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For nearly four decades, Harold Eliot Varmus (b. 1939) has advanced fundamental scientific knowledge at the intersection of virology, oncology, and genetics, both as a researcher and as Director of NIH and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. With his long-time collaborator J. Michael Bishop, Varmus developed a new theory of the origin of cancer, which holds that the disease arises from mutations in certain of our own normal genes. These mutations are triggered by environmental carcinogens or by naturally occurring errors in the course of cell division and DNA replication. As an expert on retroviruses he chaired the scientific advisory committee that in 1986 proposed the name human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for the etiologic agent of AIDS. In 1993 he became the first Nobel laureate to head NIH.
The University of California, San Francisco Archives and Special Collections is the repository for the Harold Varmus Papers, which range from 1967 to 1993. The collection contains correspondence, lecture notes, photographs, laboratory notebooks, and published articles.
As part of its Profiles in Science project, the National Library of Medicine has collaborated with the University of California, San Francisco Archives and Special Collections to digitize and make available over the World Wide Web a selection of the Harold Varmus Papers for use by educators and researchers. This site provides access to the portions of the Harold Varmus Papers of the University of California, San Francisco Archives and Special Collections that have been selected for digitization. Individuals interested in conducting research in the Harold Varmus Papers are invited to contact the University of California, San Francisco Archives and Special Collections.
This online Exhibit is designed to introduce you to the various phases of Varmus's scientific career and professional life. It is divided into sections that focus on Varmus's life and major scientific contributions. We suggest that new visitors begin with this exhibit, which includes a small selection of documents and visuals, organized within these sections. Each section begins with a "Background Narrative," which leads to "Documents" and "Visuals."
Visitors may access additional materials through Search on the navigation bar. They may also view the materials alphabetically or chronologically by choosing Browse on the navigation bar. Documents and visuals in these lists are arranged by format and then either alphabetically by title or chronologically.