Dr. Monica Bertagnolli nominated to lead NIH


Kyra Meister

Photo credit: National Cancer Institute

Alexandria, Va. – President Biden announced this week his intent to nominate Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., FACS, to be the next director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Bertagnolli is currently serving as the director of the National Cancer Institute, the largest agency in the NIH.

Dr. Bertagnolli has valuable firsthand experience as both a cancer surgeon and patient that will serve her well in this role. She was the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery in the Field of Surgical Oncology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Centers at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

In December 2022, Dr. Bertagnolli announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine mammogram.

“It’s one thing to know about cancer as a physician, but it is another to experience it firsthand as a patient as well,” she said in a statement released at the time.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation has a long history with Dr. Bertagnolli, who was serving on the Foundation’s board of directors when she was selected as director of NCI. (In order to accept her role at NCI, Dr. Bertagnolli had to resign from all board positions.) She was also a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board. In 1997 and 2001, as a relatively junior researcher, Dr. Bertagnolli received funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation to support young researchers in her lab.

WATCH: Dr. Bertagnolli discusses the successful careers and impact made by scientists who were funded by the Prevent Cancer Foundation early in their careers.

“In our work with Dr. Bertagnolli, we have been able to see up close how committed she is to exploring innovative ideas, supporting early-career researchers, and keeping the patient top of mind. We know her dedication to the patient experience has only deepened after her own journey with cancer,” said Jody Hoyos, CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “We applaud President Biden for selecting Dr. Bertagnolli for this prestigious appointment and urge a quick nomination and confirmation process so she can begin the process of leading the NIH.”

In 2021, President Biden reignited the Cancer Moonshot, with ambitious goals to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years, improve the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer and ultimately “end cancer as we know it.” Dr. Bertagnolli has already made great strides in advancing President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot during her time as director of the NCI. The president’s intent to nominate Dr. Bertagnolli to lead the NIH will benefit patients and their families while ushering in a new era of innovation in oncology and across the entire health care continuum.

After President Biden’s nomination, Dr. Bertagnolli will need to be confirmed by the Senate. She would be only the second woman to lead the NIH on a permanent basis.


About the Prevent Cancer Foundation®

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is the only U.S.-based nonprofit organization solely dedicated to cancer prevention and early detection. Through research, education, outreach and advocacy, we have helped countless people avoid a cancer diagnosis or detect their cancer early enough to be successfully treated. We are driven by a vision of a world where cancer is preventable, detectable and beatable for all 

The Foundation is rising to meet the challenge of reducing cancer deaths by 40% by 2035. To achieve this, we are committed to investing $20 million for innovative technologies to detect cancer early and advance multi-cancer screening, $10 million to expand cancer screening and vaccination access to medically underserved communities, and $10 million to educate the public about screening and vaccination options.

For more information, please visit www.preventcancer.org.