Biden chooses Monica Bertagnoli to lead the National Institutes of Health


WASHINGTON — President Biden announced Monday that he will run Dr. Monica M. Bertagnolia cancer surgeon who became director of the National Cancer Institute in October, to be the next director of the National Institutes of Health, filling a position that had been vacant for more than a year.

Dr. Bertagnoli is also a cancer patient. It announced late last year that it did He got the diagnosis early breast cancer.

In a statement, Mr. Biden called her a “world-class clinician” who “has spent her career groundbreaking scientific discovery and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to improve cancer prevention and treatment for patients, making sure that patients throughout society have access to quality care.”

Dr. Bertagnoli, 64, will need Senate approval. She is the first woman to direct the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. She will be only the second woman to lead the National Institutes of Health on a permanent basis.

For Mr. Biden, cancer research is deeply personal. his eldest son, Beau Biden, He died of brain cancer In 2015 at the age of 46. Last year, President Set a goal to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years—part of an effort, he said then, to “increase” Moonshot program for cancer Initiated and headed when he was vice president.

On Monday, Mr. Biden commended Dr. Bertagnolli for driving this initiative and for her efforts to advance research on childhood cancers and her programs to expand access to cancer clinical trials.

The announcement of her choice did not come as a surprise. A number of news organizations, including The New York Times, I mentioned last month That the President planned to nominate Dr. Bertagnoli. It is not clear what caused the delay.

Fighting cancer is also a personal matter for Dr. Bertagnoli. In mid-December, she announced her diagnosis and said she was “grateful to receive excellent care” at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she served as a surgical oncologist before becoming head of the National Cancer Institute.

She said afterwards that her prognosis was good and that she had enrolled in a clinical trial. in Interview with NPR In February, she said she was still in treatment.

“I went to my regular mammogram, expecting it to be negative like all the others, and I got a nasty surprise,” she said. “Now I know what it’s like.” She added, “The first thing I asked my doctors about was, Is there anything available to me? And there was a study available to me, and I signed it.”

Only one woman Dr.. Bernadine B. HaileyAppointed by President George H. W. Bush, he led the National Institutes of Health on a permanent basis. Dr. Ruth Kirchsteina longtime federal scientist and NIH administrator, served two terms as acting director of the agency.

If confirmed, Dr. Bertagnoli will replace Dr. Lawrence A. Tabac, who has assumed acting leadership of the agency since its last permanent director, Dr. Francis S. Collins, leave office in December 2021. An appointee by President Barack Obama, Dr. Collins has served in this position for over 12 years.

As Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Bertagnoli will lead one of the world’s leading research agencies, a group of 27 institutes and centers focused on cancer, infectious diseases, heart and lung disease, mental health, and substance abuse, among other medical issues. With an annual budget of more than $47 billion, the National Institutes of Health funds research around the world.

The daughter of Basque Italian and French immigrants, Dr. Bertagnoli grew up on a farm in southwestern Wyoming, studied engineering as an undergraduate at Princeton University and attended the University of Utah School of Medicine. Prior to joining the Federal Government, she was Professor of Surgery specializing in Surgical Oncology at Harvard Medical School.


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