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Elias A. Zerhouni to step down as Director of the National Institutes of Health -

Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, the director of the National Institutes of Health, has announced plans to step down at the end of October 2008 to pursue writing projects and explore other professional opportunities. Dr. Zerhouni, a physician scientist and world-renowned leader in radiology research, has served as NIH director since May 2002.

During his tenure, Zerhouni worked to lower barriers between disciplines of science and encourage trans-NIH collaborations. He led the agency through a challenging period that required innovative solutions to transform basic and clinical research into tangible benefits for patients and their families. One of the hallmarks of his tenure is the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, launched in 2003, after extensive consultations with the scientific community. Dr. Zerhouni also launched new programmes to encourage high-risk innovative research, such as the Director's Pioneer Awards and New Innovator Awards, and focused especially on the need to support new investigators and foster their independence.

NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and is the nation's premiere biomedical research agency. The agency supports more than 325,000 researcher personnel at more than 3,100 institutions throughout the US, and around the world. The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers.

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