- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

President Bush yesterday nominated a Johns Hopkins University administrator criticized by some opponents of stem-cell research to head the National Institutes of Health and an Arizona sheriff's deputy hailed as a police hero to be surgeon general.
Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, executive vice dean at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Dr. Richard H. Carmona, a trauma surgeon and a Pima County, Ariz., Sheriff's Department SWAT team member, must be confirmed by the Democrat-led Senate before filling the two top health policy and research positions.
"These are distinguished physicians who have worked tirelessly to save lives, and to improve lives," Mr. Bush said at a White House ceremony yesterday afternoon. "They bring exceptional knowledge and skill to these critical jobs. And they are absolutely dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all Americans."
Democrats promised a swift review of both nominees, and top administration officials expressed confidence both men would be confirmed.
For the NIH post, Dr. Zerhouni, 50, met the Bush administration's goals of finding a respected scientist who could live within the president's ethical constraints on contentious research involving cloning and embryonic stem cells.
Mr. Bush said last summer he would allow federally funded research on embryonic stem cells on a strictly limited basis. However, he said no federal funds would be allowed for use of stem cells from newly destroyed embryos, the creation of any human embryos for research purposes or the cloning of any embryos for any purpose.
But one pro-life group the American Life League criticized Mr. Bush for tapping Dr. Zerhouni, calling him an advocate of stem-cell research. "So much for promises," said Judie Brown, the group's president.
At Johns Hopkins, Dr. Zerhouni was a driving force in establishing the Institute for Cell Engineering, which seeks to advance embryonic stem-cell research. Dr. Zerhouni, who has acknowledged the controversies associated with research that manipulates human cells, told a university newspaper that "an institution cannot deny to our patients the investigation of the potential of these therapies for them."
Mrs. Brown said Dr. Zerhouni will promote embryo killing on the federal level. "Respect for human life from the moment of conception is the only real pro-life test," she said. "Elias Zerhouni fails that test by promoting embryonic stem cell research and so does President Bush."
At yesterday's ceremony, Mr. Bush insisted that Dr. Zerhouni shared his views that "human life is precious and should not be exploited or destroyed for the benefit of others."
The top post at NIH has been vacant since Director Harold Varmus left two years ago.
Dr. Carmona is a trauma surgeon who in 1985 created the first trauma care system in southern Arizona. A former Army Green Beret, Dr. Carmona also is a sheriff's deputy who in 1992 dangled out of a helicopter to rescue a crash survivor trapped on a cliff.
Dr. Carmona, 52, won the national "Top Cops" award in 2000 after he responded to a traffic accident that turned into a gunbattle with a suspected murderer, who was shot and killed. Dr. Carmona's scalp was grazed by a bullet in that fight, his second wound in the same place. He got the first wound while fighting in Vietnam.
His boss in Tucson, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, said his department is proud of Dr. Carmona. "He is precisely what the doctor ordered," Sheriff Dupnik said.
Dr. Carmona will take over the surgeon general's post from Dr. David Satcher, who was appointed by President Clinton as the nation's highest-ranking doctor and announced last year his intention to step down at the end of his term, which ended last month.


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