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NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., to join Facts & Faith Fridays

Jan 19, 2024

Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D. Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., director of the NIH (Credit: National Institutes of Health)

Program note - February 5, 2024: Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D.'s appearance on the February 16 Facts & Faith Fridays virtual session will be rescheduled, date to be announced.

On Friday, February 16, 2024, Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, will join VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Facts & Faith Fridays for a virtual discussion on her new role and the 2024 priorities for the NIH. As NIH director, Bertagnolli oversees the work of the largest funder of biomedical and behavioral research in the world. She is the first surgeon and second woman to hold the position. Before taking the helm at NIH, Bertagnolli served as the director of the National Cancer Institute.

Bertagnolli’s priorities for the NIH include increasing the diversity of clinical trial participants, embracing the expansion of new learning-based analytic tools, restoring trust in science by making it accessible to all communities, and strengthening collaboration across the 27 NIH institutes and centers.

The Facts & Faith Fridays discussion will also feature insights from the inaugural Catchment Area Data Conference hosted by Massey in late 2023 shared by Katherine Tossas, Ph.D., M.S., Massey's director of Catchment Area Data Analysis.

Facts & Faith Fridays is a partnership between VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center and the African American faith-based community. Led by community leaders Rudene Mercer Haynes, Rev. F. Todd Gray, and Massey director Robert A. Winn, M.D., the program was founded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Facts & Faith Fridays recognizes that faith leaders are trusted sources of accurate information and act as ambassadors for their communities.

The program began in March 2020 as a weekly call led by Winn with African American clergy in Virginia to address the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on the Black community. The call has evolved to address higher rates of cancer and other health issues in diverse communities.

The Facts & Faith group invites Virginians of all faiths and races to participate in its monthly programs. Attendees can register for this virtual event at www.masseycancercenter.org/facts-and-faith-fridays.

Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D.

Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., is the 17th director of the National Institutes of Health. 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, 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, 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, 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.

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.

Katherine Y. Tossas, Ph.D., M.S. Kathy Tossas, Ph.D., M.S.

Katherine Y. Tossas, Ph.D., M.S.

Kathy Tossas, Ph.D., M.S., is an assistant professor and Harrison Endowed Scholar in the Department of Health Behavior and Policy. She is also a member of the VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center where she is responsible for the Catchment Area Data Access and Alignment (CADA) initiatives. Her work and research are grounded in health equity, and center on elucidating how structural determinants of health such as differential access to care impact cancer outcomes for underserved and underrepresented populations (e.g. racial and ethnic, sexual gender and geographic).

Register for this event here.


Written by: Annie Harris

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