Harold Varmus, MD

Senior Associate Core Member

Harold Varmus, MD, is a Senior Associate Core Member at the New York Genome Center (NYGC). A co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes, Dr. Varmus is the Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, working directly with its Meyer Cancer Center. A recognized leader in the field, Dr. Varmus was the Director of the National Cancer Institute for five years prior to joining the NYGC. He also served as president and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for 10 years and Director of the National Institutes of Health for six years.

During his medical training, Dr. Varmus worked as a medical student in a hospital in India, later joining NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center’s medical house staff. He began his scientific training as a public health service officer at the National Institutes of Health, where he studied bacterial gene expression with Dr. Ira Pastan. Dr. Varmus then trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. J. Michael Bishop at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) where Dr. Varmus became a faculty member there for over two decades.

Dr. Varmus is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and the Academies’ Health and Medicine Division. He is involved in several initiatives to promote science and health in developing countries.  The author of over 350 scientific papers and five books, including a memoir titled “The Art and Politics of Science,” he was a Co-Chair of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Public Library of Science, and Chair of the Scientific Board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges in Global Health. He serves on the Board of Directors at the International Biomedical Research Alliance, a nonprofit organization which provides programming and funding support for the National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program.

Dr. Varmus received a BA degree in English Literature from Amherst College, an MA in English from Harvard University and earned his MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.