Varmus's Second Act

Jocelyn is a staff writer for Science magazine.

Harold Varmus led the National Institutes of Health during a time of plenty in the 1990s, when Congress began to double its budget. When he came back to head the National Cancer Institute in 2010, the funding climate had decisively chilled. Now, too many biomedical researchers are chasing a dwindling pot of money, and there is a troubling sense of "hypercompetition," he says. As he deals with the pain of tight budgets, Varmus is trying to preserve money for new investigator-initiated grants while making the peer-review process fairer.

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