Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH, is Executive Director at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). She is a cardiologist and health services researcher with a distinguished career leading key scientific initiatives engaging patients, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders at one of the nation’s largest public health research funders.
Cook leads PCORI’s research, dissemination and implementation, and engagement work as the organization enters its second decade of service to the nation. She also provides strategic and day-to-day oversight of ongoing programs as well as new initiatives designed to create a healthcare system that is more efficient, effective, and patient centered.
Prior to her current role, Cook served as Senior Scientific Officer and Chief of Staff at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the third largest institute of the National Institutes of Health, with a staff of 1,000 and an annual budget of over $3 billion. There she spearheaded the development and implementation of NHLBI’s strategic plan and initiatives in precision medicine, data science, sickle cell disease, and women’s health with meaningful engagement of stakeholder groups.
Preceding her position as Chief of Staff, Cook was a Clinical Medical Officer in NHLBI’s Division of Cardiovascular Sciences and an attending cardiologist at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. She has a bachelor of science degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham; earned her medical degree and master of public health in health care policy and management from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, respectively; and completed her clinical training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Cook is also an alumna of the Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy.
Throughout her career, Cook 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. She has received numerous awards for her excellence in clinical teaching and mentorship as well as her leadership of complex scientific initiatives and programs.