Elias Zerhouni Named President, Global R&D, Sanofi-aventis

The Academy President’s Council member and past NIH director took on his new job this month.

Academy President’s Council member Elias Zerhouni, was named President, Global Research & Development, Sanofi-aventis on January 1. A leading medical researcher who directed the NIH from 2002 - 2008, Zerhouni has been a scientific advisor to Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher since February 2009. The company said he has been instrumental in redesigning its R&D model and boosting innovation there.

Zerhouni has been involved in founding five medical startup companies, has been a consultant to the World Health Orgaization and to the Reagan White House, served as Executive Vice Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and has served on the boards of the Lasker Foundation, Research!America, the Mayo Clinic, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

A radiologist by training, Zerhouni conducted imaging research early in his career that led to major advances in CAT scanning and MRI. He is credited with developing novel quantitative imaging methods used for diagnosing cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. As one of the world’s premier experts in computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, Zerhouni extended the role of CT and MRI from taking snapshots of gross anatomy to visualizing how the body works at the physiologic and molecular levels. He pioneered magnetic tagging, a non-invasive method using MRI to track the motions and accurately measure the function of a heart in three dimensions. He is also known for refining an imaging technique called quantitative computed tomographic densitometry that helps discriminate between non-cancerous and cancerous nodules in the lung. It is also used for developing and applying the method of high resolution CT for the study of heart and lung structure and function, and for diagnosing cancer. Zerhouni is the author of more than 210 publications and holds eight patents.