Is 65 too old to stay at the helm of a major research center? That question is sowing division at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Science has learned, and has plunged the 128-year-old institute, home to 1200 scientists and the place where HIV was first isolated, into a leadership crisis. At the center is Christian Bréchot, a physician and viral hepatitis specialist whose first 4-year term as Pasteur president will end on 1 October 2017.
Bréchot, who previously led INSERM, the French biomedical research agency, aspires to a second term, but he will turn 65 in July 2017. Under the governing statutes of the foundation that runs the Paris center, that disqualifies him for the renewal, Pasteur’s 21-strong board of directors has concluded. Angered by the board’s refusal to change the rules, Pasteur’s General Meeting, a parliament-style governing body, dissolved the board in June. Now, Bréchot’s future is in limbo.