J. Michael Bishop moves to San Francisco. Here he is appointed Assistant Professor of microbiology and immunology at University of California. He works in virology with Leon Levintow, who has joined the UCSF faculty two years earlier. Bishop becomes a Full Professor in 1972. In the mid-1980s he also becomes director of the Program in Biological Sciences (PIBS), a pathbreaking interdisciplinary program in graduate education.
J. Michael Bishop is elected Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco.
J. Michael Bishop begins to study retroviruses and uses reverse transcriptase to explore viral DNA. In 1970, Harold E. Varmus joins Bishop as a postdoctoral Fellow. Together they identify and clarify the process of how Rous Sarcoma Virus transforms normal cellular genes (proto-oncogenes) into cancer genes (oncogenes). In the 1980s, they discover c-Src, the first human oncogene. Their findings allow understanding how malignant tumors are formed from changes to the normal genes of a cell.
J. Michael Bishop receives one half of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Harold E. Varmus "for their discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes". Their combined efforts have produced the discovery that growth regulating genes in normal cells can malfunction and initiate the abnormal growth processes of cancer.
J. Michael Bishop enters an interregnum of two years as a house physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he receives a prestigious training. There he learns at a profit of medicine, society and himself.
J. Michael Bishop attends Gettysburg College intent on preparing for medical school but every new subject excites him and he often changes ideas about his future career. He concludes his major in chemistry with diffidence but with academic laurels. During his college he meets the girl who will later become his wife; he is also a brother of the Theta-Pi Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha International Fraternity.
J. Michael Bishop is born in York, Pennsylvania. He spends his childhood in a rural area. His father is a Lutheran minister, tending to two small parishes. Bishop develops soon a passion for music through piano, organ and vocal lessons. Dr. Robert Kough, the family’s physician, arises in Bishop an interest not only in the life of a physician but also in the fundaments of human biology.
Bishop attends Harvard Medical School. Benjamin Castleman offers him a year of independent study in his department at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and Edgar Taft - of that department- takes him into his research laboratory. There Bishop becomes a practiced pathologist. He develops also a new passion: molecular biology. Bishop studies animal virology under the guidance of Elmer Pfefferkorn from whom learns the inebriation of research, the practice of rigor, and the art of disappointment.
J. Michael Bishop moves to Hamburg to join Heinrich Pette Institute, where he works at the laboratory but without any particular success. By the end of his stay, Bishop receives two offers: one from a prestigious university on the East coast of the United States, the other from Levintow and his departmental chairman, Ernest Jawetz, at UCSF. He opts for San Francisco.
J. Michael Bishop is appointed postdoctoral Fellow in the Research Associate Training Program at the National Institutes of Health. His mentor is Leon Levintow and his subject is the replication of the poliovirus. In these years Bishop publishes his first research. Levintow leaves for the University of California. In his stead comes Gebhard Koch, who invites Bishop to go to Hamburg for a year.