Gary Nabel, one of the most prominent researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), is moving to big pharma. Nabel, an immunologist and virologist who came to NIH in 1999 to head the newly formed Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), on 3 December will become chief scientific officer at Sanofi. Although the pharmaceutical multinational is headquartered in Paris, Nabel will work from its offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Nabel says it was a wrenching decision to leave VRC. "There's really nothing about the job that I don't like," he says. But in November 2009, his wife, Elizabeth, stepped down from her job as director of NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to become president of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "We've been commuting for 3 years and, quite honestly, if it hadn't been for that, I wouldn't have looked for a new job in the first place," he says. "The opportunity to be in the same town and wake up in the same place is obviously important to me."
Nabel built a team of researchers at VRC who have published high-profile studies and pushed forward vaccines for HIV, bird flu, SARS, and Ebola. "We'll miss him tremendously because he's such an extraordinary individual," says NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Although VRC has yet to bring a vaccine to market, Fauci says that Nabel "created a process that will get us there."