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NIAAA Newsletter

Dr. Samir Zakhari Retires

Photo of Sam Zakhari

Dr. Samir Zakhari, director of the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects (DMHE), retired from NIAAA on September 28, 2012.  His retirement marks a more than 25-year history with the Institute.

Dr. Zakhari joined NIAAA in 1986 as a scientific review officer, becoming chief of the Biomedical Research Branch in the Division of Basic Research in 1990. In 1998, he was appointed director of the Division of Basic Research, and, in 2003, he took on his most recent responsibilities in the DMHE.  

Dr. Zakhari’s expertise spans a wide range of biomedical and multidisciplinary fields, including alcohol metabolism and physiology, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, epigenetics, systems biology, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, pharmacology, and toxicology.

He has written more than 70 articles and edited 11 scientific monographs. In addition, he has served as a co-organizer and presenter at scientific meetings across the United States and around the world. In 2011, he presented on such diverse topics as alcoholic liver and pancreatic diseases at an international symposium in Fukuoka, Japan; alcohol drinking and the hepatitis C virus for the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the use of zebra fish genomics and genetic resources for the study of various diseases, including alcohol-induced fatty liver and teratogenesis, as part of a trans-NIH research initiative. He contributed greatly to fostering alcohol research globally by giving presentations about alcoholic liver disease and its interactions with obesity and viral hepatitis in numerous countries including China, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Egypt, Mexico, and Chile.

As director of Division of Basic Research, and subsequently DMHE, Dr. Zakhari guided scientific and support staff in administering a research portfolio of more than 700 grants and helped to establish the NIAAA portfolio. In addition to scientific briefings for the Institute director, Zakhari prepared briefs and materials for the U.S. Congress and legislators and justifications for research initiatives, such as NIH’s Science Advances and Stories of Discovery.

During his tenure at NIAAA, Dr. Zakhari worked extensively to develop collaborations among NIAAA and the other NIH Institutes. For example, he represented NIAAA on the trans-NIH Committee Action Plan for Liver Disease Research, the Stem Cell Implementation Committee, and the Digestive Disease Interagency Coordinating Committee. Dr. Zakhari also found time to answer questions and calls from a wide range of media and press enquiries as a representative for NIAAA, including, among others, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, Time magazine, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and the Associated Press.

Dr. Zakhari now will serve as senior vice president of Science at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Washington, DC, continuing his work in supporting and advancing research into the medical consequences of alcohol consumption.

When asked about his time at NIAAA, Dr. Zakhari said, “I thoroughly enjoyed my work at NIAAA. My interactions with staff at NIAAA and other components of NIH, both intramural and extramural, as well as researchers in the field have immensely enriched my life.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of NIH, one of the most prestigious scientific institutions in the world.”