Harold E. Varmus

Harold Elliot Varmus is an American Nobel Prize-winning scientist. He shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with John Michael Bishop. They discovered that a normal cellular gene, c-src can cause can mutate into an abnormally functional oncogene which can cause cancer. This changed the common belief of that time that cancer is caused by a foreign substance, i.e. a viral gene.


Varmus studied English literature at Amherst College and earned a graduate degree in English at Harvard University in 1962, but after he graduated he decided to pursue a medical degree as well. As he was rejected from Harvard medical school, Varmus studied medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He conducted the research that lead to the Nobel Prize during his post-doctoral studies at University of California. Varmus is currently working as head of his laboratory in the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program at the Sloan-Kettering Institute and the the director of the National Cancer Institute.

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Virologist VIROLOGIST (Retroviral oncogenes)
Harold Varmus
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1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine

2001 National Medal of Science

2010 received honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School

Harold Varmus (2009). The Art and Politics of Science. W. W. Norton.

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  • Postings

    Head of Laboratory

    Cancer Biology and Genetics Program at the Sloan-Kettering Institute


    National Cancer Institute

    Chairman of the Board of Directors

    Public Library of Science