Harold Varmus stepping down as director of US cancer institute

first_img“I take this step with a mixture of regret and anticipation,” wrote Varmus, who won the 1989 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, in an open letter today. “Regret, because I will miss this job and my working relationships with so many dedicated and talented people. Anticipation, because I look forward to new opportunities to pursue scientific work in the city, New York, that I continue to call home.”Varmus, who served as NIH’s director from 1993 to 1999, returned to run NCI in 2010. As NCI director, he pushed studies of tumor genomics to tailor treatments to cancer patients, and launched a “provocative questions” initiative to get researchers to explore mysteries of cancer. With other biomedical research leaders, he also prodded the research community to discuss the problem of the oversupply of young biomedical researchers during flat budget times.In his letter, Varmus notes that NCI’s budget has “endured losses in real as well as adjusted dollars” during his tenure, and “survived the threats and reality of government shutdowns. … This experience has been especially vivid to those of us who have lived in better times, when NIH was the beneficiary of strong budgetary growth. As Mae West famously said, ‘I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, and rich is better.’ “”While penury is never a good thing, I have sought its silver linings,” he continued. “My efforts to cope with budgetary limits have been guided by Lord Rutherford’s appeal to his British laboratory group during a period of fiscal restraint a century ago: ‘… we’ve run out of money, it is time to start thinking.’ “Varmus’s full letter to NCI staff can be read here.NIH’s press release is here.You can also read Science’s 2013 profile of Varmus. 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Harold Varmus, the fiesty, outspoken virologist who has led the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for nearly 5 years, will leave his post at the end of March.”It has been our great fortune to have Harold at the helm of the NCI,” said NIH Director Francis Collins in a statement today. “His breadth and depth of expertise in biomedical research is unparalleled, and he’s been a tremendous colleague to me and invaluable to the agency.”Douglas Lowy, who currently serves as NCI’s deputy director, will become acting director. Lowy is a long-time NCI intramural researcher known for his work on vaccines. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img

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