The Nobel Prize-winning former CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Varmus is the Director of the National Cancer Institute.
After attending medical school at Columbia and following a stint at a hospital in India, Varmus returned to the U.S. to pursue a career in research, taking a position at the National Institutes of Health. In 1970 he moved to UC-San Francisco, where he became a full professor in 1979 and earned international fame a decade later, winning the 1989 Nobel Prize for medicine for his research into the genetic basis of cancer. In 1993, President Bill Clinton tapped him to head up the NIH; during his seven-year stint in charge of more than 13,000 scientists, Varmus championed the development of the electronic research archive PubMed and proved himself a savvy political networker, lobbying the federal government to nearly double the agency's budget. He left the NIH to join Sloan-Kettering in 2000, replacing Dr. Paul Marks.
While working at the country's premier cancer hospital, Varmus sought to uphold MSK's reputation as a research powerhouse by creating new programs, hiring additional staff and, of course, raising more money. He landed a multi-million dollar donation in 2005 from Hank Greenberg's Starr Foundation, which is funding stem cell research and graduate training programs in chemical biology and computational biology, and a donation by Ralph Lauren allowed MSK to open a cancer center in Harlem in 2003. But in 2006 Varmus landed possibly his single biggest donation when real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman agreed to donate $100 million to MSK. The largest gift in the hospital's history enabled the hospital's biggest expansion yet: a 23-story, 693,000 square-foot facility on East 68th Street. However, after ten years with MSK, Varmus was tapped by President Obama to head the National Cancer Institute, where he has championed an open access system for scientific papers. [Image via Getty]