Senate Confirms NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli
WASHINGTON — Monica Bertagnolli, an expert in the role gene mutation and inflammation play in the growth of cancer, has been confirmed to be the next director of the National Institutes of Health.
The Senate vote on Tuesday was 62-36 in favor of Bertagnolli’s nomination, making her the second woman to ascend to the directorship of the $48 billion agency, which oversees 27 separate institutes.
The vote green-lighting President Joe Biden’s choice to run the NIH comes nearly two years after the former director, Francis Collins, retired.
Biden selected Bertagnolli, a native of Wyoming, in May, after conducting an extended nationwide search for a new director.
At the time she was just eight months into her appointment to lead the National Cancer Institute. Her nomination also came six months after she announced her own diagnosis of early stage breast cancer.
Earlier this year, the heads of 115 organizations representing the scientific enterprise and medical communities sent a letter to Senate leadership expressing their support for Bertagnolli and urging the chamber to swiftly advance her nomination.
Before voting in favor of Bertagnolli’s confirmation, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called the nominee “an excellent choice to lead the agency” and said her credentials went “far beyond her record of accomplishment as an oncologist.”
“She is a respected researcher and a proven leader,” Murray said.
Prior to starting work as the 16th director of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022, Bertagnolli served as the Richard E. Wilson professor of Surgery in the field of surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School.
Earlier still, she was a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment and Sarcoma Centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
According to her bio on the cancer institute’s website, Bertagnolli led gastrointestinal science initiatives from 1994 to 2011 within the NCI-funded Cooperative Groups Program (now known as NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network), and from 2011 to 2022 served as group chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a National Clinical Trials Network member organization.
In addition, from 2007 to 2018, she served as the chief of the division of Surgical Oncology for the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.
Bertagnolli is 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.
In 2021, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, having previously served on the National Academies National Cancer Policy Forum.