Salerno, 61, is executive director and chief operating officer of the Institute of Medicine, a prestigious independent group that advises the government and private sector about health and science.
"Komen's commitment has helped countless numbers of low-income and medically underserved women and men get care they might otherwise have gone without, and Komen's research program is one of the most highly respected in the nation," Salerno said in a statement released by Komen.
Brinker, 67, announced in August that she would move from the CEO role, which she'd held since 2009, into a new one focused on fundraising and strategic planning.
In late 2011, the Dallas-based charity decided to halt grants to Planned Parenthood, which received about $680,000 that year. News of the move caused a torrent of questions about the decision and calls for its reversal, angering Komen supporters on both sides of the abortion debate.
Three days after the initial disclosure, Komen reversed its course, which led to more harsh criticism, this time from abortion opponents accusing the charity of caving to public pressure.
Karen Handel, the group's vice president and a conservative, resigned the following week and later wrote a blistering account of the episode entitled "Planned Bullyhood."
Earlier this month, Komen announced it was canceling half of its three-day charity walks due to a drop in participation levels.
Brinker founded the Dallas-based charity in honor of her sister, who died of breast cancer in 1980. It grew into a fundraising powerhouse. Its signature color of pink has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness.