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CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer passes the baton to Fabiola Gianotti

Geneva, 18 December 2015. The 178th session of the CERN Council today saw the handover ceremony from Rolf Heuer, CERN1’s Director-General for the past seven years, to Fabiola Gianotti, who will take up her functions at the head of the Organization on 1 January 2016. On the same day, Sijbrand de Jong will become the new CERN Council President, taking over from Agnieszka Zalewska at the end of her three-year term.

“I wish CERN a future rich in discoveries and innovations, and I wish the next President of Council, Sijbrand de Jong, every success in his new challenging position,” said President of the CERN Council Agnieszka Zalewska.

“I would like to thank the CERN Council delegates for entrusting me with this responsibility,” said incoming President of Council Sijbrand de Jong. “I wish to CERN a luminous and energetic year 2016.”

Council delegates paid tribute to, and warmly thanked Rolf Heuer for his leadership and the work accomplished during his term of office. During his mandate the LHC was successfully commissioned, providing the global scientific community with a unique tool for studying the fundamental laws of nature.

“These have been seven fantastic years for science and international collaboration. I have enjoyed every single day of it, and I’m confident that CERN will continue to shine in the future,” said Director-General Rolf Heuer.

The scientific highlight of the past seven years was the announcement in 2012 of the discovery of a new particle proving the existence of the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism. Many other significant scientific results also contributed to enlarging the sum of human knowledge before a two-year shutdown, which enabled the LHC to reach an unprecedented energy this year as Run 2 got underway. In the light of these achievements, the CERN Council congratulated the management team and all the personnel on the scientific and technical excellence demonstrated by the Organization, and presented its best wishes to incoming Director-General, Fabiola Gianotti.

“The new management inherits a laboratory in great shape. For that I would like to thank Rolf Heuer and his team along with all staff, users and Member States,” said incoming Director-General Fabiola Gianotti. “We have a great legacy to build on, and a very bright future ahead.”

The CERN Council also praised the efforts made towards the Organization’s geographical enlargement over recent years, during which time CERN has welcomed Israel as a new Member State. Romania and Serbia are expected to join as Member States in the near future. Pakistan and Turkey became Associate Member States in 2015, and links with many other countries have been strengthened.

The LHC has now shut down for its traditional winter technical stop and will restart in March 2016. Its smooth running during 2015 augurs well for a successful run in 2016, which should enable the experiments to collect a substantial amount of new data, and promises a bright future for the LHC.

1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its member states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Romania is a Candidate for Accession. Serbia is an Associate Member in the pre-stage to Membership. Pakistan and Turkey are Associate Members. India, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, the European Union, JINR and UNESCO have observer status.