A headshot of Monica Bertagnolli with an American flag in the background

NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli Is the 2024 Class Day Speaker

April 2, 2024

Dean Linda P. Fried announced that Monica Bertagnolli, director of the National Institutes of Health, will be the 2024 Columbia Mailman Class Day Speaker and recipient of the School’s Visionary Leadership Award. She is the seventeenth director and second woman to lead the NIH in its history since 1887.

The 2024 Columbia Mailman Class Day Celebration for graduating students will take place on Tuesday, May 14, at the Armory on West 168th Street. Columbia University Commencement is scheduled for the following day.

The NIH, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency, with a mission to drive innovative research to improve the health of communities. The NIH Director provides leadership to the NIH’s 27 Institutes and Centers, overseeing a staff of 18,000 and a budget of more than $47 billion.

“Dr. Bertagnolli’s vision for building a healthier America focuses on research-to-practice, equity, and community-wide impact. Her empathetic and transparent approach to gain the public’s trust in science and research comes at an inflection point in our public health history as we move out of the pandemic,” said Dean Fried.

Bertagnolli took office on November 9, 2023. A physician-scientist and cancer surgeon in clinical oncology, she previously served as director of the National Cancer Institute, the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery 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.