March 04, 2024

NIH director visits UAB, delivers annual Bland Endowed Lectureship address

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The UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine was honored to welcome National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., as the guest lecturer for the Department of Surgery’s annual Kirby I. Bland, M.D., Endowed Lectureship.048SOM NIHDirector 1

During her visit, Bertagnolli delivered the morning's grand rounds address and discussed how the NIH is strategically prioritizing the translation of clinical research into tactical application in the primary care space.

To this point, she reiterated, “Our work is not finished when we deliver scientific discoveries. Our work is finished when all people are living long and healthy lives.”

A surgical oncologist by training, Bertagnolli also mentioned the importance of mentors for trainees in her lecture and thanked Dr. Bland for his guidance in her career, as well.

After the conclusion of the morning's grand rounds, Bertagnolli met with clinician-scientists to hear more about the groundbreaking research happening on campus and visited with UAB leadership to discuss the continued impact of UAB applied science in patient populations across the state and beyond.

122SOM NIHDirector“Dr. Bertagnolli’s insight into our research as a medical institution is absolutely invaluable,” says Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean of the Heersink School of Medicine Anupam Agarwal, M.D. “I am so thankful that our faculty and researchers have had the opportunity to connect with and learn from her during her visit to campus.”

A dedicated mentor herself, Bertagnolli met with trainees from UAB's General Surgery Residency Program and students from the Heersink School of Medicine’s Medical Scientist Training Program to discuss the future of research and what it looks like to be both a practicing physician and a committed researcher.

Throughout the day, Bertagnolli reiterated to trainees and faculty alike the importance of owning your authentic voice and approach -- "You don't have to be like everyone else. It is the very best way to bring benefit to where you are." These words derive from lived experience, as Bertagnolli is the first surgeon to lead the NIH and the second woman out of 17 directors to helm the organization.

“It has truly been an honor to welcome our colleague and friend of the department, Dr. Monica Bertagnolli for her first visit to Birmingham and UAB,” says Fay Fletcher Kerner Endowed Chair of Surgery Herbert Chen, M.D. “She brings invaluable wisdom and insight that has inspired our faculty and trainees to continue seeking the answers to hard questions that can change the way we practice medicine and perform surgery for the better.”152SOM NIHDirector

About the Kirby I. Bland, M.D., Endowed Lectureship

The Kirby I. Bland, M.D., Endowed Lectureship was established to honor the distinguished career of Dr. Bland, who served as chair of the UAB Department of Surgery for nearly 16 years. During his illustrious career, Dr. Bland was a mentor to countless medical students and residents, while also setting the bar for patient care and surgical research.

View more pictures from NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli’s visit.