The Advanced Research and Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H) has recently hired Alastair Thomson to serve part-time as its senior advisor for data technology innovation.

For the last 13 years Thomson has served at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), most recently in the chief information officer (CIO) post.

“I’m excited to share that I’m starting a new 50% detail as Senior Advisor for Data Technology Innovation at Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health,” Thomson wrote on his LinkedIn last week.

Thomson is on 50 percent detail to ARPA-H – meaning he will temporarily serve part-time as the agency’s senior advisor and continue to spend the other half of his time as NHLBI’s CIO. He wrote in the comments of his social media post that this will be the case “at least for the next few months.”

According to his LinkedIn, Thomson’s new position at ARPA-H will involve working to define and build a new-generation data infrastructure in support of the agency’s programs with a focus on innovation, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, digital twins, and cloud-based analytics.

Thomson has held his CIO position at NHLBI since 2013, where he has worked “to support the research mission of the NHLBI with information technology.” He began his stint in Federal IT in 2002 at NIH.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially launched ARPA-H – which sits within NIH as an independent entity – in May of last year. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra explained by having a separate agency dedicated to advanced disease research within NIH, ARPA-H will be able to “accelerate” health breakthroughs and build upon NIH’s existing research portfolio.

President Biden made ARPA-H official through the fiscal year 2022 omnibus appropriations bill, which included $1 billion to create the new agency. Dr. Renee Wegrzyn currently serves as the inaugural director of ARPA-H.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.