WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) May 03 - Without debate, the Senate Thursday night approved the nomination of Dr. Elias Zerhouni to head the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Zerhouni is currently executive vice dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
Dr. Zerhouni's nomination was notable for its lack of controversy, particularly given the fact that during his tenure at Hopkins, Dr. Zerhouni helped create a stem cell research institute. But during his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Dr. Zerhouni told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee he would abide by President Bush's decision to fund only research on embryonic stem cell lines already in existence on August 9, 2001.
The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted unanimously to approve the nomination earlier Thursday afternoon. The NIH position has been vacant for more than 2 years, since Dr. Harold Varmus resigned to become head of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
While Dr. Zerhouni's approval was unusually rapid, the president's nominee for US Surgeon General, Arizona emergency room physician Dr. Richard Carmona, has been delayed. A committee spokesman said he was not aware of any problems with the nomination, but that a hearing could not be scheduled until necessary paperwork, including a background check by the FBI, is delivered.
The Bush administration still has several top health policy jobs to
fill at the Department of Health and Human Services. The president has
yet to nominate someone to head the Food and Drug Administration. Meanwhile,
other jobs have become vacant. Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, a Clinton administration
holdover, stepped down as director of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention earlier this spring. And Dr. John Eisenberg, the Clinton holdover
at the helm of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, died of
cancer in March.
© 2002 Reuters Ltd