RLI Taking the Lead Podcasts

Episode 16: Elias Zerhouni, MD, FACR


Leading History

December 19, 2019

In this episode, Elias Zerhouni, MD, shares his journey from a small village in Algeria to being appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002 to serve as the 15th director of the NIH. You will learn how he came to the United States as a radiology resident at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (barely able to speak English), rose to chief resident and later joined the faculty to embark on what would be a successful career focused on research. In addition to serving as a consultant to the White House and President Ronald Reagan in 1985 he also helped create the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins and later joined the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, stepping down as head of global research and development in 2018. Join us to hear how his fearless and collaborative leadership style multi-disciplinary approach and out of the box thinking has secured his role in history.  

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The following episode is sponsored by the Master of Medical Management program at Carnegie Mellon University, which provides physicians with quantitative management, business strategy, and technology skills for the future of health care leadership. Learn more » 

Elias A. Zerhouni, MD

Elias Zerhouni, M.D., Professor Emeritus Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Dr. Zerhouni was most recently the President, Global Research & Development, and a member of the Executive Committee for Sanofi from January 2011 to July 2018. Dr. Zerhouni’s academic career was spent at the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital where he was professor of Radiology and Biomedical engineering and senior adviser for Johns Hopkins Medicine. He served as Chair of the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Vice Dean for Research and Executive Vice Dean of the School of Medicine from 1996 to 2002 before his appointment as Director of the National Institutes of Health from 2002 to 2008. In that position, he oversaw the NIH’s 27 Institutes and Centers with more than 18,000 employees and a budget of $29.5 billion (2008).

In November 2009, President Obama appointed Dr. Zerhouni as one of the first presidential U.S. science envoys. Dr. Zerhouni also served as senior fellow to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation from 2009 to 2010 and senior advisor to the CEO of Sanofi. Dr. Zerhouni has founded or co-founded five start-up companies, authored more than 200 publications and holds several patents. He has assumed positions on several Boards, including most recently, the board of the Lasker Foundation, Research!America and the NIH Foundation. He is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He received the prestigious Legion of Honor medal from the French National Order in 2008, and was elected in 2010 as a member of the French Academy of Medicine and appointed as Chair of Innovation at the College de France in 2011.

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Did you know?

Dr. Zerhouni has been married for 44 years and has three children, 3 grandchildren, 1 dog and 4 grand-dogs. For fun, he enjoys swimming, scuba diving and cheering on the Baltimore Ravens. Africa and Europe are amongst his favorite places to travel. His favorite cuisines include Algerian, French and American seafood and steaks (especially Maryland crab cakes!) and his most preferred drink is a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with a meal.

Prior to going into radiology, Dr. Zerhouni considered construction engineering as he did well in both mathematics and physics. He then decided on radiology in his 3rd year of medical school.

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