October 31, 2023
At the Clinical Congress 2023 Convocation, Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and nominee to lead the National Institutes of Health (NIH), received the Owen H. Wangensteen Scientific Forum Award.
The ACS Scientific Forum Committee gives this award to an individual who exemplifies the clinical, research, and educational achievements of a successful academic surgeon. Dr. Bertagnolli is a world-renowned oncologic surgeon and cancer researcher who has served as NCI director since October 2022.
In 2007, Dr. Bertagnolli became the first female chief of surgical oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and in 2015, she was named the Harvard Medical School Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery in the Field of Surgical Oncology.
Concurrent with her residency, she completed 3 years of tumor immunology research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her first research grant from the NCI while at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and secured further NIH awards for cancer research on her return to Harvard. Dr. Bertagnolli maintained NIH and other funding for 25 years and generated several findings that have impacted cancer care.
Dr. Bertagnolli now leads NCI’s effort to reduce cancer mortality by 50% within 25 years. She has emphasized that, while this goal can be approached by eliminating care disparities and fully implementing current knowledge, it also will require innovations in research, diagnosis, and treatment. More importantly, Dr. Bertagnolli has said her long-standing focus on patient care has evolved into an emphasis on amplified engagement with other institutions and the public.
At present, she awaits confirmation to lead the NIH by the full US Senate after being advanced out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in a bipartisan vote. If confirmed, Dr. Bertagnolli will be the second woman ever in a permanent position leading the NIH.