President Joe Biden this week nominated cancer specialist Dr. Monica Bertagnolli for director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — a move that has already generated controversy because of Bertagnolli’s longstanding financial ties to Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies.
If confirmed, Bertagnolli will replace the NIH’s acting director, Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., who has held the position since the NIH’s previous permanent director, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., resigned in December 2021.
She will oversee a $47 billion budget that encompasses “a wide variety of medical research beyond cancer, including infectious diseases, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders, diabetes, drug addiction and mental health,” according to The Associated Press.
Bertagnolli is director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the largest of the 19 institutes and seven centers under the aegis of the NIH. Biden named her NCI director in August, making her the first woman to hold the position.
In announcing the nomination, Biden highlighted Bertagnolli’s past experience as a professor of surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School and a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; CEO of Alliance Foundation Trials, LLC, which conducts international cancer clinical trials; and group chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.
Under Bertagnolli’s leadership, the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology has received more than $323 million in funding from Pfizer and other Big Pharma firms, according to Open Payments data revealed by The Daily Signal and The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project.
In a series of tweets, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Children’s Health Defense chairman on leave and Democratic candidate for president in 2024, criticized Bertagnolli’s nomination, noting that “The White House left the Pfizer connection out of its announcement of the nomination.”…