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French president appoints scientists to research-related ministries

University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Maya Angelsen Biochemist Frédérique Vidal (left) is the new French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and hematologist Agnès Buzyn heads the Health MinistryUniversity of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Maya Angelsen

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Prime Minister Édouard Philippe have named individuals from science and academia to head ministries. Frédérique Vidal, a 53-year-old biochemist, was appointed Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, a position now revived after that ministry was merged into the Ministry of National Education in 2014. Vidal, an expert in reproductive genetics, brings to the government her experience as president of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. Another appointee from academia is Jean-Michel Blanquer, 52, who was named Minister of Education. Trained in law, philosophy and political science, Blanquer was president of the ESSEC Business School, one of France’s most influential graduate schools of business. From 2009 to 2012, he headed the Ministry’s secondary education department.  Agnès Buzyn, a 54-year-old physician and hematology researcher, was appointed to the Ministry of Health and Solidarity. She previously headed public institutions such as the French National Cancer Institute and the French National Authority for Health. From 2002 to 2006 she led a cancer immunology research group at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm). Since Buzyn is married to current Inserm director, Yves Lévy, all matters connected with the institute will be handled directly by Prime Minister Philippe, so as to avoid conflicts of interest.