Biden’s Pick for NIH Director Has Deep Ties to Big Pharma

Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, Joe Biden’s choice to lead the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has deep ties to big pharma, reportedly receiving over $290 million in research funding from Pfizer over her career as an oncologist and scientist.

If confirmed, Bertagnolli, currently the director of the National Cancer Institute, would replace Dr. Lawrence Tabak, DDS, Ph.D., NIH’s interim director.

The NIH has 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.

Part of the money goes to research conducted by the smaller institutes that make up the NIH, including the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Cancer Institute.

Former NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Washington Post in May that he personally advocated for Bertagnolli as the next NIH director. “She’s got the kind of personality that I think is important for the director of NIH,” Fauci said.

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., stepped down as NIH director in December 2021 and Fauci finally retired in January 2023 after more than 50 years at NIAID. Both bureaucrats left their posts under clouds of disapproval after previously enjoying high approval ratings.

In the fall of 2021, Collins and Fauci coordinated with the media to silence and discredit doctors and scientists who opposed their COVID-19 policies, emails released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in December 2021 showed. Both Fauci and Collins have profited greatly off of Big Pharma over the years.

Bertagnolli received $290.8 million in research funding from Pfizer over her career as an oncologist and scientist,” according to data uncovered by The Heritage Foundation.

From 2015 through 2021, Bertagnolli received more than 116 grants from Pfizer, totaling $290.8 million. This amount made up 89% of all her research grants, according to Open Payments, a national transparency program under the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services that collects and publishes information about financial relationships between drug and medical device companies and certain health care providers.

Bertagnolli told The Daily Signal that most of the Pfizer funding was for a large international breast cancer clinical trial.

“The funding from Pfizer (and all other industry funding allocated to me) was not in the form of grants to me directly. This funding was in the form of contracts entered into by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology,” Bertagnolli explained in an email.

She added: “All industry contracts were used by the Alliance’s 3,000+ member clinical trials group to conduct cancer clinical trials. Importantly, virtually all of the funding from Pfizer was for a single large international breast cancer clinical trial—a very high $$ total because it enrolled over 6,000 patients over quite a number of countries.”

The funding was distributed across many different health care institutions—both academic and community—to conduct the trial. Alliance overall does not have more involvement with one industry partner over another—it’s just that this one Pfizer trial was very large and therefore very expensive.

Bertagnolli has also received $17.4 million in grant funding from Janssen Research & Development LLC, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, independent journalist Jordan Schachtel reported.

In a series of tweets, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Children’s Health Defense founder and Democrat candidate for president in 2024, criticized Bertagnolli’s nomination, pointing out that “The White House left the Pfizer connection out of its announcement of the nomination.”

“Does this mean Dr. Bertagnolli is personally corrupt? Not at all. But it does mean that she will probably represent the viewpoints and priorities of the pharmaceutical industry. That is how agencies are captured,” Kennedy wrote.


Dr. Bob Gill, a general practitioner in England’s National Health Service, told British actor/comedian/ political pundit Russell Brand in a recent interview that Bertagnolli’s nomination is “a very big problem,” that “doesn’t bode well.”

“The NIH should be acting in the public interest, but when you have people heavily sponsored or funded by private business and drug companies, well that raises the obvious question of conflicts of interest,” Gill, added.


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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: (062007 Boston, MA) Dr. Monica Bertagnolli is the Chief of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Staff photo by Angela Rowlings. (Photo by Angela Rowlings/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)