March 30, 2007
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.— Harold Varmus ’61, an American virologist and recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on the origins of cancer, will speak on the future of science in the 21st century at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 16, in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Victor S. Johnson Lectureship Fund at Amherst, Varmus’s talk is free and open to the public.

After graduating from Amherst College with a B.A. degree in English in 1961, Varmus received an M.A. in literature from Harvard University in 1962. He returned to the study of medicine and received his M.D. degree from Columbia University in 1966. In 1966, he joined the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md., in 1966, where he studied bacterial gene regulation by cyclic AMP. In 1970 Varmus went to the University of California, San Francisco, as a postdoctoral fellow. At San Francisco he and J. Michael Bishop began the research into the origins of cancer for which they jointly received the Nobel Prize in 1989.

In 1993 Varmus was appointed director of the National Institutes of Health. Since 2000, he has served as president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Varmus’s other awards include California Scientist of the Year (1982), the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1982), the Passano Foundation Award (1983), the Armand Hammer Cancer Prize (1984), the Alfred P. Sloan Prize from the General Motors Cancer Foundation (1984), the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1984) and the American College of Physicians Award (1987). He was elected to the National Academy of Science (1984) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1988), and received an honorary degree from Amherst College (1985) and the Alumni Gold Medal from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia (1989).

The Victor S. Johnson Lectureship Fund was established in memory of Victor S. Johnson (1882-1943) by his sons for the purpose of “bringing to the campus each year a stimulating individual worthy of the lectureship’s purpose of serving the best tradition of the liberal arts and individual freedom.”