Senate Confirms Bertagnolli as Director of National Institutes of Health

Savannah Pointer
By Savannah Pointer
November 7, 2023US News
Senate Confirms Bertagnolli as Director of National Institutes of Health
Dr. Monica Bertagnolli in Washington on Oct. 18, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nomination for director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, in a vote of 62–36.

Dr. Bertagnolli, 64, was nominated by President Biden in May of this year to replace former NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, who held the position for 12 years before stepping down in December 2021.

He was temporarily replaced by acting director Dr. Lawrence Tabak.

Dr. Bertagnolli is a cancer doctor and researcher who last year became the first female director of the National Cancer Institute.

The Biden administration nominee is the second woman to hold the position of permanent director of the NIH, which is one of the world’s foremost biomedical research institutions.

A bipartisan group of 15 senators voted in favor of sending Bertagnolli out of committee to a final vote before the full Senate on Oct. 25.

“The NIH is desperate for leadership. Dr. Bertagnolli is qualified,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the ranking member of the Senate Health Committee, said before voting in favor of advancing the nomination.

During the Senate confirmation committee hearing, Dr. Bertagnolli assured members that she would abide by the law and provide answers to Congress when questioned.

“If confirmed, we shall hold Bertagnolli to her word that she will respect the oversight authority of Congress and not bow to political pressure from progressives,” said Dr. Cassidy, who’s also a physician.”

This administration has developed a pattern of circumventing congressional authority and then stonewalling oversight to avoid accountability. This is unacceptable and needs to end.”

President Biden said in a statement about his nomination earlier this year: “Dr. Bertagnolli has spent her career pioneering scientific discovery and pushing the boundaries of what is possible to improve cancer prevention and treatment for patients, and ensuring that patients in every community have access to quality care.”

Before becoming the head of the National Cancer Institute, she taught at Harvard Medical School as the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery and specialized in surgical oncology.

“As director of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Bertagnolli has advanced my Cancer Moonshot to end cancer as we know it,” President Biden went on.

“Dr. Bertagnolli is a world-class physician-scientist whose vision and leadership will ensure NIH continues to be an engine of innovation to improve the health of the American people.”

Dr. Bertagnolli told senators during questioning on Capitol Hill in Washington during her committee confirmation hearings that she would “act with the goal of the very best interest of the American people if confirmed for this job.”

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) questioned Dr. Bertagnolli regarding her extensive tenure with pharmaceutical companies, which reportedly includes receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from Pfizer over the years.

“How can the American people be sure that, as NIH director, you would be focused on the job at hand, rather than boosting the business of any past associates in the pharmaceutical industry?” Mr. Braun asked.

Dr. Bertagnolli stated that the majority of the funding she received in the past, was designated for research purposes.

However, the lawmaker also pointed to direct payment she received from an unnamed company in exchange for her service on its board of directors during her tenure at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“I completely agree with the need to have one goal, one constituency that I am serving, and that is the health of the American people,” the Biden administration nominee said.

The issue of cancer research, for which the doctor is known, is one that President Biden has campaigned on.

During his time in office, the president has mentioned how near and dear the issue is to his family’s heart due to the loss of his son, Beau Biden, to cancer in 2015.

According to her biographical information, Dr. Bertagnolli has been actively involved in clinical and research oncology, with a focus on advancing collaborative initiatives to enhance the data infrastructure for clinical cancer research.

She notably served as the group chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a member organization of the National Clinical Trials Network.

From The Epoch Times

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