The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has opened a new office known as the Division for Research, Innovation and Ventures (DRIVe), which has been tasked with creating public-private partnerships to detect and battle infectious diseases before they become epidemics.

hhs-creates-drive-initiative“It takes too long to recognize when a disease, virus or biological threat has entered a community, to understand the scope of the problem, and to provide enough medicines and healthcare in the right place, at the right time, to mitigate the damage,” HHS announced in a statement.

The DRIVe office is forging a network of private partners, known as accelerators, who will help develop new technologies and treatments that can alert people when they have been infected with a bacteria or virus even before they begin to feel sick.

“This approach will help startups and other businesses shape the next generation of lifesaving technology and transform health security,” Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said in a statement.” That innovation is crucial to protecting Americans and saving lives.”

Accelerators will seek out innovative artificial intelligence tools and products that can be developed to solve challenges in healthcare that go beyond traditional vaccine and drug development.

Focus on Sepsis

DRIVe is also focused on finding a treatment for sepsis, a condition that develops in response to infection or traumatic injury. Sepsis causes 250,000 deaths in the U.S. annually and costs approximately $24 billion a year to treat.

HHS has already selected eight institutions as accelerators and awarded them more than $500,000 to begin.