It is all but official that Harold Varmus will assume the topspot at the National Institutes of Health. Although PresidentClinton had not approved Varmus by press time on Friday,Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala has givenher approval, D.A. Henderson, deputy assistant secretary forScience and Health at the Department of Health and HumanServices, told BioWorld on Friday.

"We are expecting an announcement fairly soon, but we'd liketo have it as soon as possible," Henderson said.

"We are all very impressed with him," Henderson added. "Hehas been exceedingly productive, and he has played a veryactive role in policy formation. ... He is regarded as being veryinsightful, very broad-gauged.

"He brings to (NIH) an ability to look across disciplines, to lookat where our biomedical enterprise should be going over thelonger term, and what the balance should be between basicresearch and other initiative that the NIH funds," saidHenderson. Varmus will also know "when we have pretty wellmined a particular area and we ought to be cutting back."

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.