Biden to Nominate NCI Director Bertagnolli to Lead NIH

May 15, 2023
A surgical oncologist, Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., led recent launch of the National Cancer Plan

President Biden has announced that he intends to nominate Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., to become director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A surgical oncologist, cancer researcher and educator, Bertagnolli has been serving as director of the National Cancer Institute for the past eight months.

“Dr. Bertagnolli has spent her career pioneering scientific discovery and pushing the boundaries of what is possible to improve cancer prevention and treatment for patients, and ensuring that patients in every community have access to quality care,” President Biden said in a statement.

Bertagnolli is the first woman to serve as NCI Director. She previously served as the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery in the field of surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment and Sarcoma Centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

She served as group chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a National Clinical Trials Network member organization, and was the CEO of Alliance Foundation Trials LLC, a not-for-profit corporation that conducts international cancer clinical trials and focuses on the inclusion of rural communities in clinical studies.

She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, a past president and chair of the board of directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and has served on the board of directors of the American Cancer Society and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. 

The daughter of first-generation Italian and French Basque immigrants, Dr. Bertagnolli grew up on a ranch in southwestern Wyoming. She graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree and attended medical school at the University of Utah. She trained in surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was a research fellow in tumor immunology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Clifford A. Hudis, M.D., CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology issued a statement saying that Bertagnolli’s “experience in all aspects of medical research, clinical care, and commitment to advancing science, as well as her own experience as a patient, make her an ideal leader for the nation’s top federal medical research agency at this exciting time in science. Her role shepherding the ambitious Cancer Moonshot initiative, including the recent launch of the National Cancer Plan, clearly demonstrates her ability to take an inspiring vision and create real and meaningful action.”

“In her 8-month teure as National Cancer Institute Director, Dr. Bertagnolli quickly demonstrated her strategic and comprehensive approach to accelerating progress in cancer prevention, detection and treatment,” said Karen E. Knudsen, M.B.A., Ph.D., CEO of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), in a statement. “Among her accomplishments in the last half year, Dr. Bertagnolli released a robust National Cancer Plan, laying out an inspired roadmap to advance the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, to end cancer as we know it.”

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