Who: Dr. Harold Varmus, 75
Retiring as: Director of the National Cancer Institute, the largest division of the National Institutes of Health, a role he has held since July 2010. Prior to leading the NCI, Varmus was president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, and director of the National Institutes of Health. He won a Nobel Prize with Dr. Mike Bishop in 1989 for their work with oncogenes.
New role: Professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, effective April 1. He will also work with the New York Genome Center to highlight work on cancer genomics and how it can be applied.
On his NCI career: “I have enjoyed each of these opportunities, but the NCI directorship has been the most meaningful to me—a more than full-time job, addressed to one of the greatest and most complex threats to human life throughout the globe.”
NCI under his watch: Varmus oversaw the NCI as it established centers for global health and cancer genomics, and increased support to NCI-designated cancer centers and hospitals, even though funding to the NCI declined by $180 million during his tenure. Congressional budget battles and mandated cuts from sequestration have chipped away at NIH funding. “I have tried to take advantage of some amazing new opportunities to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancers, despite fiscal duress,” he said.