Much of Dr. Varmus’ scientific work was conducted during 23 years as a faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical School, where he and Dr. J. Michael Bishop and their co-workers demonstrated the cellular origins of the oncogene of a chicken retrovirus. This discovery led to the isolation of many cellular genes that normally control growth and development and are frequently mutated in human cancer. For this work, Bishop and Varmus received many awards, including the 1989 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Varmus is also widely recognized for his studies of the replication cycles of retroviruses and hepatitis B viruses, the functions of genes implicated in cancer, and the development of mouse models of human cancer.
In addition, he has overseen the construction of new clinical facilities (for pediatrics, pathology, urology, and surgery); the planning of a new center for breast cancer treatment and imaging; the founding of a hospital-based program in translational research (the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program); and the development of the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative. To ensure that MSKCC is promoting high quality cancer care for all citizens of New York and equal opportunities for its employees, he has helped to found and oversee a new cancer clinic in central Harlem (the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention) and new programs for diversity and gender equity (the Office of Diversity Programs in Clinical Care, Research, and Training, and the Women Faculty Affairs Program).
Sloan-Kettering – President’s Pages