The cat staffed by Harold Varmus

Harold Varmus is, of course, a famous scientist: he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 1989 (shared with J. M. Bishop) for discovering the role of “retroviral oncogenes” in causing cancer. (These are genes inserted by retroviruses that can mutate to produce cancer cells.) Varmus was also head of the National Institutes of Health and later of the National Cancer Institute (appointed to the second position by Obama), and now is Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a Senior Associate at the New York Genome Center. (He also signed my copy of Faith versus Fact, which is nearing completion of the autograph collection. It will be auctioned off for charity.)

I’m giving you this background information because Varmus introduced my talk at KentPresents, and I think did some research on me before confecting that introduction. That, apparently, involved perusing this website, where Varmus discovered my ailurophilia. He told me that he himself had been the staff for two cats: a recently-deceased Maine Coon and a young English shorthair. I requested pictures of his latest cat, and Varmus obliged.

Since I put up pictures of cats whose staff are famous people with whom I have some contact (viz., Mark Ptashne, Joyce Carol Oates, and Richard Posner), meet Phoebe: the cat serviced by Harold Varmus and presumably his wife Constance. I was told, as I recall, that she (Phoebe, not Constance) was an English shorthair, but her hair doesn’t look that short!

I asked for further information on Phoebe but it hasn’t yet appeared, so here she is:


  1. Posted August 20, 2018 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    That is a beautiful cat.

  2. Claudia Baker
    Posted August 20, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    She is gorgeous!

  3. eric
    Posted August 20, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow what a cutie!

  4. Mike
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    She’s gorgeous.

  5. Posted August 21, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Yes indeed a beautiful cat! Has some kind of Tabby gene’s in there hence the stripes. Could be Part British Short hair! The apparent look of not necessarily very long hairs, but hair density making the fur appear longer! Just sayin’ grabbing for straws! LOL!

  6. Posted October 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Very cute cat, it must be a pleasure for Dr. Varmus to serve her!

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