Senate Confirms Zerhouni to Head NIH
The Senate yesterday confirmed Dr. Elias Zerhouni as director of the NIH, a position that has been vacant for more than two years, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. "Leading the NIH in this new century of the life sciences is an awesome responsibility, and I'm confident that Dr. Zerhouni will meet this extraordinary challenge," Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said. During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Zerhouni, who currently serves as the executive vice dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reaffirmed his "strong support" for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/3). But he also told senators that he would "abide" by President Bush's restrictions on federal funding for the research. Bush's guidelines call for dollars to be allocated only to research conducted on stem cell lines isolated on or before the policy announcement date of Aug. 9, 2001. Zerhouni added that he felt the existing stem cell lines approved for use in federally funded research would be sufficient, but he did not say definitively whether he would urge Bush to reconsider his policy if the existing lines proved inadequate (Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 5/1). Zerhouni said he intends to focus on boosting recruitment, improving morale and determining the best ways to spend the NIH budget, which is expected to reach more than $27 billion next year. The institutes fund more than 2,000 biomedical projects in the United States and employ more than 10,000 people (AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.