Biden plans to nominate Dr. Monica Bertagnolli at NIH

Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, a cancer researcher, is Biden's pick to lead the agency.

May 15, 2023, 12:10 PM

President Joe Biden said Monday he intends to nominate a new director for the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, a surgical oncologist and cancer researcher, was picked by Biden as the successor to Francis Collins.

"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," Biden said in a statement. "As Director of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Bertagnolli has advanced my Cancer Moonshot to end cancer as we know it."

The statement continued, "She has brought together partners and resources from different sectors to launch groundbreaking efforts in cancer prevention and early detection, a national navigation program for childhood cancers, and additional programs to bring clinical trials to more Americans. Dr. Bertagnolli is a world-class physician-scientist whose vision and leadership will ensure NIH continues to be an engine of innovation to improve the health of the American people."

Bertagnolli will be the second woman as NIH director if her nomination is confirmed. She will replace Collins, who left the agency in December 2021 after 12 years with the agency. Lawrence Tabak has been serving as interim director while Biden searches for a new pick.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra released a statement congratulating Bertagnolli on her nomination.

"I congratulate Dr. Bertagnolli on her nomination to lead the NIH," the statement read. Her storied scientific career has advanced our nation's understanding of diseases such as cancer and established her as one of the top scientists in the world. She is one of the most powerful voices in the country for cancer patients, particularly for those in rural and remote communities."

According to her biography on the White House website, Bertagnolli grew up on a ranch in Wyoming before attending Princeton University for undergraduate studies and the University of Utah for graduate studies.

Previously, Bertagnoli was a professor of surgery 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.

In December 2022, Bertagnolli announced that she was diagnosed with early breast cancer but her prognosis was "favorable."

"Having been an oncologist my entire career, it was always -- and still is -- all about the patients and survivors," she said. "It's one thing to know about cancer as a physician, but it is another to experience it firsthand as a patient as well. To anyone with cancer today: I am truly in this together with you."

CORRECTION: Dr. Fauci was the director of NIAID, a division of the NIH. Pres. Biden says he intends to nominate Dr. Monica Bertagnolli as the new director for the NIH.