Varmus Papers

There is a lot of full texts written by or about nobel prize laureate Harold Varmus, an open access advocate and co-founder of the “Public Library of Science” (PLoS).

See e.g. the full texts of speeches (1993-2005) at

PubMed Central finds 4891 article with the keyword “varmus”, 4887 are free.

From a recent press release (distributed today in the archives-L):

National Institutes of Health
December 1, 2006
National Library of Medicine

The National Library of Medicine, a part of the National Institutes of Health, announces the release of an extensive selection from the papers of molecular biologist and science administrator, Harold Varmus, on its Profiles in Science Web site at

The Library has collaborated with the University of California, San Francisco Archives and Special Collections to digitize his papers and make them widely available. This brings to 20 the number of notable scientists who have personal and professional records included in Profiles.

With his long time collaborator, J. Michael Bishop, Varmus developed a new theory of the origin of cancer, which holds that the disease is not inflicted by external agents, such as environmental carcinogens, but arises from mutations in certain of our own genes.


The online exhibition features correspondence, laboratory and lecture notes, research proposals, published articles, and photographs from the Harold Varmus papers at the University of California, San Francisco. Visitors to the site can view, for example, Varmus’s schematic depictions of gene control in birds, an extensive exchange of letters regarding the naming of HIV, and a photograph of Varmus receiving the Montgomery County (Md.) bicyclist of the year award.

It is strange that printed publications – as a very small selection – by Varmus (shown with permission of the right holders or Varmus himself) in this virtual exhibition are treated as “documents” without any connection or links to the mentioned full text sources.

Varmus texts or letters have no free licenses like the PLoS license CC-BY.

It is strange to see that laboratory photographs of DNA (possibly Public Domaine because of lack of originality) are “Reproduced with permission of the Regents of the University of California”. This seems to be Copyfraud. All Varmus letter are showing the same claim. Is there a need for an “author’s addendum” if a researchers deposits his papers?

This frumpy exhibition is no model for the future. The aim has to be to show scholarly excellence in an open access environment. Free full texts have to be an core element of such presentations.

There is no need to separate “archival” document presentations from the open access topic (which is mainly discussed by librarians and researchers). Archival materials have to be free in the same way like journal articles (see the Berlin declaration in 2003).

OpenEdition schlägt Ihnen vor, diesen Beitrag wie folgt zu zitieren:
Klaus Graf (1. Dezember 2006). Varmus Papers. Archivalia. Abgerufen am 17. Juli 2024 von

Autor: Klaus Graf

Historiker und Archivar, Blogger

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