The National Institutes of Health has a new leader after the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday 62-36 to confirm Dr. Monica Bertagnolli to take over as the new NIH director.
Bertagnolli, who has been serving as the Director of the National Cancer Institute since October 2022, was nominated for the role by President Biden back in May. She takes over the job that has been held by Lawrence Tabak on an acting basis since December 2021.
Bertagnolli is a world-renowned surgical oncologist and cancer researcher, as well as an expert in clinical trials. She is also the first woman to lead the National Cancer Institute.
During Bertagnolli’s tenure at NCI, she helped develop the National Cancer Plan that outlined a long-term plan coordinating a national response to create better outcomes for cancer patients. The plan aligns with the reignited White House Cancer Moonshot Initiative and Biden's most-recent budget proposal requested $1 billion for Cancer Moonshot activities, including $7.8 billion for NCI.
“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 public statement. “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.”
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra also released a statement following Bertagnolli’s confirmation.
“As she has throughout her career, Dr. Bertagnolli will use her new role to advance our nation's understanding of disease and ensure that the groundbreaking research that NIH conducts will yield innovative and life-saving treatments,” Becerra said. “I have no doubt she will reimagine the boundaries of what is possible when it comes to what the NIH can achieve.”
“Raised in rural Wyoming, Dr. Bertagnolli knows firsthand that innovative medical care can only fulfill its promise if we get it to the people who need it,” Becerra added. “I am confident her leadership will spark medical breakthroughs that are life-changing and accessible to all Americans. The American people are fortunate to have Dr. Bertagnolli accept this challenge at this time. I look forward to working with her to do great things.”