J. Michael Bishop

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J. Michael Bishop
Nci-vol-8172-300 j michael bishop.jpg
J. Michael Bishop
Born John Michael Bishop
(1936-02-22) February 22, 1936 (age 82)
York, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard University
Known for Oncogene Virus
Scientific career
Fields Virology
Website profiles.ucsf.edu/j.michael.bishop

John Michael Bishop (born February 22, 1936) is an American immunologist and microbiologist who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Harold E. Varmus and was co-winner of 1984 Alfred P. Sloan Prize.[2] He serves as an active faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he also served as Chancellor from 1998 to 2009.[3][4][5][6][7]

Education and early life[edit]

Bishop was born in Pennsylvania. He attended Gettysburg College as an undergraduate, where he was a brother of the Theta-Pi Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. He later attended Harvard University where he earned an MD in 1962.[citation needed]


Bishop began his career working for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health. He then spent a year working for the Heinrich Pette Institute in Hamburg, Germany before joining the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco in 1968.[4] Bishop has remained on the school's faculty since 1968, and was chancellor of the university from 1998-2009.[6] He is Director of the Bishop Lab.[8]

He became the eighth Chancellor of UCSF in 1998. He oversaw one of UCSF's major transition and growth periods, including the expanding Mission Bay development and philanthropic support recruitment. During his tenure, he unveiled the first comprehensive, campus-wide, strategic plan to promote diversity and foster a supportive work environment. During this time, UCSF also adopted a new mission: advancing health worldwide™.[9]


Much of this work was conducted jointly with Harold Varmus in a notably long scientific partnership. Their best-known accomplishment[10] was the identification of a cellular gene (c-src) that gave rise to the v-src oncogene of Rous Sarcoma Virus, a cancer-causing virus first isolated from a chicken sarcoma by Peyton Rous in 1910. Their discovery triggered the identification of many other cellular proto-oncogenes—progenitors of viral oncogenes and targets for mutations that drive human cancers.

Awards and honors[edit]

Bishop is best known for his Nobel-winning work on retroviral oncogenes. Working with Harold E. Varmus in the 1980s, he discovered the first human oncogene, c-Src. Their findings allowed the understanding of how malignant tumors are formed from changes to the normal genes of a cell. These changes can be produced by viruses, by radiation, or by exposure to some chemicals.[5][11][12][13]

Bishop is also a recipient of National Medal of Science in 2003.[7] That same year, his book "How to win the Nobel Prize: An Unexpected Life in Science" was published. He was elected Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 2008.[1]

Archival Collections[edit]

The University of California, San Francisco Archives and Special Collections houses a collection of J. Michael Bishop papers, including his laboratory research notebooks, writings, photographs, and other material.[14]


Preceded by
Ursula Goodenough
ASCB Presidents
Succeeded by
Mina Bissell