Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to appoint Dr. Monica Bertagnolli as the 16th  – and first woman – Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). President Biden’s announcement comes before he signs the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, which expands VA health care and benefits for toxic exposed veterans facing illnesses like cancer.

Dr. Bertagnolli joins NCI at a time of renewed attention to the Cancer Moonshot, one of President Biden’s signature initiatives – reignited in February with bold new goals to reduce the cancer death rate by at least 50 percent in the United States over the next 25 years and create a more supportive experience for patients and families. Dr. Bertagnolli lends to this effort one of the most powerful voices in the country for cancer patients, particularly for those in rural and remote communities, with a history of advancing patient-focused programs that incorporate learnings directly from patient experiences to build more inclusive models of care.

“I look forward to working with Dr. Bertagnolli to advance the President’s call to end cancer as we know it. Dr. Bertagnolli’s decades of cancer research expertise around patient-centered care and her work to create more inclusive clinical trials will be instrumental as we accelerate the rate of research and innovation to fight cancer,” said Secretary Xavier Becerra, U.S. Health and Human Services. “Cancer knows no bounds and neither should our efforts to prevent cancer deaths. Together, we will reignite and advance the President’s Cancer Moonshot initiative to save lives.”

Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, Director of the National Cancer Institute
Dr. Bertagnolli currently serves as the Richard E. Wilson professor of surgery in the field of surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School as well as a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the top cancer hospitals in the world.

Throughout her career, Dr. Bertagnolli has been at the forefront of the field of clinical oncology, advancing, in particular, current understanding of the gene that promotes gastrointestinal cancer development. As a physician-scientist, she led gastrointestinal science initiatives from 1994 to 2011 within the NCI-funded Cancer Cooperative Groups. In addition, from 2007-2018, she served as the chief of the division of Surgical Oncology for the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center. 

Over the past five years, Dr. Bertagnolli has championed collaborative initiatives to transform the data infrastructure for clinical research and is as the founding chair of the minimal Common Oncology Data Elements (mCODE) executive committee. She also is a past president and chair of the board of directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and has served on the board of directors of the American Cancer Society and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. A native of southwestern Wyoming, Dr. Bertagnolli graduated from Princeton University and attended medical school at the University of Utah. She trained in surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was a research fellow in tumor immunology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute


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