Conrad Lautenbacher, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, has announced that he will leave his post on 31 October 2008. Filling in for Lautenbacher will be William Brennan, Ph.D., who will serve as the Acting Administrator of NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] until the next Presidential administration. Brennan is currently Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Deputy Administrator of NOAA

Lautenbacher, a retired Navy Vice Admiral, has been with the Administration almost seven years. During his time at NOAA, he oversaw the establishment of the world's largest marine protected area in the Hawaiian Islands. During the same period, however, the agency was accused of censoring agency scientists and criticized for inadequate funding for climate and weather satellites.

"I am leaving essentially at the time of the election when all the work of this congress is over," Lautenbacher said. "It's the end of the administration. NOAA is a politically appointed position, and, as much as I don't like the concept that I am a political appointee, it is time to go."

Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has announced that he will step down at the end of October. Dr. Zerhouni has been with the NIH since 2002. During his tenure, the agency launched the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research program with the goal of bringing various NIH groups together to fund research initiatives that could have a major impact on science. Zerhouni has also been criticized by some in the scholarly publishing community for his implementation of open access publishing requirements.

"Elias has been a powerful voice for the medical research community as head of the NIH." said Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt. "His many achievements include promotion of genetic research, support for advances of biodefense research and helping raise awareness of women's heart disease."


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