Zerhouni's departure from NIH follows controversial tenure

The research world will lose one of its most influential figures when Elias A. Zerhouni (photo) steps down as head of the National Institutes of Health at the end of October. In the six years since he was appointed to the job, Zerhouni has become a controversial figure in the research community. The NIH has essentially kept research funding flat during Zerhouni's stint at the NIH, and the research community has complained loud and long about the shrinking federal funds that are available for their work.

Dr. Zerhouni also stirred controversy with his decision to ban scientists at the agency from working with drug and medical companies. But since then, more and more medical schools have followed with their own bans. Another controversy centered on the federal ban on funding ESC research.

Zerhouni says he wants to step down "so there is a clear sense that whoever wins the election, NIH has to be a clear priority in their mind."

- here's the release on Zerhouni's departure
- read the story in the New York Times