ASCO Commends Dr. Varmus for Outstanding Leadership

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Following news of Dr. ­Varmus’ planned departure from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), ASCO issued the following ­statement:

ASCO is enormously grateful for the service and leadership of Harold Varmus, MD, as Director of the National Cancer Institute [NCI]. During Dr. Varmus’ tenure, the cancer community made important strides in modernizing cancer research for the molecular era.

“Dr. Varmus established valuable initiatives that will help transform cancer research for the 21st century and improve cancer care on a global level,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Richard L. ­Schilsky, MD, FACP, ­FASCO. “He accomplished these tasks during a period when the NCI faced unprecedented financial instability.”

After becoming NCI Director in June 2010, Dr. Varmus’ efforts included creating the Institute’s Center for Global Health; establishing an initiative for asking provocative questions on complex issues in cancer research; and developing the cancer component of the Precision Medicine Initiative, which was announced in January 2015.

Dr. Varmus also led the transformation of the cooperative group program into the National Clinical Trials Network, which is now undertaking highly innovative clinical trials that aim to bring the benefits of precision medicine to patients. In addition, the Society was proud to have Dr. Varmus share his insights on decades of progress against cancer and the future of cancer research at ASCO’s 2011 Annual Meeting.

“As NCI Director, Dr. Varmus drew on his deep knowledge of cancer biology and the nation’s biomedical research enterprise to focus the efforts of the cancer community on identifying and tackling the most vexing problems in cancer research and care,” said Dr. Schilsky. “ASCO is grateful for his service to the cancer community and the country.” ■

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Harold Varmus, MD, who has led the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for nearly 5 years, has announced that he will step down from his post, effective March 31, 2015.

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