Born: 6 April 1928
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Best known as: Co-discoverer of the structure of DNA
James Watson and fellow scientist Francis Crick were the first to describe the hidden double-helix structure of DNA molecules. They published their findings in the journal Nature in April of 1953; the discovery was considered tremendously significant, and in 1962 Watson and Crick and their collaborator Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. His account of his DNA discoveries with Crick, The Double Helix, was published in 1968. Watson was on the faculty of Harvard University for 21 years, from 1956-76, and was director of the National Center for Human Genome Research from 1989-92, after which he served as president and later as chancellor of Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory in New York. In later years he was known for controversial off-the-cuff remarks on various topics related to genetics and gender. He resigned as chancellor of Cold Springs Harbor in 2007 after causing an uproar by suggesting that people from Africa were genetically less intelligent than whites. His other books include DNA: The Secret of Life (2003) and Avoid Boring People (2007).
Extra credit: Watson entered the University of Chicago at age 15. He earned his bachelor's degree there in 1947... Watson and Crick were aided in their DNA discoveries by the work of Rosalind Franklin... James Watson should not be confused with John Watson, the sidekick of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
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