President Biden has selected Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, director of the National Cancer Institute, to lead the National Institutes of Health, the White House announced Monday.
Dr. Bertagnolli, a cancer surgeon, has overseen the National Cancer Institute for seven months and was diagnosed with a treatable form of breast cancer early in her tenure. The National Cancer Institute is the largest of the 27 institutes that are part of NIH, which has a $47 billion annual budget and plays a key role in funding research into new diseases and treatments.
Several news outlets reported last month that Dr. Bertagnolli would be the nominee.
“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,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden praised Dr. Bertagnolli’s work as director of the National Cancer Institute, where she was tasked with advancing Biden’s cancer moon shot, to “end cancer as we know it.”
NIH has not had a permanent director since December 2021, when longtime head Dr. Francis Collins retired. Dr. Bertagnolli would be the second woman to permanently lead the research agency if confirmed by the Senate.
Mark Becker, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, applauded the selection of Dr. Bertagnolli in a statement.
“Dr. Bertagnolli is a gifted surgeon and trailblazing research leader whose personal and professional experience positions her to lead NIH at a critical time,” Becker said. “Collaborating with public research universities and others, NIH plays an instrumental role in driving discoveries that prevent disease, improve quality of life, and save lives. We call on the Senate to quickly confirm Dr. Bertagnolli and look forward to working with her as she works to enhance the world’s leading biomedical research agency.”
Likewise, the Association of American Medical Colleges commended the pick in a statement. More than half of the research that NIH supports occurs at AAMC member institutions, per the statement.
“Over its history, the NIH has enjoyed a strong tradition of exceptional leaders,” the statement says. “The AAMC strongly believes that Dr. Bertagnolli will build on that longstanding legacy to take the NIH to new heights as the agency works to improve the health of people everywhere.”