Harold Varmus, M.D., said he will be leaving his position as director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a post he has held for almost five years, at the end of March. He noted that he will be moving to New York to “pursue scientific work in the city that I continue to call home.”

Specifically, Dr. Varmus will set up a research laboratory in the Meyer Cancer Center at the Weill-Cornell Medical College and serve as a senior advisor to the Dean. He will also assist research efforts at the New York Genome Center. He hinted that budgetary cutbacks may have played a role in his decision to leave the NCI. “As Mae West famously said, `I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, and rich is better,`” he wrote in his resignation letter.

Dr. Varmus cited a number of key accomplishments during his administration, including NCI’s establishing a Center for Global Health and a Center for Cancer Genomics, reconfiguring the NCI’s clinical trials program to realize greater efficiencies, forming the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, and awarding more supplements to NCI-designated cancer centers’ budgets to encourage work in high priority areas.

Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., chief of the laboratory of cellular oncology at the NCI, will serve as acting director beginning April 1.

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