President Biden said Wednesday he intends to appoint Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, a prominent surgeon and Harvard Medical School professor, as the 16th director of the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Bertagnolli will be the first woman to lead the institute and will be tasked with accelerating Mr. Biden’s signature cancer “moonshot” program — an effort to cut the U.S. cancer rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years.
The National Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health and coordinates efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
Currently, Dr. Bertagnolli is a professor of surgery at Harvard and a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
She is also a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a leading cancer hospital.
The administration hailed the doctor’s efforts to include patient input in cancer care, particularly in rural and remote communities.
“I look forward to working with Dr. Bertagnolli to advance the President’s call to end cancer as we know it,” Heath and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “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.”
Mr. Biden announced his decision Wednesday before signing the Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, which expands health care and benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxins and combat illnesses such as cancer.
Cancer research is personal to Mr. Biden, whose son Beau, died from an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2015.