November 17, 2023

Senate appoints oncologist, cancer researcher as NIH director

By: Brita Belli

Editor's Note

The US Senate has appointed Monica Bertagnolli, MD, as the new director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the agency’s first permanent leader in nearly 2 years and the second woman to hold the post. She is expected to face significant scrutiny from lawmakers, Chief Healthcare Executive November 9 reports.

Dr Bertagnolli is an oncologist and cancer researcher, and formerly the director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute. She is battling breast cancer herself, and says her prognosis is favorable because it was detected early.

The science and research community applauded the choice, and more than 100 science organizations signed a letter to Senate leaders supporting her nomination. Those who opposed the nomination, however, say they are concerned about Bertagnolli’s ability to stand up to Big Pharma. 

Dr Bertagnolli will be overseeing a $48 billion NIH budget and will be challenged in increasing the agency’s funding, with a debt ceiling agreement in place that limits spending on civilian programs. For her part, she has pledged to expand diversity efforts at the NIH, including in clinical trial participation, and to help restore public trust in science.


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