Renowned Cancer Researcher and Leader of Scientific Institutions Wins Prestigious Friesen Prize in Health Research

    TORONTO, June 17 /CNW/ - Dr. Harold Varmus, President of the Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Nobel Laureate, has been awarded
the 2008 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research. The Friesen
Prize recognizes Dr. Varmus' exceptional leadership and innovative
contributions to medical research and to the promotion of science over the
past four decades.
    His early research on retroviruses, conducted jointly with Dr. J. Michael
Bishop at the University of California, San Francisco, led to the discovery of
a class of normal cellular genes that undergo mutation during the generation
of human cancer; for this work, the pair received the Nobel Prize in
Physiology or Medicine in 1989. His more recent work has focused on the
development of mouse models of human cancer, with special emphasis on
mutations that produce adenocarcinomas of the lung. Dr. Varmus has published
over 400 scientific papers and several textbooks, including one for the
general public. A more personal account of his scientific career, The Art and
Politics of Science, will be published by W.W. Norton this winter.
    From 1993 until the end of 1999, Dr. Varmus served under President Bill
Clinton as Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the largest
organization in the world for the conduct and support of medical research.
During his tenure at the NIH, he was an effective advocate for basic research,
promoted several novel research initiatives, and was instrumental in securing
a plan for doubling the agency's budget over five years.
    As part of his efforts to promote the use of science to address global
health, he has chaired the Scientific Board of the Grand Challenges in Global
Health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The GCGH initiative has
awarded nearly $450 million to over forty research teams to work on roadblocks
to progress against major infectious diseases, including TB, HIV/AIDS, and
malaria, as well as drug resistance and non-communicable diseases. To ensure
that new knowledge is used effectively and shared widely, in both developing
and advanced countries, he established a public digital library of scientific
papers (PubMedCentral) at the NIH and is a co-founder and chairman of the
board of the Public Library of Science, a publisher of prestigious open access
journals in medicine and biology. As an advocate of presenting science to the
public, he has been a frequent panelist and guest host on the Charlie Rose
television show.
    As part of the Friesen Prize Program, Dr. Varmus will speak at a Public
Forum on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 at MaRS Discovery District in
Toronto. He will address the prospects for improving global health through the
promotion of scientific work world-wide.
    The Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research was
established in 2005 by Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(FCIHR) in recognition of Dr. Henry Friesen's distinguished leadership, vision
and innovative contributions to Health and Health Research Policy. The Prize
is a collaborative project of FCIHR with the Canadian Academy of Health
Sciences (CAHS) and CBC Radio One and includes a $20,000 Award.
    Further information on Friends of CIHR and the Friesen International
Prize is available at: For a full biographical sketch of
Dr. Varmus, please see:

For further information:

For further information: on the Friesen Prize Program, contact: Cristina
S. Castellvi, Friends of CIHR: (416) 506-1597, Kathryn Hendrick, Media Team
Leader: (416) 233-3023

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