After nearly 6 weeks without a director-general, France's $2.2 billion basic research agency named a new leader today. Geneviève Berger, currently the research ministry's director of technology, will replace former CNRS chief Catherine Bréchignac, whose mandate expired in mid-July. A squabble between President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin over whether Bréchignac should stay or go was apparently responsible for the delay (Science, 28 July, p. 523).
Berger, 45, has advanced degrees in physical sciences, human biology, and medicine. She is well known for her work in applied medical research, especially new techniques for medical imaging. Such practical accomplishments made her attractive to the French government, which is pushing to make basic research serve the economy. An understanding of science's impact on the bottom line is now "an essential qualification for being CNRS head," says one French researcher.