Zerhouni resigns as NIH head

The 15th head of the National Institutes of Health, linkurl:Elias Zerhouni,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/42733/ will step down from his post, he announced today (Sept 24). In a conference call with reporters today, Zerhouni said that he would be leaving NIH at the end of October as a part of what he called "the natural cycle of tenures for this position." "It's with mixed emotions that I move on," he said. President George W. Bush linkurl:appointed;http://www.the-scientist.com/ar

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Sep 23, 2008
The 15th head of the National Institutes of Health, linkurl:Elias Zerhouni,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/42733/ will step down from his post, he announced today (Sept 24). In a conference call with reporters today, Zerhouni said that he would be leaving NIH at the end of October as a part of what he called "the natural cycle of tenures for this position." "It's with mixed emotions that I move on," he said. President George W. Bush linkurl:appointed;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13166/ Zerhouni in May 2002, on the tail end of a five year NIH budget doubling. These halcyon days at NIH led Zerhouni to craft the linkurl:"NIH Roadmap for Medical Research,";http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/14454/ a sweeping $2 billion, five-year plan meant to invigorate the biomedical enterprise through focusing NIH resources on bioinformatics, systems and structural biology, genomic database establishment, and nanomedicine projects, encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration, and funding clinical and translational research. "I think it's clear that science has changed tremendously with the...
ost, he announced today (Sept 24). In a conference call with reporters today, Zerhouni said that he would be leaving NIH at the end of October as a part of what he called "the natural cycle of tenures for this position." "It's with mixed emotions that I move on," he said. President George W. Bush linkurl:appointed;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13166/ Zerhouni in May 2002, on the tail end of a five year NIH budget doubling. These halcyon days at NIH led Zerhouni to craft the linkurl:"NIH Roadmap for Medical Research,";http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/14454/ a sweeping $2 billion, five-year plan meant to invigorate the biomedical enterprise through focusing NIH resources on bioinformatics, systems and structural biology, genomic database establishment, and nanomedicine projects, encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration, and funding clinical and translational research. "I think it's clear that science has changed tremendously with the explosion of discoveries," Zerhouni said on the conference call. The Roadmap will likely form the base of Zerhouni's legacy at NIH, but he saw the agency through his fair share of controversy and turmoil as well. On Zerhouni's watch the NIH budget plateaued, and federal funding of the agency remains level today. He also watched the success rates for new R01 grants linkurl:plummet;http://www.the-scientist.com/2008/9/1/30/1/ from about 18% in 2002 to about 9% in 2005. Zerhouni received criticism for his appointment of David Schwartz, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who linkurl:resigned;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54296/ from his post earlier this year amid allegations of mismanagement and misconduct. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) corresponded frequently with Zerhouni regarding NIH-funded scientists who the Senator alleged improperly disclosed financial ties to industry. Prior to his appointment as head of NIH, the Algerian-born radiologist was the executive vice-dean of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering there and at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Zerhouni said today that he doesn't "have a job lined up," and that he plans on resting before transitioning into a new position. "I wanted to take some time out," he said.

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