best@donga.com