James Dewey Watson (born April 6, 1928) is an American molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist. In 1953, he co-authored with Francis Crick the academic paper proposing the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".MORE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Watson
Watson earned degrees at the University of Chicago (BS, 1947) and Indiana University (PhD, 1950). Following a post-doctoral year at the University of Copenhagen with Herman Kalckar and Ole Maaloe, later Watson worked at the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory in England, where he first met his future collaborator and friend Francis Crick.
From 1956 to 1976, Watson was on the faculty of the Harvard University Biology Department, promoting research in molecular biology. From 1968 he served as director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), greatly expanding its level of funding and research. At CSHL, he shifted his research emphasis to the study of cancer, along with making it a world leading research center in molecular biology. In 1994, he started as president and served for 10 years. He was then appointed chancellor, serving until he resigned in 2007 after making controversial comments claiming a link between intelligence and race. Between 1988 and 1992, Watson was associated with the National Institutes of Health, helping to establish the Human Genome Project.
In 2014, Watson decided to auction off his Nobel prize medal in view of his diminished income after the 2007 incident and to use part of the funds raised by the sale to support scientific research. The medal sold at auction at Christie's in December 2014 for US$4.1 million. Watson intended to contribute the proceeds to conservation work in Long Island and to funding research at Trinity College, Dublin, as well as the purchase of artwork. Watson is the first living Nobel recipient to auction the medal. The medal was subsequently returned to Watson by the purchaser, Uzbek tycoon Alisher Usmanov, who stated that Watson deserved the medal and that "a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognising his achievements is unacceptable."
Watson has written many science books, including the textbook Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965) and his bestselling book The Double Helix (1968).
In his memoir, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science, Watson describes his academic colleagues as "dinosaurs", "deadbeats", "fossils", "has-beens", "mediocre", and "vapid".
Watson has repeatedly asserted that differences in average measured IQ between blacks and whites are due to genetics. He first went public with his views in 2007, and reaffirmed them in 2018. He has said that stereotypes associated with racial and ethnic groups have a genetic basis: Jews being intelligent, Chinese being intelligent but not creative because of selection for conformity, and Indians being servile. In January 2019, following the broadcast of a television documentary in which Watson repeated his views about race and genetics, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory revoked honorary titles that it had awarded to him.
Statement by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory addressing remarks by Dr. James D. Watson in “American Masters: Decoding Watson”
Friday, 11 January 2019
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions Dr. James D. Watson expressed on the subject of ethnicity and genetics during the PBS documentary “American Masters: Decoding Watson” that aired January 2, 2019. Dr. Watson’s statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students. The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice.
When Dr. Watson expressed offensive views in 2007, CSHL’s Board of Trustees took immediate action to relieve him of all administrative duties at the Laboratory and terminated his status as Chancellor. Dr. Watson has not been involved in the leadership or management of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for more than a decade and he has no further roles or responsibilities at CSHL. In response to his most recent statements, which effectively reverse the written apology and retraction Dr. Watson made in 2007, the Laboratory has taken additional steps, including revoking his honorary titles of Chancellor Emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and Honorary Trustee.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory acknowledges and appreciates Dr. Watson’s substantial scientific legacy, including his role as founding director of the Human Genome Project and his critical leadership in the development of research and education at the Laboratory during his prior tenure as Director and President. Nonetheless, the statements he made in the documentary are completely and utterly incompatible with our mission, values, and policies, and require the severing of any remaining vestiges of his involvement.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory respects and upholds the rights, abilities, and potential of all human beings. With this commitment to respect and equality, CSHL will continue its mission to advance the frontiers of biology through research and education programs for the benefit of humanity.
Marilyn Simons Ph.D., Chair of the Board of Trustees
Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., President and CEO
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