President-elect Barack Obama has named Harold Varmus as a co-chair of the Presidents’ Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a team that will work with White House science adviser John Holdren (Yahoo story). Varmus won a Nobel Prize in 1989 for his work on elucidating how retroviruses cause transformation of cells. He is currently president and chief executive officer of New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Previously, Varmus served as director of the US National Institutes of Health. During his tenure there, the NIH research budget doubled, underscoring his enthusiasm for scientific research. His presence on PCAST is an auspicious sign that the Obama administration will revitalize the US research community.
Also named to PCAST with Varmus is Eric Lander, Professor of Biology at MIT, a well known scientist who is exploring the use of the human genome in medicine.