James Watson
(1928-present)

Aged 90

James Dewey Watson (born April 6, 1928) is an American molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist, best known as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA in 1953 with Francis Crick. 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". Watson earned degrees at the University of Chicago (B.S., 1947) and Indiana University (Ph.D., 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. Watson has written many science books, including the textbook Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965) and his bestselling book The Double Helix (1968). The latter is about the DNA structure discovery, reissued in a new edition in 2012 – The Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix edited by Alex Gann and Jan Witkowski.

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Commemorated on 4 plaques

DNA Double Helix 1953 'The secret of life'. For decades the Eagle was the local pub for scientists from the nearby Cavendish Laboratory. It was here on February 28th 1953 that Francis Crick and James Watson first announced their discovery of how DNA carries genetic information. Unveiled by James Watson 25th April 2003

The Eagle Public House, 8 Benet Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom where they made an announcement

The structure of DNA was determined here in 1953 by James Watson & Francis Crick

Old Cavendish Laboratory, Free School Lane, Cambridge, United Kingdom where they worked

James D. Watson, DNA scientist. Lived here 1983-1992

18 Vincent Square, London, United Kingdom where they lived (1983-1992)

In these rooms from 1955 to 1976 James D. Watson pioneered in the revolution of molecular biology.... planned the rejuvenation of the Cold Spring Harbor Lab under which he subsequently became director [full inscription unknown]

Harvard’s Biological Laboratories, Cambridge, MA, United States where they worked (1955-1976)