Dr. Renee Wegrzyn serves as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), appointed on Oct. 11 by President Joseph R. Biden. Previously, Wegrzyn served as a vice president of business development at Ginkgo Bioworks and head of innovation at Concentric by Ginkgo, where she focused on applying synthetic biology to outpace infectious diseases – including COVID-19 – through biomanufacturing, vaccine innovation and biosurveillance of pathogens at scale.Wegrzyn comes to ARPA-H with experience working for two of the institutions that inspired the creation of the agency – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).As a program manager in the DARPA Biological Technologies Office, Wegrzyn leveraged the tools of synthetic biology and gene editing to enhance biosecurity, support the domestic bioeconomy and thwart biothreats. Her DARPA portfolio included the Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules, Safe Genes; Preemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE); and the Detect it with Gene Editing Technologies (DIGET) programs.Wegrzyn received the Superior Public Service Medal for her work and contributions at DARPA. Prior to joining DARPA, she led technical teams in private industry in the areas of biosecurity, gene therapies, emerging infectious disease, neuromodulation, synthetic biology, as well as research and development teams commercializing multiplex immunoassays and peptide-based disease diagnostics.Wegrzyn served on the scientific advisory boards for the National Academies Standing Committee on Biotechnology Capabilities and National Security Needs, National Academies of Science Board on Army Research and Development, Revive & Restore, Air Force Research Labs, Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Innovative Genomics Institute. She holds doctoral and bachelor’s degrees in applied biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, was a fellow in the Center for Health Security Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative and completed her postdoctoral training as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in Heidelberg, Germany.