Clare Hall King Lecture 2016

Harold Varmus: Inaugural King Lecturer for the Biomedical Sciences

Clare Hall has established a new annual lecture series, the King Lectures in Biomedical Sciences. This lecture series is made possible through a generous gift from Professor Donald West King. Donald King is a pathologist and has held faculty positions in Pathology at Yale, University of Colorado, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago. He is a Life Member of Clare Hall.

Dr Harold Varmus visited Clare Hall for a week in April to deliver the inaugural King Lectures in Biomedical Sciences. The first lecture took place on 25 April at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology where Dr Varmus gave an account of past, present and future challenges in cancer research. This was followed on 28 April by a lecture at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, describing current research in the Varmus laboratory. Finally, Clare Hall members and scientists from around Cambridge gathered for the King Lecture entitled “The Paradoxes of scientific life in America”, which was followed by dinner at Clare Hall.  The lecture was a reflection on his own experience of a career in research and the many challenges facing those undertaking a scientific career currently, and raised many questions and comments among the audience.  Attending the subsequent dinner at Clare hall were many notable scientists in the biomedical area and senior members of the University.

Dr Varmus stayed in Clare Hall with his wife Constance Casey in the Mary Elizabeth & Donald West King Rooms. Many Clare Hall fellows, post-docs and students had the pleasure of meeting with them in a varied and very enjoyable week of entertainment and scientific discussions.

Dr Varmus received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1989, jointly with J. Michael Bishop, for their discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes. This work was performed at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. Dr Varmus was the Director of the US National Institutes of Health / NIH (1993 - 1999), President of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2000 – 2010), and Director of the National Cancer Institute (2010 – 2015). Currently, he is the Lewis Thomas University Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. He has been a strong supporter and driver of open publishing initiatives.

A recording of the inaugural King Lecture is available to view here.