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Harold Varmus has worked at the US National Institutes of Health three times: right out of medical school, as its director, and as the director of its cancer institutes, he tells The Journal of the American Medical Association.

"I learned the thrills of being at the [scientific] frontier and asking questions," he adds. "I gave up clinical medicine, went into basic research in virology and the origins of cancer, and developed a deep affection for the NIH."

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