In a landmark moment for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, steps into the role of the 17th director, marking a significant milestone for the biomedical research agency and a breakthrough for gender diversity in leadership. Dr. Bertagnolli, nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, becomes the first surgeon and the second woman to hold this prestigious position.
Vision for Equitable Healthcare
President Biden has commended Dr. Bertagnolli for her outstanding career dedicated to scientific discovery, highlighting her commitment to enhancing cancer prevention and treatment. Raised in rural Wyoming, Dr. Bertagnolli’s firsthand experience with the challenges of accessing medical care in underserved communities has influenced her dedication to equity. This commitment will drive her efforts to ensure NIH research is accessible to all, regardless of income or zip code.
Dr. Bertagnolli brings extensive experience, having served as the 16th director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Her key priorities include:
- Enhancing diversity in clinical trials.
- Harnessing cutting-edge analytical tools.
- Rebuilding trust in science across all communities.
- Emphasizing cross-cutting research, she aims to capitalize on commonalities among diseases, fostering collaboration across the 27 NIH institutes and centers.
A Legacy of Leadership
During her tenure as NCI Director, Dr. Bertagnolli led efforts to modernize cancer clinical trials, broadening participation and releasing the National Cancer Plan to establish specific cancer prevention and treatment goals. With over 35 years as a cancer surgeon and groundbreaking research in gene mutation and inflammation’s role in cancer growth, her qualifications for this crucial role are evident.
As the new NIH director, Dr. Bertagnolli is poised to drive innovation, promote health equity, and inspire the next generation of medical professionals. Her transformative vision aligns with the NIH’s mission to be a global medical research engine, ensuring a healthier future for all Americans. In her words, “As NIH director, I look forward to ensuring that NIH continues to be the steward of our nation’s medical research while engaging all people and communities in the research effort that includes informing medical practice that drives equitable access to health care for all.”