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National Cancer Institute director set for Discovery Lecture

Nov. 14, 2013, 9:20 AM

The director of the National Cancer Institute, Harold Varmus, M.D., will deliver the next Flexner Discovery Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 21. His lecture, “New Directions in Cancer Research,” will begin at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall.

Harold Varmus, M.D.

Varmus shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his colleague J. Michael Bishop, M.D., for their studies of the genetic basis of cancer. Varmus and Bishop, working together at the University of California, San Francisco, demonstrated that retroviral oncogenes (cancer-causing genes in viruses) were mutated cellular genes that normally regulate cell growth and development.

Before becoming director of the National Cancer Institute in 2010, Varmus served as director of the National Institutes of Health (1993-1999) and as president and chief executive officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (2000-2010). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine and is involved in multiple initiatives to promote science and health in developing countries.

Varmus has served as co-chair of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and was a co-founder and chairman of the board of the Public Library of Science — a publisher of open-access journals in the biomedical sciences. He is the author of more than 350 scientific papers and five books, including his 2009 memoir, “The Art and Politics of Science.”

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center is sponsoring Varmus’ lecture. For a complete schedule of the Flexner Discovery Lecture series and archived video of previous lectures, go to

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