James Watson (1766) Biography

James Watson (1766) Biography

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James Watson was born in Scotland in 1766. Little is known of his early life but it is believed that he had medical training in Edinburgh. As a young man Watson moved to London where he worked as a apothecary. At this time Watson developed radical political views and became a follower of Thomas Spence.

After the death of Spence in 1814 James Watson and Arthur Thistlewood helped form the Society of Spencean Philanthropists. The government became very concerned about this group that they employed a spy, John Castle, to join the Spenceans and report on their activities. In October 1816 Castle reported to John Stafford, supervisor of Home Office spies, that Watson and a small group of Spenceans were planning to overthrow the British government.

On 2nd December 1816 the Spencean group organised a mass meeting at Spa Fields, Islington. The speakers at the meeting included Henry 'Orator' Hunt and James Watson. The magistrates decided to disperse the meeting and while Stafford and eighty police officers were doing this, one of the men, Joseph Rhodes was stabbed. The four leaders of the Spenceans, James Watson, Arthur Thistlewood, Thomas Preston and John Hopper were arrested and charged with high treason.

James Watson was the first to be tried. However, the main prosecution witness was the government spy, John Castle. The defence council was able to show that John Castle had a criminal record and that his testimony was unreliable. The jury concluded that Castle was an agent provocateur (a person employed to incite suspected people to some open action that will make them liable to punishment) and refused to convict Watson. As the case against Watson had failed, it was decided to release the other three men who were due to be tried for the same offence.

The Spenceans continued to meet in 1817. Arthur Thistlewood was still convinced a successful violent revolution was still possible. James Watson now doubted the wisdom of this strategy and although he still attended meetings, he gradually lost control of the group to the more militant ideas of Thistlewood.

In 1818 James Watson proposed a plan to develop a parliament for non-represented people. He wrote pamphlets about his ideas and they were distributed throughout the industrial areas of Britain. Watson urged the formation of Unions of Non-Represented People and by November 1818, he was claiming that forty-four of these groups had been established. Watson hoped that members would pay a penny-per-week subscription to pay for the distribution of leaflets. This failed to materialise and in December 1818 Watson was imprisoned for debt.

James Watson was released in 1819 and after the Peterloo Massacre there was a renewed interest in Watson's political ideas. However, he was unable to finance the organisation and he was once again imprisoned for debt. He was still in prison when Arthur Thistlewood and other members of the Spenceans were arrested and executed for their part in the Cato Street Conspiracy.

After his release from prison Watson emigrated to the United States where he lived until his death as a pauper in New York City on 12th February 1838.

James Forten (1766-1842)

James Forten was born free on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents were Thomas and Sarah Forten. He was also the grandson of slaves. His formative years were spent in Philadelphia, and he attended Anthony Benezet’s Quaker school for African American children. By the time he turned eight years old, he was working for Robert Bridges’s sail loft. This is where his father worked as well. The following year, his father was the victim of an unfortunate boating accident and died. This tragedy resulted in nine-year-old James having to take on additional work to support his family.

Over time, James Forten became interested in politics and avidly campaigned for and supported temperance, women’s suffrage, and equal rights for African Americans. In 1800, he was the leader in organizing a petition that called for Congress to emancipate all slaves. Given the fact that this was a presidential election year, rumor had it that a few of the presidential candidates (among them Thomas Jefferson) were none too pleased with a black man advocating for the emancipation of slaves. His activism was further recognized when he wrote and published a pamphlet denouncing the Pennsylvania legislature for prohibiting the immigration of freed black slaves from other states.

During his early teens, he worked as a powder boy during the Revolutionary War on the Royal Lewis sailing ship. After being captured by the British army, he was released and returned home to resume his previous job. Pleased with his work and dedication, he was appointed to the foreman’s position in the loft. By 1798, Bridges decided to retire and wanted Forten to remain in charge of the loft. Eventually James Forten owned the business and employed almost forty workers.

In 1817, Forten joined with Richard Allen, the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, to form the Convention of Color. Interestingly, the organization argued for the migration of free black slaves to Canada, but vehemently resisted any movement for a return to the African continent. Other prominent men who joined Forten and Allen were William Wells Brown, Samuel Eli Cornish, and Henry Highland Garnet.

James Forten died on March 4, 1842. His early years had been devoted to providing for his widowed mother, his middle years towards acquiring a vast economic fortune and rectifying the brutal injustices that had been perpetrated upon his fellow African Americans, poor people, and women.


James J. Watson began Watson Inc. under the name Watson Flour Company in July 1939, in space rented at 30-30 Northern Blvd., Long Island City, New York. The company did not mill flour but its primary product was manufacturing donut mixes which the industry then referred to as “donut flours.” At about this time, the attack on Pearl Harbor caused our country to enter World War II and the government established the Office of Price Administration (OPA). In addition to freezing the selling prices of all manufactured products, the OPA started rationing. Most important for the very young Watson Flour, sugar and shortening – major ingredients in donut flours – were rationed. The rationed amount of these two ingredients was established as a percentage of the purchased amount in the year 1939. Needless to say, our allocation was very small, and with selling prices frozen as of 1939 Watson Flour had to make other products such as cake mixes, muffin mixes, and bread improvers.

Robert Watson joined his father James in the business in 1939. Robert, like his father, had baking experience and was able to contribute to the formulation of many products. Unfortunately, as the war continued and more soldiers were needed, Robert was drafted into the army and served in the European theater. James Watson struggled to keep his young business going.

In 1946, the war is over, James and his son Robert decided that they needed to build a factory of their own to better serve their needs. They chose a site in Woodside, Long Island, and built a factory of 13,800 square feet. John J. Watson joined his father and brother in the business in 1951. Then in 1952, the government called John Watson to serve in the Korean War until September 1954. Following this date, he rejoined the company.

During the next few years, Watson Flour acquired the Flour Enrichment Products Company from Roy Dodson. This gave Watson Flour a focus on nutritional products. At about the same time Watson Flour began, with the cooperation of the Dow Chemical Company, to develop the first water-soluble edible packaging film for packaging bakery additives, and vitamins and minerals premixes. The Charles Pfizer Company saw the latter concept in 1958 and asked Watson Flour to make these products for them. In 1963, when Pfizer made the decision to turn their attention in other directions, Watson Flour was able to buy this division from them and thus obtain a substantial position in nutritional additives for the food industry. In 1964, because Dow no longer made the edible film, a manufacturing facility was purchased in Rockville, Connecticut for this purpose.

In 1982, Watson purchased Nopa Laboratories (a small pharmaceutical firm in Pana, Illinois) and the enrichment business of the Stauffer Chemical Company, which had previously been purchased from Merck & Company Sterwin Chemical (Sterwin Winthrop Drug Company). In 1983, the third generation of the Watson family joined the company in the person of James Thomas Watson.

In 1986, the Watson Foods Company closed down its Woodside plant and relocated to a seven-acre site in West Haven, Connecticut. This is now the location of Watson’s main manufacturing facility, with manufacturing totaling 85,000 square feet and a 50,000 square foot warehouse. Pursuing its nutritional plan further in 1992, Watson purchased Dufar’s nutritional premix division for the food industry and for US AID emergency relief programs. Watson Foods moved its Illinois production facility from Pana, Illinois to a 66,000 square foot building in Taylorville, Illinois. In 1992, Watson Foods closed its Rockville film manufacturing plant and moved it into the West Haven facility.

Today, the company is run by the third generation: James, Gavin, Mary, and Moira with 220,000 square feet of buildings and over 330 employees. To reflect our diversified product line, we have changed our name to Watson Inc.

James Watson (1766) Biography - History

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And so he thought, “If I take the money that they offer me to write an autobiography, and pay somebody to write my biography, then I get it all done.” So he called me, knowing that he was already very sick. And he called me late 1980, December, and I agreed to visit him, I came in February 81, and in march 81 he died, and while I was visiting him in California I agreed that I should make all efforts to write his book, and he had written a nice letter, saying that he wants me to write his biography, and when he died I could take this letter and send it to some funding institutions and they gave me a scholarship to write Max Delbruck’s biography, I was supported very much by the family, Manny Delbruck, she bought me a computer, which at this time was still a very clumsy thing, but nevertheless you could start writing a book, write a text in the computer with wordstyle as the first program was called. And so all the sudden I was changing my life, I left the bench science, I was no longer doing experimental work in biophysics, what I was doing at the University of Kostanz, but all of the sudden I started to write biography of Max Delbruck, I finished this, this book was published, actually in two different versions which is very strange, because I was writing this more for Manny Delbruck than for anyone else, and she could not really read German very well, I decided to write it in English, but of course, it turned out to be broken English. So I had 500 pages of broken English, and I handed this to a professor of English, Carol Lipson, the wife of a colleague of mine at Caltech, a post doc of Max’s. so Carol Lipson converted my broken English version to a literary English version and this book was published in English, thinking about science, and I took my broken English version and translated it into German, so there are two different versions of Max Delbruck’s biography, the German version which of course emphasizes more aspects that are important for the Germans, like what he did at the University of Kostanz, how he switched when he was a young boy from high school to university, and the American version stresses more certain scientific aspects like making jokes with the genetic code that don’t translate very well into English.

Ernst Peter Fischer, Professor of the History of Science at the University of Constance since 1994. He studied mathematics and physics in Cologne and biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He earned Ph.D. in biology and qualified as a professor in the history of science.

He has published biographies of Max Delbrück, Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli and James D. Watson and received several awards for his scientific publications. Fischer is an author of such books as "Die andere Bildung", "Selling science - The history of Boehringer Mannheim" and "Das Genom" - an introduction into modern genome research.

He has been honoured with the Heinrich-Bechold-Medaille (1980), Preis der wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft Freiburg (1981) Lorenz-Oken-Medaille (2002), Treviranus-Medaille (2003) and Eduard-Rhein-Kulturpreis (2003).

James Watson and the Insidiousness of Scientific Racism

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Molecular biologist James Watson, together with Francis Crick, won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA. Bettmann/Getty Images

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Scientific pedigrees are like any genealogical tree: When shaken, they can reveal family secrets. Most often, academic connections are divulged informally potential employers want to know who you published with and who they can call to get a personal reference. But sometimes they reveal much more.

C. Brandon Ogbunu is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University and a computational biologist interested in disease.

My career began as a research assistant in the laboratory of Susan Gottesman at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. A pioneering microbiologist, Gottesman is best known for her foundational work in bacterial gene regulation. Early in her own career, however, Gottesman was an undergraduate research assistant in the lab of James Watson, the famed co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA. In effect—through his direct connection to Gottesman and because Watson’s work helped establish my fields of study—James Watson can be considered my academic ancestor.

While Watson has always been a curious character, it wasn’t until 2007 that his personality caught up to his mythology. That year he made comments about, among other things, the dim prospects for the continent of Africa and its descendants, a fate he attributed to inferior intelligence. Shortly afterwards, he issued an apology, telling the Associated Press, “There is no scientific basis for such a belief." But earlier this month, he doubled down on this sentiment during the PBS documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson. His comments led Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the renowned research institution that Watson has been long associated with, to strip him of his honorary titles.

That one person separates me, an African-American computational biologist, from James Watson—Nobel Laureate and mouthpiece of racist opinions—presents a quandary. For years, I have reveled in the powers of DNA, yet one of the people most associated with its discovery has made abhorrent comments about my race. The dilemma raises several questions: How does it feel to be a black scientist who owes much to James Watson in general, and in my case, is linked to his specific pedigree? Is it much ado about nothing, or might the black scientist occupy a special place in modern conversations about scientific racism?

Ironically, I was introduced to the scientific legacy of James Watson by my mother, an African-American woman raised in west Baltimore in the 1940s and ’50s, the granddaughter of a woman born in North Carolina near the time of emancipation. That my mother would have been a scientist under different circumstances is a good guess, and I inherited her love of mathematics and adoration for scientists. Her copy of Watson’s The Double Helix shared the same bookshelf with the works of James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. She spoke glowingly of the DNA structure discovery and emphasized that teamwork and perseverance can solve some of the world’s biggest problems. I mostly listened. I applied that belief to my graduate work in evolutionary biology, a field that was transformed by genomics (an outcome that Watson predicted with impressive prescience).

James Watson is a DNA enthusiast. Not only is this stance understandable, it isn’t controversial, and many people who are not scientific racists are also DNA enthusiasts. (I might even be described as such.) The question of whether the biological basis of complex life is about genes or the environment is partly an empirical one. And (spoiler alert) thus far we know that genes can authoritatively craft the raw material of many morphological, behavioral, and disease-associated traits. Other explanations for the basis of life are at least as eminent, and not necessarily in conflict with the centrality of DNA—history, context, and environment turn the knobs on how genes are built, how they do their job, and how traits manifest in a dynamic world.

These are fascinating and important questions that James Watson might be interested in. The problem is that his controversial claims about black people do not grapple with those questions. Watson is not in the news for being interested in the genes associated with educational attainment. He is not radioactive for suggesting that the color you paint your toddler’s bedroom won’t make them more creative adults. Watson was stripped of his titles not for talking about group differences but because his comments displayed a reckless misuse of science.

The furor over Watson has spawned a reactionary backlash. His critics have raised rhetorical questions of whether what James Watson says actually matters to anyone. Others have suggested that he’s been treated unfairly, hinting that the fuss is just virtue signaling, the illiberal left at it again. But they all miss the mark.

Yes, the racist comments hurt people. Yes, they affect the way many of us see ourselves and interact with our peers. And yes, this even applies to those of us who have been called “exceptional,” usually because we’ve existed in professions with few other black bodies.

Black exceptionalism is a popular and complicated idea. It asserts that a monolithic “average” black identity exists, and that by transcending this average, one is exceptional. While the idea isn’t welded to black achievement, it is related. Successful members of the black community who somehow avoided the regression to the (black) mean are presented as paragons, exceptional ones of their kind. There are backhanded compliments, and then there is black exceptionalism—a racist idea lightly dressed in a pat-on-the-back.

Some of us, in a naïve or perfunctory manner, wear black exceptionalism as a badge of honor, even under the guise of progress: “I will show them what we are capable of.” Good intentions be damned, because to adopt this stance is to walk directly into a pernicious trap. The most effective racist ideas rarely deny the existence of exceptional members of the out-group to which undesirable features are attributed.

On the contrary, the most destructive ideas embrace high-performing members for statistical cover. In order to argue that the mean performance of an out-group is lower for a desirable trait, there should be some high performers. High-performing black people are essential for racism like James Watson’s, and even he might predict a statistical and genetic exceptional negro, because they can’t all be incompetent.

The problem with this argument isn’t only that it avoids critical discussions about the possible sources of group differences, but also that it uses the notion of the exceptional individual to justify racist ideas towards others in the out-group. In general, armchair appeals to statistics often conceal negative feelings that people already have, attitudes forged in the fires of fear and bias, not science.

In the end, the privilege of working in areas where one's genetic ancestors were historically unwelcome is the product of centuries of sacrifices that built a stage for our genes to act on. Many of us have observed analogous examples within our own lives: friends who were smarter than we are but went to the wrong school or were derailed by family trauma. Neighbors who put their love of algebra aside, opting to focus on the sprinter speed that they felt more valued for. Bright young women openly discouraged from pursuing higher education. This isn’t hyperbolic, storytelling fluff. These are actual lives. And they define the environments in which our genes, whatever their composition, are expressed.

In reflecting on scientific racism this way, being black and an academic descendent of James Watson leads me to a new, radical conclusion: Black scientists are in the best position to understand what is so broken about the ideas of Watson and his army. We exist because our environments gave us, and not our ancestors, the opportunity to flourish. And while history has provided enough data to support this point, we can punctuate it with a poignant thought experiment.

Imagine an alternate reality in which James Watson was identical except for possessing physical traits associated with being phenotypically black. In this world, Watson—with equal talent, but raised black in Chicago in the 1930s—would almost certainly have read about Linus Pauling’s or Rosalind Franklin’s eventual discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, and dreamed of a world that gave him the chance to do the same.

James Watson (1928-)

James Dewey Watson was born in Chicago. As a child, he was bright and inquisitive. One of his favorite words was "why?" and he wasn't satisfied with simple answers. He accumulated a lot of knowledge by reading the World Almanac, and won $100 as a "Quiz Kid" on a popular radio program. He used this money to buy binoculars for bird-watching ? a serious hobby for himself and his father.

Watson entered the University of Chicago at 15 under the gifted youngster program. He did well in courses that interested him, like biology and zoology, and not as well in other courses. He decided that he would go to graduate school and study to become the curator of ornithology at the Museum of Natural History.

In his senior year at Chicago, Watson read Erwin Schrödinger's book: What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. He was fascinated by the idea that genes and chromosomes hold the secrets of life. When Watson went to do a Ph.D. with Salvador Luria, a pioneer in bacteriophage research, at Indiana University, it seemed the perfect opportunity to work on some of these problems.

After his Ph.D. in 1950, Watson spent time in Europe, first in Copenhagen and then at the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge. By now, Watson knew that DNA was the key to understanding life and he was determined to solve its structure. He was lucky to share an office with Francis Crick, a Ph.D. student who was also interested in the structure of DNA. Although both were supposed to be working on other projects, in 1953, they built the first accurate model of DNA ? one of the great scientific advances of all time.

In 1962, Watson shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins who, with Rosalind Franklin, provided the data on which the structure was based. Watson wrote The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, which was published in 1968. This book was the first of its kind, being a gossipy account of the inner workings of the scientific world, and has never been out of print.

In 1956, Watson accepted a position in the Biology department at Harvard University where the focus of his research was RNA and its role in the transfer of genetic information. Although he continued to be a member of the Harvard faculty until 1976, Watson took over the directorship of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1968.

Watson has had a long association with Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Salvador Luria and Max Delbrück taught a popular summer course on phage genetics, and during his graduate days, Watson enjoyed this "summer camp" for scientists. Watson has made Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory one of the world's premier research facilities for cancer, neurobiology, and basic molecular genetics. Watson retired as the President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2004, and is now Chancellor Emeritus.

Watson has played a significant role in the development of science policy, from the War on Cancer, through the debates over the use of recombinant DNA, to promoting the Human Genome Project. From 1988 to 1992, he ran the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health while still directing Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

One of his major interests is education. His first textbook, Molecular Biology of the Gene, set new standards for biology textbooks, and it was followed by Molecular Biology of the Cell, and Recombinant DNA. He is actively exploring the avenue of multimedia education and the WWW through projects being developed at the DNA Learning Center, the educational arm of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He was and is one of the main motivators of this project, DNA from the Beginning.

Watson has been described by many as brilliant, outspoken and eccentric. He is energized by intelligent people and doesn't suffer fools. Watson is an avid tennis player and has been ever since his grad school days. He still tries to play tennis every day.

DNA was first crystallized in the late 70's &mdash remember, the 1953 X-ray data were from DNA fibers. So, the real "proof" for the Watson-Crick model of DNA came in 1982 after the B-form of DNA was crystallized and the X-ray pattern was solved.

If the DNA of one human cell is stretched out, it would be almost 6 feet long and contain over three billion base pairs. How does all this fit into the nucleus of one cell?

Ten fun facts about James Watson

Fact 1
James Watson was born on April 6, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois.

Fact 2
During his undergraduate years, James Watson was primarily interested in the field of ornithology. In 1947 he received a B.Sc. degree in Zoology. He began his doctoral research in 1948 under the direction of the Italian Biologist Salvador Luria.

Fact 3
In 1949 James Watson published one of the landmark papers in phage genetics. In 1950 his PhD thesis was a study of the effect of hard X-rays on bacteriophage multiplication.

Fact 4
He was awarded a National Research Council fellowship grant to investigate the molecular structure of proteins in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Fact 5
From 1951 to 1953 Watson held a research fellowship under the support of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England.

Fact 6
In 1955, James Watson moved on to Harvard University and taught biology till 1976 and conducted research alongside.

Fact 7
James Watson shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins in 1962.

Fact 8
In 1988 his success led to his appointment as the head of the Human Genome Project at the NIH.

Fact 9
James Watson spent most of his professional life as professor, research administrator and public policy spokesman for research.

Fact 10
He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the Danish Academy of Arts and Sciences.

James D. Watson, Ph.D.

James Dewey Watson was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He was a precocious student, and entered the University of Chicago when he was only 15. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology four years later, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in the same subject at Indiana University. He was engaged in research at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark when he first learned of the biomolecular research underway at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University in England. Watson joined Francis Crick in this work at Cambridge in 1951.

1953: James Watson and Francis Crick with their model of the double helix, the twisted-ladder structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the year of their momentous discovery. (Photo Credit: A. Barrington Brown. By permission of the Masters and Fellows of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge &ndash © Gonville & Caius College.)

Together, Watson and Crick attempted to determine the chemical structure of living matter. When their initial research failed to produce results, the directors of the laboratory ordered them to end their investigation, but they continued their work in secret and, on February 28, 1953, they made a momentous discovery.

James Watson, with a molecular model of DNA, at his office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1957. (Getty Images)

The two scientists had determined the structure of the molecule deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), of which all living matter is made. In June they published their findings in the British science journal Nature. The article created a sensation. The DNA molecule, Watson and Crick had found, is shaped like a double helix, or &ldquogently twisted ladder.&rdquo The two chains of the helix unlink &ldquolike a zipper,&rdquo and reproduce their missing halves. In this way, each molecule of DNA is able to create two identical copies of itself.

The 1962 Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm. The Nobel recipients, from left to right, are Maurice Wilkins, Max Perutz, Francis Crick, John Steinbeck, James Watson and John C. Kendrew. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

The initials DNA, and the elegant model of the double helix, became known around the world. So did Watson and Crick. Their discovery revolutionized the study of biology and genetics, making possible the recombinant DNA techniques used by today&rsquos biotechnology industry. James Watson became a Senior Research Fellow in Biology at the California Institute of Technology, before returning to Cambridge in 1955. The following year he moved to Harvard University, where he became Professor of Biology, a post he held until 1976.

(Left) Dr. James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA and the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, receives the Golden Plate Award from Dr. Sheldon L. Glashow, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, during the 1986 Banquet of the Golden Plate in Washington, D.C. (Center) Dr. James D. Watson addressing the Academy delegates at the 2014 Summit in San Francisco (Right) Dr. Francis C. H. Crick, recipient of the Nobel Prize and the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, receiving the American Academy of Achievement&rsquos Golden Plate Award from theoretical physicist Dr. Freeman J. Dyson during the 1987 Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremonies in Scottsdale.

In recognition of their discovery, Francis Crick and James Watson shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with Maurice Wilkins. In 1968 Watson published his account of the DNA discovery, The Double Helix. The book became an international bestseller, but some in the scientific community were scandalized by Watson&rsquos less-than-flattering portrayal of his own colleagues. Throughout the ensuing controversy, Watson insisted that devotion to the truth was as essential in writing for the general public as it is in scientific research.

Golden Plate Awards Council member General Colin L. Powell, USA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Dr. James D. Watson on the headtable at the American Academy of Achievement&rsquos 1991 Banquet of the Golden Plate.

In the same year, James Watson married the former Elizabeth Lewis. They have two sons: Rufus and Duncan. While continuing his duties at Harvard, James Watson became Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. At the time, this institution was in serious financial difficulty but, under Watson&rsquos vigorous leadership, it became financially sound and is now an international leader in genetic research. Scientists working under Watson at Cold Spring Harbor uncovered the molecular nature of cancer and identified cancer genes for the first time. Every year over 4,000 scientists from around the world come to Cold Spring Harbor to study the Institute&rsquos influence over international genetic research is profound.

Architect Philip Johnson with James Watson at the 1991 Summit of the Academy of Achievement in New York City.

In 1988, Watson accepted an invitation from the National Institute of Health to become Associate Director of the Human Genome Project. The following year, Watson became Director of the project and guided it skillfully through the storm of controversy surrounding genetic research. This undertaking has applied the kind of resources usually associated with military and aerospace research to creating a complete directory of the genetic code of the human species. To do this, researchers must determine the location, chemical composition and function of 50,000 to 100,000 separate genes. This will permit the development of tests, and possibly cures, for thousands of hereditary disorders or diseases which have some genetic component.

In 1993, James Watson and Francis Crick celebrated the 40th anniversary of their discovery at UNESCO. (Getty)

Watson left the Genome project in 1992, having seen it off to a successful start. He continued his work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory throughout this period, and in 1994 became President of that institution, and later served as its Chancellor.

Dr. James D. Watson in his laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor, New York. (© Ethan Hill/Contour by Getty Images)

Universities and governments around the world have honored James Watson with honorary degrees and decorations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Apart from his many scientific papers and the bestselling Double Helix, Watson&rsquos writings include:The DNA Story, Molecular Biology of the Gene, Molecular Biology of the Cell Recombinant DNA: A Short Course, and his 2003 memoir, Genes, Girls and Gamow.

James Watson with a model of the DNA Double molecule at a 2004 exhibition in Berlin, Monday, October 11, 2004.

Over the years, James Watson occasionally attracted controversy with his uninhibited remarks on a variety of topics. In 2007, he apologized publicly after an interview in which he speculated that Africa&rsquos progress might be hindered by genetic inheritance. He retracted the statement and regretted any offense caused by his remarks. Shortly thereafter, he retired as Chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and resigned from the Laboratory&rsquos Board of Directors, after 43 years of service. In his resignation statement, he offered the hope that genetic science would soon conquer cancer and mental illness. &ldquoFinal victory is within our grasp,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI wish to be among those at the victory line.&rdquo

James Watson

James Dewey Watson is an American geneticist and biophysicist. He is noted for his decisive work in the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA, the hereditary material associated with the transmission of genetic information. He shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins in 1962.

Early Life and Education:

James Watson was born on 6 April in 1928 in Chicago, Illinois. His father was a tax collector of Scottish ancestry. An only son, as a child he loved bird watching with his father.

He attended the University of Chicago, earning a degree in zoology in 1947. Watson was awarded a scholarship to Indiana University where he received his doctorate in 1950 for his work on the effects of X-ray radiation on replication of bacteriophage viruses.

Career Path:

Watson then moved to Copenhagen, continuing with his virus research. Watson became interested in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule and joined a research team at the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge with Francis Crick. Here, he made his famous discovery identifying the double helix structure of DNA.

He was appointed professor of biology at Harvard University in 1955, a position he held until 1976. His research at Harvard concentrated on RNA and its role in the transfer of genetic information.

He also became the director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York in 1968, a position that he held for 35 years. Watson is credited with turning the laboratory into a world center for research in molecular biology.

Watson focused his research at the laboratory in exploring molecular biology and genetics in order to advance the understanding and ability to diagnose and treat cancers, neurological diseases, and other causes of human suffering.

In 1990, Watson was appointed as the Head of the Human Genome Project, a position he held for two years.

He retired in 2007 from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the same year as his fully sequenced genome was published online.

Contributions and Achievements:

James Watson gained worldwide fame and prominence as the joint author of the four scientific papers between 1953 and 1954 (which he co-wrote with fellow scientist Francis Crick) that laid down the double helical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a megamolecule that is the fundamental substance in the process of genetic replication. This discovery won Watson and Crick (with Maurice Wilkins) the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1962.

During the 1960s, Watson became one of the most celebrated science writers, as he published his textbook “Molecular Biology of the Gene” in 1965 and his best-selling autobiographical book “The Double Helix” in 1968. Watson became the undisputed leading voice in the whole of American science. He epitomized the scientific creativity in 20th century science, giving rise to molecular biology and its two applied offsets biotechnology and the “Human Genome Project”.

Watson married Elizabeth Lewis in 1968 and they had two sons, Rufus and Duncan.

His autobiography, a candid and entertaining memoir, “Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science”, published in 2007, is also filled with practical advice for those starting out their academic careers.


In a very meaningful way, Watt's inventions powered the Industrial Revolution and innovations of the modern age, ranging from automobiles, trains, and steamboats, to factories, not to mention the social issues that evolved as a result. Today, Watt's name is attached to streets, museums, and schools. His story has inspired books, movies, and works of art, including statues in Piccadilly Gardens and St. Paul's Cathedral.

On the statue at St. Paul's are engraved the words: "James Watt … enlarged the resources of his country, increased the power of man, and rose to an eminent place among the most illustrious followers of science and the real benefactors of the world."

Watch the video: James Watson - Differences between men and women 7199 (May 2022).

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