NIH News Release
Office of the Director

Monday, May 20, 2002

NIH Communications Office
(301) 496-4461

Zerhouni Assumes Leadership of the National Institutes of Health

Elias Adam Zerhouni, M.D., begins today as the new Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world's foremost medical research institution. Dr. Zerhouni is a well-respected leader in the field of radiology and medicine. He brings impressive clinical, scientific and administrative experience to his new role at the $23 billion federal agency.

"Dr. Zerhouni is a proven manager who will lead the NIH through a time of great expansion and challenge," Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson said. "Elias is an outstanding physician and researcher, as well as a thoughtful and innovative administrator. I look forward to working with him as we ask and answer some of the most challenging scientific and medical questions facing our nation."

"It is an honor to be asked to lead the NIH," Dr. Zerhouni said. "Its leadership has resulted in profound knowledge about our biological systems and has enhanced our ability to explore health and disease. I look forward to meeting with Institute and Center staff in the next several weeks to determine how we might best work towards furthering medical research and improving health for everyone."

Dr. Zerhouni, 51, was most recently executive vice dean of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, chair of the Russell H. Morgan department of radiology and radiological science, and Martin Donner professor of radiology and professor of biomedical engineering. Before that, he was vice dean for research at Johns Hopkins. Since 2000, he has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine. He has served on the National Cancer Institute's board of scientific advisors since 1998. In 1988, he was a consultant to the World Health Organization, and in 1985 he was a consultant to the White House under President Ronald Reagan.

During his tenure at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Zerhouni developed a comprehensive strategic plan for research and helped reorganize the school's academic leadership. He also led efforts to restructure the school of medicine's clinical practice association. Working with elected officials, Dr. Zerhouni planned a major biotechnology research park and urban revitalization project near the Johns Hopkins medical campus. He also helped obtain for Johns Hopkins researchers such resources as the university's first microarray core facility, a center on informatics. Recently, he led a successful effort to establish the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins, to take advantage of the emerging fields of proteomics and stem cell research.

Before leaving Johns Hopkins, Dr. Zerhouni was a principal investigator on three NIH grants and co-investigator on two others. He has authored or co-authored 157 publications and 11 book chapters. He also holds, singularly and jointly, a total of eight patents. His research accomplishments include developing computed tomography densitometry techniques that can determine whether nodules found on the lung are benign or malignant. He developed a method of high resolution CT for both anatomic and physiologic studies of the lungs. He also pioneered a way of assessing heart function via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). As Chair of Radiology at Johns Hopkins, he established with community radiologists a company specializing in the delivery of outpatient, high-tech imaging services that subsequently was acquired by the American Radiology Services corporation. Another company he helped establish, Surgi-Vision, Inc., has licensed novel, image-guided clinical technology from his laboratories. While at Johns Hopkins he also engaged in a collaborative effort with General Electric to develop innovative high-speed MRI technology.

Dr. Zerhouni was born in Nedroma, Algeria, one of eight children. He came to the United States at age 24, having earned his medical degree at the University of Algiers School of Medicine in 1975. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at Johns Hopkins in 1978 as chief resident. He was made assistant professor there in 1979 and associate professor in 1985. Between 1981 and 1985 he worked in the department of radiology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and its affiliated DePaul Hospital. Dr. Zerhouni was appointed director of the MRI division at Johns Hopkins in 1988, was appointed full professor in 1992 and then became chairman of the radiology department in January 1996. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1990.

Dr. Zerhouni is married to Nadia Azza, a pediatrician and medical school classmate whom he met when both qualified for the Algerian national swimming team during high school. The couple has three children: Will, 25, is a second-year student at Harvard Law School; Yasmin, 22, recently finished her undergraduate work at Columbia University and will pursue a master's degree in education at Columbia; and Adam, 16, attends the Severn School in Severna Park, Maryland. Fluent in English, French and Arabic, and conversant in German, Dr. Zerhouni plays lute and piano and shares an enthusiasm for opera, tennis, and scuba diving with his wife.