Biden Announces Special Nomination

On Monday, the White House announced its intent to nominate cancer surgeon Monica Bertagnolli to head up the National Institutes of Health after a 16-month search for a successor to former NIH director Francis Collins who stepped down in December 2021, Reuters reported.

If confirmed, Dr. Bertagnolli will become the second woman to head up the NIH.

In a statement on Monday, President Biden described Bertagnolli as a “world-class physician-scientist” who will ensure that the National Institutes of Health continues as the “engine of innovation” in improving the “health of the American people.”

In October 2022, Bertagnolli was appointed as director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute where she oversaw the National Cancer Plan, which aimed to reboot the “Cancer Moonshot” program that was first launched in 2016 by then-Vice President Biden.

Before that, Bertagnolli served as the head of surgical oncology at the top cancer research facility Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

Dr. Gerard Doherty, the Surgeon-in-Chief at Dana-Farber described Bertagnolli as “extraordinarily qualified” to lead the National Institutes of Health. Doherty said that Bertagnolli is great at “getting things done in complicated organizations.”

In December, Bertagnolli announced that she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer which would require surgery and other possible treatment. However, Bertagnolli said her prognosis was very good.

Dr. Francis Collins announced his resignation from NIH in October 2021. He was first appointed by then-President Barack Obama in 2009 after spending over a decade heading up the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH.

After his retirement in December 2021, principal deputy director Lawrence Tabak has been seeing to the duties of NIH director.

The National Institutes of Health is the world’s largest biomedical research agency, managing a budget of $45 billion in 2022. The NIH falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services.