Dr. Elias Zerhouni is currently a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He is one of the leading medical scientists in the world today.
Dr. Zerhouni was born in April 12, 1951, in Nedroma, a province of Tlemcen — a city in the West of Algeria. He was a competitive swimmer in his teens. After obtaining his Medical Degree (M.D.) at the University of Algiers, School of Medicine in 1975, he applied for and won residency at Johns Hopkins University, considered one of the leading medical and teaching facilities in the United States. Dr. Zerhouni arrived in the US aged 24, accompanied by his wife Nadia Azza (a pediatrician). They’re still married and they have three children. In 2002, Dr. Elias Zerhouni was appointed by President George W. Bush as the director of the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH). The president’s appointment of Zerhouni to this politically sensitive post was viewed as a compromise as it came at a time where the US was experiencing a heated debate about stem cells research. The scientific community had big hopes on this emerging research area, whilst Many religious groups, from American conservative Christians to the seat of the Roman Catholic church at the Vatican, opposed certain aspects of embryonic stem–cell research. In August of 2001, President Bush signed an order that served as a compromise, in effect, but one that pleased neither side: federal funding on any future stem–cell research would be limited to projects that used the 78 existing colonies of stem cells. “Dr. Zerhouni shares my view that human life is precious and should not be exploited or destroyed for the benefits of others,” Bush said, according to an article by Virginian Pilot journalist Liz Szabo. Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Keay Davidson noted that Zerhouni “has demonstrated a mastery of Washingtonspeak—the ability to discuss controversial topics without alienating anyone.”
Under his leadership, the NIH embarked on a series of reforms, chief among them the Roadmap for Medical Research, designed to enhance synergy and collaborative work among all 27 NIH institutes and centers and leading to the passing by the US congress of the NIH Reform Act of 2006. Other new programs included those designed to foster high-risk but potentially high-impact research, and enhanced support for young career scientists. Dr. Zerhouni stepped down from this position in 2008. He was also former Johns Hopkins Medicine executive vice dean, and in May 2009, he returned as a senior advisor. Among his many contributions to Hopkins, Dr. Zerhouni was instrumental in creating the Institute for Cell Engineering.
He was appointed by President Barack Obama as the presidential scientific envoy to Islamic countries (2009 to 2010) (see also here), was senior fellow in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2008 to 2009) and he recently joined the Foundation as a senior fellow for global health. Dr. Zerhouni also serves on the boards of the Lasker Foundation, Research America, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and the Mayo Clinic Foundation. He also serves as an external chief advisor for global science and technology for Sanofi-Aventis and was named chair of the Maryland Economic Development Commission in April 2009.
Dr. Zerhouni’s imaging research led to major advances in Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT scanning) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). He is credited with developing novel quantitative imaging methods used for diagnosing cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. You can find out more about his research here.
Dr. Zerhouni has authored over 200 publications, holds eight patents and has founded or co-founded 5 start-up companies:
1) 1982: founded Computerized Imaging Reference Systems (CIRS) where he served as chairman for several years
2) 1989: founded Advanced Medical Imaging which was later sold to a major public company
3) He is a co-inventor and co-founder of Biopsys Corporation which became public before being acquired by a major public company in 1996
4) He co-founded American Radiology Services and served as chairman and CEO of it until 2002
5) He is a co-inventor and co-founder of Surgivision, Inc. an MRI image guided surgery company
Among his many honors, Dr. Zerhouni earned membership into the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2000 and received the prestigious Legion of Honor medal from the French National Order in 2008. He was recently appointed as Chair of Innovation at the College de France and elected to membership at the French Academy of Medicine in 2010 [Source: Sanofi corporate management].