Nobel Laureate, Cancer Expert to Give Distinguished Lecture

By ChaseYavondaC

The free lecture, “Cancer Research: Then and Now,” will be held in the I. Dodd Wilson Education Building auditorium. Varmus is giving the Robert E. McGehee Jr., Ph.D., Distinguished Lectureship in Biomedical Research as part of the UAMS Graduate School’s annual Student Research Day.

Varmus and his colleague J. Michael Bishop received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1989 for their cancer research, which demonstrated that certain cancer genes can arise from normal cellular genes through mutations. Their work deepened the understanding of cancer development and made way for new types of cancer therapy.

In 1993, Varmus was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as director of the NIH, a post he held until 1999. He then served as president of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He returned to public service in 2010 under President Barack Obama as director of the NCI. He left the NCI in 2015 for his current post as the Lewis Thomas University Professor and Senior Adviser to the Dean and Provost at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.

He has authored more than 350 scientific papers and five books, including the 2009 memoir, “The Art and Politics of Science.” At his Weill Cornell research lab, Varmus continues to study cancer biology and retrovirology.

The McGehee Distinguished Lectureship was created in 2011 as an enduring gift from an anonymous couple to benefit UAMS and the state by making it possible to invite leading biomedical researchers to share their knowledge and work with students and faculty.

“I could not have imagined — only hoped — when this distinguished lectureship began that we would be able to host someone of Dr. Varmus’ stature in the scientific community,” said McGehee, namesake for the lecture and dean of the UAMS Graduate School. “I’m delighted for our students and the public to have this opportunity to hear from someone who has so directly shaped medicine and health policy in the United States.”


UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.