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Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Names Nakela Cook as New Executive Director

April 2020

WASHINGTON, DC — The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced that Nakela Cook, MD, MPH, a cardiologist with a distinguished career leading key research initiatives engaging patients, clinicians and other health care stakeholders at one of the nation’s largest public health research funders, has been named PCORI’s next Executive Director.

Dr. Cook, whose appointment was announced by PCORI Board of Governors Chairperson Christine Goertz, DC, PhD, comes to PCORI from her role as a Senior Scientific Officer and Chief of Staff for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one of the largest institutes within the National Institutes of Health. 

“I am honored to take on the important role of Executive Director at PCORI,” Dr. Cook said. “PCORI’s mission fully reflects my personal and professional values and commitment to promote excellence in health and health care in a way that is patient centered and engages all parties to help us achieve shared goals. As a clinician and researcher focused on improving patient outcomes, I can’t imagine a more exciting opportunity.”

In her current position, Dr. Cook oversees a staff of 1,000 and an annual budget of $3.2 billion. She has spearheaded the development and implementation of NHLBI’s research strategy and planning and implementing initiatives in precision medicine, data science, sickle cell disease and women’s health, ensuring that these initiatives meaningfully engaged patients, patient advocates, professional societies, policymakers and other stakeholder groups. Throughout her career, Dr. Cook also has worked to enhance diversity and equity in research and care delivery and been a leader in efforts to reduce disparities in health access and outcomes.

Prior to her current role, Dr. Cook was a Clinical Medical Officer in the NHLBI’s Division of Cardiovascular Sciences and an attending cardiologist at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. She has a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, earned her medical and public health degrees at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, respectively, and did her clinical and research training at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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