ARPA-H award takes step to address organ transplant shortages


Biden-Harris Administration announces major step to address organ transplant shortages through on-demand 3D tissue printing through ARPA-H award

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), today announced up to $26 million for a newly funded project, part of its Open Broad Agency Announcement (Open BAA), that aims to lay the groundwork for the development of 3D printed, fully-functional human organs. There are currently more than 100,000 people in the United States who are waiting for organs, such as hearts or kidneys, and tragically, more than 6,000 of these patients die each year due to lack of access to compatible organs. That number is in addition to the millions of Americans who need tissue – including corneas, skin, and cartilage – for grafts and transplants that could save or improve their lives

ARPA-H is taking a groundbreaking step in addressing this critical gap by launching the Health Enabling Advancements through Regenerative Tissue Printing (HEART) project with the goal of 3D-printing organs on demand, beginning with a human heart. Researchers at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California will work to improve cell purity, accelerate 3D bioprinting speed, and advance computation modeling and tissue maturation methods to achieve on-demand organ printing.

“The HEART Project has set the ambitious goal of 3D-printing a working human heart in one hour. The project represents exactly the kind of challenging and impactful topics ARPA-H is looking to support,” said ARPA-H Program Manager Paul Sheehan, Ph.D. “Multiple technology advances will be necessary for this project’s success, a success that could dramatically improve the lives of patients who would otherwise be on transplant wait lists.”

The HEART project is one award funded through the ARPA-H Open BAA, which seeks transformative ideas for health research or technology breakthroughs. Continued support of each award is contingent on projects meeting aggressive milestones. The Open BAA began accepting abstracts in March 2023 and is open until March 2024. Future projects will be funded on a rolling basis. To learn more about projects as they are awarded, visit the awardee page.