National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Cardiologist Nakela Cook, M.D., to Lead PCORI

Jan. 15, 2020
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute recently had its funding reauthorized by Congress for 10 years

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), which in December had its funding reauthorized by Congress for 10 years, announced that cardiologist Nakela Cook, M.D., M.P.H., has been named the organization’s next executive director, succeeding founding Executive Director Joe Selby, M.D., M.P.H., who retired after more than eight years at PCORI.

Cook, whose appointment was announced by PCORI Board of Governors Chairperson Christine Goertz, D.C., Ph.D., comes to PCORI from her role as a Senior Scientific Officer and Chief of Staff for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one of the largest institutes within the National Institutes of Health. She will assume her new position April 15, taking over leadership of PCORI from Interim Executive Director Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., who has held that post since Nov. 1, 2019.

Cook will lead PCORI’s research, dissemination and implementation, and engagement work as the organization enters its second decade of service to the nation. She will provide strategic and day-to-day oversight of ongoing programs as well as new initiatives designed to create a health care system that is more efficient, effective and patient centered.

In her current position, Cook oversees a staff of 1,000 and an annual budget of $3.2 billion. She has spearheaded the development and implementation of NHLBI’s research strategy and planning and implementing initiatives in precision medicine, data science, sickle cell disease and women’s health, ensuring that these initiatives meaningfully engaged patients, patient advocates, professional societies, policymakers and other stakeholder groups. Throughout her career, she has worked to enhance diversity and equity in research and care delivery and been a leader in efforts to reduce disparities in health access and outcomes.

“PCORI’s mission fully reflects my personal and professional values and commitment to promote excellence in health and healthcare in a way that is patient-centered and engages all parties to help us achieve shared goals,” she said in a statement. “As a clinician and researcher focused on improving patient outcomes, I can’t imagine a more exciting opportunity.”

In 2020, PCORI has announced it is making up to $76 million in funding available under two funding announcements focused on research. In this funding cycle it is particularly interested in proposals focused on two special areas of interest: maternal mortality and intellectual and developmental disabilities.