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A Nobel Prize-winning cancer biologist, leader of major scientific institutions, and veteran of science policy wars reflects on his remarkable career.
In 1993, Varmus transformed from an academic scientist to a political one when President Clinton asked him to direct the National Institutes of Health. After six years at the NIH, he took the reins as president of the world-renowned Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a position he still holds. Along the way, Varmus has continued his own laboratory work, remains committed to collaborative science, and still finds time to ride his bike to work.
Beyond the elegant combination of science and biography, this is a book about health issues of truly global importance. Varmus’s work on cancer-causing genes foreshadowed the development of the recent targeted therapies for cancer. At the NIH, he not only persuaded Congress to commit record funds to national health programs but also turned attention to international concerns like the worldwide malaria crisis. And, as he discusses in these pages, he has long been an enthusiastic yet nuanced supporter of stem cell research. The Art and Politics of Science is a glimpse into the world of high-stakes, big-budget science narrated by a man intimately acquainted with its everyday applications—an education for people in all walks of life from a scientist whose own research and professional commitments helped to shape our scientific age.
“An engaging read, fascinating as a memoir of Varmus’s personal and scientific journeys, revealing in its account of his stewardship of the NIH. The book is like the man—honest and clear-eyed, thoughtful and outspoken, always good company, with more than a frequent touch of humour and self-deprecation.” — Scientific American
“[A] perceptive book about science and its civic value, arriving as the White House renews its acquaintance with empiricism. Varmus recounts his laboratory career and tenure as director of the National Institutes of Health, then surveys topical issues like stem-cell research. One implication of this book is that far from disconnecting politics and science, we should find better ways of linking them.” — Peter Dizikes, The New York Times
“Varmus offers a plain-spoken and fascinating story of his path from graduate student in English literature to the forefront of biomedical research. His journey to the highest echelons of the scientific establishment is as interesting for its incidental details as for its glimpse into the process of modern biomedical science.” — Seth Shulman, The Washington Post