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Finding Aid to the Harold E. Varmus Papers, 1971-1987, bulk 1974-1980
MSS 84-25  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • System of Arrangement
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Harold E. Varmus Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1971-1987,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1974-1980
    Collection Number: MSS 84-25
    Creator: Varmus, Harold
    Extent: Number of containers: 8 cartons, 2 boxes Linear feet: 11 feet
    Repository: The UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management, Archives and Special Collections
    University of California, San Francisco
    530 Parnassus Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94143-0840
    Phone: (415) 476-8112
    Fax: (415) 476-4653
    Email: http://www.library.ucsf.edu/collres/archives/contactform.html
    URL: http://www.library.ucsf.edu/collres/archives/
    Abstract: This collection consists mainly of files of research and data compiled by Dr. Harold Varmus and his group at UCSF from 1971-1984. Primary areas of inquiry are synthesis and integration of viral DNA, and replication of, and tumor induction by, animal viruses, including the Rous Sarcoma Virus. It is rich in illustrative material such as photographs, slides, graphs, and gels. Also included is correspondence with colleagues and former students during Varmus' 1978-1979 sabbatical in London. Most letters concern research progress, review of manuscripts and publications, and invitations or preparations for conferences and meetings. Varmus was active in American Cancer Society (ACS) grant review and the Virology Study section of NIH. There are a number of notes and slide materials for lectures and talks both in the U.S. and internationally.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog: http://www.library.ucsf.edu/ .

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research; some correspondence files are restricted.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manager of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
    Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Harold E. Varmus Papers, MSS 84-25, The UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management, Archives and Special Collections, University of California, San Francisco.

    Alternate Forms Available

    Digital reproductions of select items from this collection are available on the National Library of Medicine's Profiles in Science. http://www.profiles.nlm.nih.gov/MV 

    Related Collections

    Harold E. Varmus Papers, 1975-1987 (MSS 88-47) and 1967-1993 (MSS 93-51)

    Separated Material


    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Varmus, Harold
    Human Retrovirus Study Group
    AIDS (Disease)
    Nobel prizes
    Virologists--California--San Francisco
    Virology--Research--California--San Francisco
    Cancer cells

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Harold E. Varmus Papers were donated to UCSF by Dr. Varmus in 1984.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Nancy W. Zinn and Valerie Wheat

    Biographical Information

    Born in Oceanside, New York, December 18, 1939, Harold E. Varmus received his undergraduate degree (B.A. magna cum laude) from Amherst College in 1961, an M.A. (in literature) the following year from Harvard University, and the M.D. from Columbia University in 1966. From 1967 to 1970 Varmus was an intern in medicine (1966-67) and Assistant Resident in Medicine (1967-68) at Presbyterian Hospital, New York, and Clinical Associate at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, Bethesda, MD (1968-70). In 1970 he was appointed a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in the Department of Microbiology at UCSF, for 1970-72. At the end of this period Dr. Varmus was appointed Assistant Professor in Residence, for 1972-74, Associate Professor (1974-79), and full Professor, 1979-1993, in that department. He was on the faculty of the Molecular Medicine group in the Program in Biological Sciences (PIBS) consortium.
    In conjunction with J. Michael Bishop, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1989 for their discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes. They also received the Alfred P. Sloan Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation in 1984. Other research colleagues on the faculty at UCSF included Y.W. Kan (hemoglobinopathies), Gordon Tomkins and Keith Yamamoto (glucocorticoid action), and Donald Ganem (hepatitis B viruses). In 1985 Dr. Varmus was selected to give the Annual Faculty Research Lecture at UCSF entitled "Tree-Shaking and Jelly-Making: Growing Up with Retroviruses."
    In 1993, he was appointed Director of the National Institutes of Health where he instituted administrative and personnel reforms, changed the peer review system, created the online publications archive E-biomed, and dealt with political issues such as human embryo research. He resigned in 1999 to become Director of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and was named President of that institution in 2000. In 2002, Varmus was named a recipient of the 2001 National Medal of Science and recognized at a ceremony at the White House with President George W. Bush.
    Varmus is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Omega Alpha, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Society for Microbiology. He was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1984 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988. Among his honors are the following: Woodrow Wilson Fellow (1961-62); International Fellow of Columbia University (1963-64); Smith, Kline, and French Foreign Fellow (Bareilly, India) in 1961; Senior Dernham Fellow, California Division, American Cancer Society (1970-72); USPHS Research Career Development Awardee, 1972-77; Josiah Macy Scholar (Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, 1978-79); California scientist of the Year, 1982; Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, 1982; Passano Foundation Award, 1983; Armand Hammer Cancer Prize, 1984; Gairdner Foundation International Award, 1984; and the American College of Physicians Award, 1987. He received an honorary degree from Amherst College in 1985 and the Alumni Gold Medal from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1989.
    Dr. Varmus served as associate editor of Cell and Virology (1974-84), and as a member of various working groups and study sections at the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health. From 1981-1986, Varmus chaired the Retrovirus Study Group within the Vertebrate Virus Subcommitee of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. In this role he convened a subcommittee to investigate proposed nomenclature of AIDS-associated viruses in humans. He has co-authored more than 300 scientific papers and four books, including Genes and the Biology of Cancer for a general audience.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection documents research and other professional activities of Dr. Harold Varmus while on the faculty of UCSF. In comparison to the two related collections of Varmus papers, evidence of day-to-day research makes up the bulk of the material. Files in Series 3 contain very detailed data, charts and graphs, photographs, slides, and gels on experiments performed by Varmus and his group to investigate mouse mammary tumor virus, viral DNA, and avian retroviruses. There are also course syllabi, notes, and lecture slides for special topics such as cancer causation and RNA tumor viruses. Grant review correspondence and financial files cover projects funded by the American Cancer Society and National Institutes of Health. Some of these were joint projects on Rous Sarcoma Virus with Dr. J. Michael Bishop who later shared the Nobel Prize with Varmus.
    Correspondence files concern journal articles and manuscripts, plans for sabbatical and conference attendance, and departmental matters. Some of these correspondence files are restricted. In the conference and meeting folders are conference agendas and programs, steno notebooks of handwritten notes taken there, and text and slides for presentations by Varmus on mapping tumor virus genes and animal viruses.
    The Collection is divided into 4 Series. I. Correspondence; II. Grant Records and Research Agencies; III. Research; IV. Conferences and Meetings.