Monica Bertagnolli

Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD

Director, National Institutes of Health

Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, is the 17th director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She was nominated by President Joe Biden on May 15, 2023, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 7, 2023, and took office on November 9, 2023. She is the first surgeon and second woman to hold the position. As the NIH Director, Dr. Bertagnolli oversees the work of the largest funder of biomedical and behavioral research in the world. She previously served as the 16th director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery in surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment and Sarcoma Centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Throughout her career, Dr. Bertagnolli has been at the forefront of the field of clinical oncology. Her laboratory focused on advancing our understanding of the genetic drivers of gastrointestinal cancer development and the role of inflammation as a promoter of cancer growth. As a physician–scientist, she led translational science initiatives from 1994 to 2011 within the NCI-funded Cooperative Groups Program (now known as NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network), and from 2011–2022 served as group chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a National Clinical Trials Network member organization. In addition, from 2007–2018, she served as the chief of the division of Surgical Oncology for the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

Dr. Bertagnolli has championed collaborative initiatives to transform the data infrastructure for clinical research and is 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. In 2021, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, having previously served on the National Academies National Cancer Policy Forum.

The daughter of first-generation Italian and French Basque immigrants, Dr. Bertagnolli grew up on a ranch in southwestern Wyoming. She graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor's degree in Engineering 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.