Elias Zerhouni

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Elias A. Zerhouni
Elias Zerhouni close-up official photo.jpg
Elias A. Zerhouni
Born (1951-04-12) April 12, 1951 (age 65)
Nedroma (Algeria)
Nationality Algerian-American
Institutions Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Known for Director of the National Institutes of Health
Notable awards Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Elias A. Zerhouni is an Algerian-born American physician scientist radiologist and biomedical engineer. As a world-renowned national and international leader, Zerhouni is widely viewed as one of the leading authorities on emerging trends and issues in biomedical sciences and medical care. He spent much of his career on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University school of Medicine. From 1995 to 2002, he served as Executive Vice-Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and, in 2002, was appointed by President George Bush and confirmed by the Senate as the 15th Director of the National Institutes of Health, serving until 2008. In 2009, under the Obama Administration, he served as one of the country’s first presidential science envoys to foster scientific and technologic collaboration with other nations.[1] He also served as a senior fellow for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation from 2009 through 2010.[2] Since 2011, he is the President for Global Research and Development at Sanofi, one of the largest multinational pharmaceutical companies in the world.


A resident of Pasadena, Maryland, Zerhouni was born in Nedroma, Algeria. Having earned his M.D. degree at the University of Algiers, School of Medicine in 1975, Dr. Zerhouni emigrated to the United States to take up a residency position in diagnostic radiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He went on to positions of increasing responsibility, including Chief Resident and Assistant professor. He then served as vice chair of the Department of Radiology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and its affiliated DePaul Hospital from 1981 to 1985. In 1985, Zerhouni returned to Johns Hopkins as an associate professor. He was appointed Director of the MRI Division in 1988, subsequently becoming chair of the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, Martin Donner Professor of Radiology and Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Ultimately, Zerhouni was appointed as Executive Vice-Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine[3] in 1996 and served as Dean of Research and Dean for Clinical Affairs until 2002 at which time he moved to the Directorship of the NIH.

Elias Zerhouni is a highly published scientist in his field, inventor and entrepreneur. His work led to advances in Computed Tomography (CAT scanning) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that resulted in over 200 peer reviewed publications and 8 patents. Partly based on this research and research and subsequent inventions, Zerhouni founded or co-founded five start-up companies. He founded Computerized Imaging Reference Systems (CIRS) in 1982, where he served as Chairman for several years. He founded Advanced Medical Imaging in 1989, which was later sold to a major public company. He is a co-inventor and co-founder of Biopsys Corporation which became public before being acquired J&J in l997. He co-founded American Radiology Services in 1996 and served as its Chairman and CEO until 2002. He is also a co-inventor and co-founder of Surgivision, Inc., an MRI image-guided surgery company.

Dr. Zerhouni has advised and been recognized by many world leaders and has won many awards for both his scientific accomplishments and his leadership.[4] In 1985, he was a consultant to the White House under President Ronald Reagan. In 1988, he was a consultant to the World Health Organization. In 2000, Zerhouni was elected to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine and in 2013 was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of only a handful of scientists which have been elected to both august bodies. He received the Légion d'honneur from the French National Order and President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. Zerhouni has also served on the National Cancer Institute's Board of Scientific Advisors prior to his becoming NIH director. He has won several awards for his research including a Gold Medal from the American Roentgen Ray Society[5] and the Radiological Society of North American[6] and two Paul Lauterbur Awards for MRI research. Zerhouni received the honorary title Doctor Emeritus from the University of Algiers in 2005. Since leaving the NIH, Zerhouni has been appointed to the boards of the Lasker Foundation,[7] Research!America,[8] and the Mayo Clinic. He joined the board of trustees for King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) when the school opened in September,2009. Zerhouni has served as a science advisor reviewing several national research programs for France, Canada, Australia, Qatar, among others. He was also named by the Maryland Governor to the chairmanship of the Maryland Economic Development Commission. In 2010, Zerhouni received an honorary degree from Johns Hopkins University and the Woodrow Wilson award for service to the university and the nation.[9] He is a recipient of the Ben Franklin Medal. Zerhouni was the founding Chief Scientific Advisor of Science -Translational Medicine, a sister publication of Science Magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He served on the boards of Actelion Pharmaceuticals, a Swiss biotechnology company and Danaher, a US company comprising a family of more than 20 global operating companies in the fields of life sciences and the environment. He was appointed as Chair of Innovation at the College de France in 2011[10] and elected to membership at the French Academy of Medicine in 2010. Sanofi, a global pharmaceutical company, named Dr. Zerhouni as the Global Head of Research and Development in 2011.[11] In this position, he was asked to redesign and lead the R&D divisions of Sanofi one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies. He is responsible for a portfolio that includes a range of therapies from drugs, biologics, devices, and vaccines targeting a range of diseases. His purview includes basic science all the way through development to regulatory approval, which means he is responsible for a multi-billion dollar budget and manages more than 10,000 employees. In this role, he must successfully interact with investors, academia, policy makers, regulators and business people around the world. In this role, he has been successful in bringing to market several important drugs and vaccines with over 43 products currently in development.

National Institutes of Health[edit]

Zerhouni was appointed Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by President George Bush and confirmed by the Senate in April 2002 and served until October, 2008.[12] Notably, soon after becoming Director, Zerhouni convened a series of meetings to chart a "Roadmap for Medical Research" in the 21st century.[13] The purpose was to identify major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single Institute at NIH could tackle alone, but that the agency as a whole must address to make the biggest impact on the progress of medical research. Developed with input from more than 300 nationally recognized leaders in academia, industry, government, and the public, the NIH Roadmap provided a framework of priorities. Zerhouni also created the Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization Process (RCDC), an online system which reports NIH research investments visible to the public.

Working closely with Congressional leadership, Zerhouni successfully guided the passing of the NIH Reform Act of 2006, which codified a unique funding stream called the NIH Common Fund and new governance mechanisms designed to allow the agency to adapt more easily to changes in science. The NIH Director uses the Common Fund to support a series of short-term, exceptionally high impact, trans-NIH programs. The Reform Act also codified a new NIH division called the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) to administrate the Common Fund. During his tenure at NIH, Dr. Zerhouni led the effort to promote global health and global research and also created the Neuroscience Blueprint, a cooperative effort among 16 NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices. Zerhouni also led major efforts to revise aspects of the NIH peer review system to be less conservative and most particularly developed policies designed to specifically encourage promising and new investigators with novel ideas through the director’s Pioneer and New Innovator programs, as well as other programs throughout the NIH institutes . He led in the development of a groundbreaking new policy which provided public access to publications arising from NIH funded research which has now been adopted for all federal research agencies. During his time as NIH Director, he successful managed difficult political and social issues such as stem cell research and conflict of interest policies. Working with the Administration and Congressional leadership, Zerhouni steered policy makers toward win-win resolutions which involved relationship building during difficult negotiations.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Harold Varmus
Director of National Institutes of Health
2002 – 2008
Succeeded by
Francis Collins