The first director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who was born outside the United States, Elias Zerhouni, came to this country in 1975, after receiving his M.D. from the University of Algiers School of Medicine. He specialized in radiology, serving as resident in diagnostic radiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. There he became known for his drive for expanding medical imaging techniques and applications. After a post-resident fellowship in CT scanning at Hopkins, he was promoted to the faculty of the School of Medicine as an assistant professor of radiology.
In 1981, Zerhouni moved from Hopkins to the Eastern Virginia School of Medicine on a leave of absence that was to stretch for four years. There he was a member of the faculty and concurrently held executive positions at the Norfolk De Paul Hospital. He also oversaw the construction of a free-standing imaging center in Norfolk. In 1985, Zerhouni returned to Hopkins, this time as associate professor. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) received an increasing amount of his attention; he developed several applications for MRI imaging of a beating heart in 3D. His name occurred on some forty papers dealing with cardiac magnetic imaging. Zerhouni became Chairman of the Hopkins radiology department in 1996. He became increasingly involved in management issues at the School of Medicine and served in several executive positions that culminated in his being named executive vice-dean in 2000.
In 2002, after two years in which NIH was headed by Acting Director Ruth Kirschstein, President George W. Bush nominated Zerhouni as director of NIH. Shortly after his confirmation, Zerhouni proposed his Road Map Initiative. This involved selecting a "short list of the most compelling cross-cutting initiatives that the NIH should pursue" with the help of both intra- and extramural experts.
A sizeable number of vacancies existed in various Institutes when Zerhouni arrived at NIH. He had to deal with the impact of the terrorist attack of 2001 and bioterrorism issues as an early order of business. He was also responsible for overseeing the effects from the doubling of the NIH budget in five years that started in 1998. Zerhouni also oversaw the translation of the Bush administration's restriction of stem cell research into nuts and bolts practice as well as the ensuing controversy. Yet another contentious matter involved the ongoing dispute between NIH and journal publishers over the provision of free digital versions of articles presenting NIH funded research.
In 2008, Zerhouni resigned from NIH and returned to Hopkins as a senior advisor; he was also appointed a senior fellow for global health a the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
|Born||April 12, 1951|
|Titles & honors||
Chairman, Radiology Department, Johns Hopkins University
Dean, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Gold Medal, American Roentgen Ray Society
Honorary Doctor Emeritus, University of Algeria
|Education||University of Algeria School of Medicine, M.D., 1975|