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Karen Mallet

Statement from Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center on NCI Director-designate Harold Varmus

Washington, DC -- President Barack Obama announced yesterday his intent to appoint Harold Varmus, MD, as director of the National Cancer Institute.

In reaction to the announcement, Louis Weiner, MD, director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, issued the following statement:

“This is a time of unprecedented opportunity in cancer research. I look forward to the new NCI director being a powerful and persuasive advocate within the government to assure that this opportunity is matched by the resources needed to meet the needs and expectations of the American people.

“I expect Dr. Varmus to bring to the NCI a bold, compelling and inclusive vision that balances the proven power of great individual investigator-initiated science with the extraordinary promise of complex, team-oriented science to accelerate both discovery research and translation of new findings into individual and public health benefits.

“I hope Dr. Varmus will recognize and nurture the remarkable capacities of the NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and Clinical Cancer Centers to take leadership roles in clinical care, cutting-edge clinical research, basic investigation and applications to large populations. It is a huge and very exciting challenge.”

Rebecca Riggins, PhD, assistant professor at Lombardi, offered her comments on the impact the NCI director can have on our nation’s young career scientists:

“I look to Dr. Varmus to bring a renewed focus to the NCI that will support young career scientists who are vital to the future of cancer research.

“As a new assistant professor, obtaining funding for my developing research program is my primary goal. These are challenging times to be transitioning from trainee to independent investigator. In the last couple of years, the NIH has made a tremendous commitment to support the careers of junior faculty by implementing changes in the peer review process to assist new and early stage investigators in obtaining their first R01 grants. However, my concerns for the future lie beyond my first R01.

“It is my sincere hope that Dr. Varmus has a vision to achieve a high level of support for those of us in the extramural community.”

About Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Lombardi is one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only one in the Washington, DC, area. For more information, go to

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), home to 60 percent of the university’s sponsored research funding.


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