Dr. Harold Varmus, director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, announced Wednesday that he will step down effective March 31.
Varmus was appointed by President Barack Obama in May 2010 to lead the institute, which is the cancer-research branch of the National Institutes of Health. In his letter to the NCI community, Varmus said his decision to resign comes with “a mixture of regret and anticipation.”
Varmus’ accomplishments during his nearly five-year tenure are numerous, according to his peers. His influence was felt at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in particular for his stewardship of important research programs during a difficult financial period, said Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. D. Gary Gilliland.
“Dr. Varmus' extraordinary leadership at the NCI, even in times of fiscal constraint, has enabled groundbreaking advances in cancer biology and therapy to move forward apace,” Gilliland said. “It is his longstanding vision that has led us, as a national and international community of cancer centers and investigators, to the threshold of developing true cures for cancer.”