Elias Zerhouni, who headed up the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during the Bush administration, is back at work for another powerful person: Bill Gates.

Zerhouni, 57, joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Microsoft founder's public health and education philanthropy, earlier this month as a senior fellow. Zerhouni will act as an adviser on the foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which hands out grants to solve public health problems that aren’t otherwise being addressed by science, such as creating single-dose vaccines and vaccines that don’t need to be refrigerated. The Lancet Global Health Network noted Zerhouni's new role yesterday.

"I have had a long-standing commitment to reducing the burden of the many diseases suffered by the most vulnerable of us across the world," Zerhouni said in a Feb. 3 statement. The Gates Foundation, he added, "is committed to the same goals and has become one of the most effective forces for innovative change in global health."

Zerhouni led NIH from 2002 through 2008. During that time he created new conflicts-of-interest rules for institute scientists that spelled out which ones could work with industry and the amount of money they could accept from companies. In 2007, Zerhouni told Congress that it should lift President Bush's restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem-cell research.

Image by Department of Health and Human Services via Wikimedia Commons