Harold Varmus

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Harold Varmus has done it all: Nobel Prize–winning breakthroughs in cancer biology, masterful leadership of the National Institutes of Health, statesmanship of the highest order in global health, and cheerful trench warfare to bring biomedical publications to the open-source Internet age. Currently he's the President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital and a science advisor to Barack Obama. His memoir is The Art and Politics of Science.


Dr. Harold Varmus

Comments [9]

greg dorsainville from astoria

that's right! he writes for scienceblogs as well, duh to me. That was really good stuff!

Mar. 18 2009 02:51 AM
GrrlScientist from

open notebook? perhaps your speaker was a good friend and colleague, Bora Zivkovic?

Mar. 17 2009 07:07 PM
greg dorsainville from astoria

agreed, it does lead to some pretty nefarious outcomes. I am a big fan and advocate of open science, something that varmas mentioned in his interviews. with that, you can still support competition, but also weed out the cheaters.

open notebook is a good example. i went to a lecture on it at columbia recently, and it was very encouraging.

Mar. 17 2009 06:26 PM
GrrlScientist from

The intense competition can actually damage high-quality research and lead to the ruination of science itself, especially in the minds of the public. Don't believe me? Look at the most recent high-profile example: the massive fraud in medical anesthesia perpetuated by "Dr." Scott S. Reuben during the previous 12 YEARS. He is an example of a man who used the many multi-million-dollar grants of the public's money to line his pockets while hundreds of other extremely well-qualified scientists who are trying to start their careers languished on unemployment, or worse. If that one example doesn't worry and disgust and OUTRAGE you, then nothing can! I can certainly share more examples, but that's just a start.

Mar. 17 2009 03:34 PM
Greg Dorsainville from astoria

hey grrlscientist from science blogs. I know what you mean. But you can't ignore that science as a viable career is on the decline with a certain demo in america, white males. women phd's, up, minorities, up. and now with people reconsidering a finance career, those minds can help science.

when scientists who have a media outlet and go on the air, they need to sell science as a viable avenue to get a living. can you imagine if someone went on the air and said, nope, enough scientists, move on! the hit schools and institutions would take would be felt for years!

More candidates instills competition, which is something most phd candidates and phd students don't want to hear, and that pressure can improve quality of research.

I feel for you though. It would make me mad if i was in that tenure situation as well.

Mar. 17 2009 02:22 PM
GrrlScientist from

As an long-term unemployed molecular evolutionary biologist, I am SICK of hearing scientists and the MSM blindly parrot the sentiment that "there aren't enough scientists in this country." This is a LIE perpetuated by PIs in academic institutions whose labs would collapse if they actually paid their grad students and postdocs their REAL worth instead of the poverty-levels wages they currently earn. Further, it is a FACT that there are TOO MANY PhD scientists in this country and it is also a FACT that for every 100 PhDs graduating each year, there is only ONE tenure-track position available for them to fill. Sure, some newly-minted scientists work for Big Pharma, non-profits and governmental agencies, such as NASA, USFWS, etc., but even these companies and agencies are currently cutting back on their scientists. The FACT is that the vast majority of us PhD scientists are stuck in low-wage temporary jobs (if we are lucky), or are struggling to start our own businesses -- if our skills are even viewed as being worth purchasing by the public. And the worst thing of all is the toll in damaged lives that this lie causes: excellent scientists are being discarded like dirty underwear and are TOLD they are "worthless".

Mar. 17 2009 02:08 PM
Greg Dorsainville from astoria

did leonard really just ask if scientists "like the arts?"

Mar. 17 2009 02:02 PM

Great collection of interviews today!

Mar. 17 2009 01:59 PM
severals from bridge and tunnel

Still rides his bicycle to work every morning... Gotta love this dude.

Mar. 17 2009 11:11 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.