Bright ousted as BARDA director, joins NIH

Rick Bright has left his position as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response and has joined NIH to work on the development of COVID-19 diagnostics. 

Gary Disbrow will serve as the acting director of BARDA. Disbrow is director of HHS’s Division of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures. 

The transfer is “part of a bold plan to accelerate the development and deployment of novel point-of-care testing platforms,” an HHS spokesperson told BioCentury. 

Current and former government officials, however, said Bright’s departure from BARDA is the fallout from long-simmering personal disputes within the Trump administration. They described a “poisonous” atmosphere in which individuals and factions within HHS, the White House and NIH are jockeying for position. The disputes, sources said, are distracting attention from the fight against COVID-19. 

Bright joined BARDA and was named deputy assistant secretary in November 2016.

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