According to an administration official, President Biden intends to propose Dr. Monica M. Bertagnolli for the position of Director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Bertagnolli is an oncologist who has been in charge of the National Cancer Institute for the last six months. She is also a cancer survivor.
If she receives confirmation from the Senate, Dr. Bertagnolli would be only the second woman in the history of the medical research organisation to hold the position of director on a permanent basis since the institution’s inception in the late 1800s. The National Cancer Institute, which is a division of the National Institutes of Health, has never before had a woman in charge of its operations.
According to the administration source, the White House is planning to make an announcement on her pick in the coming days. A representative for the White House refused to comment, citing the fact that a decision about the new director had not yet been made. The Wall Street Journal was the first publication to break the news that she had been chosen by Mr. Biden.
In October, Dr. Bertagnolli was appointed to the position of director of the National Cancer Institute, often known as the N.C.I. Two months later, she made the announcement that she had been diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer and that she would begin treatment at the Brigham. Prior to entering the federal government, she had served as a surgical oncologist at both of these institutions. She said that her outlook was optimistic.
If his nomination is successful, Dr. Bertagnolli would be in charge of one of the most prestigious medical research organisations in the world. This organisation is a consortium of 27 distinct institutions and centres that do research on a broad range of medical issues, such as cancer, infectious diseases, heart and lung conditions, mental health, and drug misuse. The National Institutes of Health, which is a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, has a yearly budget of more than $47 billion, the majority of which is disbursed all over the globe to support fundamental medical research.
Dr. Francis S. Collins stepped down from his position as director at the end of 2021 after serving in that role for more than 12 years. Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak has been serving in an interim capacity since Dr. Francis S. Collins stepped down, and Dr. Bertagnolli would succeed Dr. Tabak.
Only one woman has ever held the position of director of the agency; Dr. Bernadine P. Healy, who was appointed to the position by President George H.W. Bush. However, Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, a lifelong federal scientist and N.I.H. administrator, has twice held the position of interim director.
Before accepting a position at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Bertagnolli held the position of professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, where he specialised in surgical oncology. Her previous studies focused on the gene mutation that is responsible for the development of gastrointestinal cancer, as well as the part that inflammation plays in the progression of cancer.
She is the founder and chairperson of Friends of Cancer Research, which is a research and advocacy organisation. Ellen V. Sigal said that she would be happy if the president chose Dr. Bertagnolli.