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Director of agency behind vaccine development leaves role

Director of agency behind vaccine development leaves role
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The director of the federal agency that invests in vaccines, drugs and diagnostics to combat infectious diseases has departed.

Rick Bright is no longer director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), according to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson. 

Instead, Bright will move to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  

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Bright's departure was first reported by Stat.

BARDA is a small agency within HHS that was created in 2006 to help invest in drug and vaccine development projects for pandemic diseases such as Ebola and Zika.

The agency is expected to be at the forefront of public-private partnerships to develop a treatment for COVID-19. The most recent stimulus bill gives the agency an additional $1 billion to research, develop, manufacture and purchase COVID-19-related materials.

"Given the simultaneous importance of accelerating the development of diagnostic tests for COVID-19, Dr. Rick Bright will transfer the skills he has applied as Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to the National Institutes of Health, as part of a bold plan to accelerate the development and deployment of novel point-of-care testing platforms," the HHS spokesperson said. 

An NIH spokesperson clarified that Bright will be working to accelerate the development and deployment of new point-of-care coronavirus testing platforms.

Gary Disbrow with HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will serve as the acting director of BARDA, the agency said.   

Updated at 6:18 p.m.