Awarded: April 2000
(b. Dec. 18, 1939)
Harold Varmus began his career as a surgeon in the U.S. Public Health Service. He moved to San Francisco and joined the University of California Medical Center. There he met Michael Bishop, whose partnership and research into cancer genes would change the course of cancer research. In 1989 Varmus was the corecipient of a Nobel Prize for his research into oncogenes. In November 1993, he was appointed director of the National Institutes of Health. After six years in the most important and visible leadership position in the U.S. biomedical research community, he stepped down as director, moving to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to accept a position as President.