The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO, by a vote of 62-36, on November, 7, 2023, as the 17th director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Dr. Bertagnolli is currently director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She served as president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) from 2018-2019 and is an accomplished cancer surgeon and researcher with deep expertise in community-based cancer research. In addition to leading the NCI, Dr. Bertagnolli also played a critical role in elevating the goals of the Cancer Moonshot initiative through the comprehensive National Cancer Plan.
During her October 18 Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. Bertagnolli shared her vision for leading the nation’s top research agency, which included supporting research that is equitable and accessible to all populations, capitalizing on new discoveries in health information technology and data analytics, and embracing and increasing access to innovation.
“I have seen the transformative power of NIH research to produce results that save lives,” Dr. Bertagnolli said. “But I've also seen the patients whose prospects were compromised by preventable factors. We should be able to guarantee that the American people are getting a return on their investment by ensuring that health care innovations are available and affordable for everyone.”
She also addressed questions from members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on a variety of pressing health care issues. Discussions included the obesity epidemic, opioids, rural health care access, inflammation in disease, affordable care, global health, clinical trial diversity, and diversity in the workforce.
“I look forward to partnering with Congress and many others to advance discovery and apply the results of our research to better the lives of every American,” she said.
The Society and Association for Clinical Oncology issued a statement November 7 celebrating Dr. Bertagnolli’s confirmation.
“Dr. Bertagnolli’s experience in all aspects of medical research, clinical care, and commitment to advancing science, as well as her own experience as a patient, make her the ideal leader for NIH and we know that she will accomplish remarkable things during this exciting time in science,” said ASCO CEO Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO. “As she shared in her confirmation hearing, she is a tireless advocate for increasing access to health care in rural areas, challenging the status quo and working to remove barriers to patient participation in clinical research."
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