The Path from Bacteria, to virus to DNA structure and jump to racism
Lab suspends DNA pioneer Watson
The Nobel Prize-winning DNA pioneer James Watson has been suspended by his research institution in the US.
Dr Watson has drawn severe criticism over remarks he made in a British newspaper at the weekend.
In the interview, he was quoted as saying Africans were less intelligent than Europeans.
The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory had already distanced itself from the scientist's comments but its trustee board has now suspended him.
A statement from the Long Island, New York, institution said the action was being taken "pending further deliberation by the board".
Dr Watson was due to give a lecture at the Science Museum in London on Friday as part of a book tour. But the museum cancelled the event, saying the scientist had gone beyond the point of acceptable debate.
The Bristol Festival of Ideas has also cancelled an appearance by Dr Watson.
And further critical comment of Dr Watson's views has come from Dr Craig Venter, the scientist/businessman who led the private effort to decode the human genome, and who, by coincidence, is also visiting the UK to promote a book.
"Skin colour as a surrogate for race is a social concept not a scientific one," Dr Venter said. "There is no basis in scientific fact or in the human genetic code for the notion that skin colour will be predictive of intelligence."
Dr Watson helped unravel the structure of DNA
In his Sunday Times interview, Dr Watson was quoted as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really".
He was further quoted as saying that his hope was that everyone was equal but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".
The scientist has since said that the way the words were presented did not reflect properly his position.
"I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways they have," he said.
"To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologise unreservedly.
"That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."
And in comments published in The Independent newspaper on Friday, Dr Watson tries to clarify his position.
"We do not yet adequately understand the way in which the different environments in the world have selected over time the genes which determine our capacity to do different things," he is quoted as saying. "The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity.
"It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science. To question this is not to give in to racism. This is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, it is about seeking to understand differences, about why some of us are great musicians and others great engineers."
Dr Watson was a joint winner in 1962 of the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, the molecule that lies at the heart of heredity in living organisms.
When, some 40 years later, Dr Venter and colleagues were finally able to read all of the DNA in our cells, they concluded the concept of race could not easily be described by our genetics.
Venter and his team pointed to the fact that people from different racial groups could be more genetically similar than individuals within the same group. Genetic studies show that there is more variability in the gene pool in Africa, than outside.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/10/19 10:41:55 GMT
Can Scientific Ahievement give one the license to denigrate others with out evidence
© BBC MMVII
Nobel Prize Organization
James Watson the man who turned to churn out Racist Comments and his biography!
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962
The Only Son Synderome begins an early life that ends in shame!
James Dewey Watson was born in Chicago, Ill., on April 6th, 1928, as the only son of James D. Watson, a businessman, and Jean Mitchell.
His father's ancestors were originally of English descent and had lived in
the midwest for several generations.
Sctos Clasmen Ancestry. May be the KKK and Clansmen had great influce!
His mother's father was a Scottish-born taylor married to a daughter of Irish immigrants who arrived in the United States about 1840.
Segregated early life in ChChicago.
Young Watson's entire boyhood was spent in Chicago where he attended for eight years
Horace Mann Grammar School and for two years South Shore High School. He then received a tuition scholarship to the University of Chicago, and in the summer of 1943 entered their experimental four-year college.
Chosing birds and animals to humans as a calling.
In 1947, he received a B.Sc. degree in Zoology. During these years his boyhood interest in bird-watching had matured into a serious desire to learn genetics. This
became possible when he received a Fellowship for graduate study in Zoology at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he received his Ph.D. degree in
Zoology in 1950.
Italian microbioligist influence.
At Indiana, he was deeply influenced both by the geneticists H. J. Muller and T. M.
Sonneborn, and by S. E. Luria, the Italian-born microbiologist then on the staff of Indiana's Bacteriology Department.
Effects if Radiation on bacteria? Effects of slavery on intelligence?
Watson's Ph.D. thesis, done under Luria's able guidance, was a study of the effect
of hard X-rays on bacteriophage multiplication.
The fate of DNA on infecting viruses? No human genome study so far!
From September 1950 to September 1951 he spent his first postdoctoral year in Copenhagen as a Merck Fellow of the National Research Council. Part of the
year was spent with the biochemist Herman Kalckar, the remainder with the microbiologist Ole Maaløe. Again he worked with bacterial viruses, attempting to study the fate of DNA of infecting virus particles.
Meeting - The real Noble genius! Wilkins
During the spring of 1951, he went with Kalckar to the Zoological Station at Naples. There at a Symposium, late in May,he met Maurice Wilkins and saw for the first time the X-ray diffraction pattern of crystalline DNA.
Cavendish lab and working with real creative brains!
This greatly stimulated him to change the direction of his
research toward the structural chemistry of nucleic acids and proteins. Fortunately this proved possible when Luria, in early August 1951, arranged with John
Kendrew for him to work at the Cavendish Laboratory, where he started work in early October 1951.
DNA structure interest of Crick? So far no human genome interest!
He soon met Crick and discovered their common interest in solving the DNA structure. They thought it should be possible to correctly guess its structure, given
both the experimental evidence at King's College plus careful examination of the possible stereochemical configurations of polynucleotide chains.
Their first serious effort, in the late fall of 1951, was unsatisfactory.
Their second effort based upon more experimental evidence and better appreciation of the nucleic acid literature, resulted, early in March 1953, in the proposal of the complementary double-helical configuration.
Rotating Anode X-raby tube opens new opportunity!
At the same time, he was experimentally investigating the structure of TMV, using X-ray diffraction techniques. His object was to see if its chemical sub-units, earlier revealed by the elegant experiments of Schramm, were helically arranged. This objective was achieved in late June 1952, when use of the Cavendish's newly constructed rotating anode X-ray tubes allowed an unambiguous demonstration of the
helical construction of the virus.
X-ray Diffraction studies of RNA interests! no human genome yet!
From 1953 to 1955, Watson was at the California Institute of Technology as Senior Research Fellow in Biology. There he collaborated with Alexander Rich in
X-ray diffraction studies of RNA.
Back to Virus studies?
In 1955-1956 he was back in the Cavendish, again working with Crick. During this visit they published several papers on the general principles of virus construction.
Role of RNA in protein synthesis! No human intelligence geonome yet?
Since the fall of 1956, he has been a member of the Harvard Biology Department, first as Assistant Professor, then in 1958 as an Associate Professor, and
as Professor since 1961. During this interval, his major research interest has been the role of RNA in protein synthesis.
Introduction to molecular biology! No human genome yet?
Among his collaborators during this period were the Swiss biochemist Alfred Tissières and the French biochemist François Gros. Much experimental evidence supporting the messenger RNA concept was accumulated. His present principal collaborator is the theoretical physicist Walter Gilbert who, as Watson
expressed it, «has recently learned the excitement of experimental molecular biology».
A Series of recognition and awards and prestige! the beginning of his follies!
The honours that have to come to Watson include: the John Collins Warren Prize of the Massachusetts General Hospital, with Crick in 1959; the Eli Lilly Award in
Biochemistry in the same year; the Lasker Award, with Crick and Wilkins in 1960; the Research Corporation Prize, with Crick in 1962; membership of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and Foreign membership of the Danish Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a consultant
to the President's Scientific Advisory Committee.
No interest in humans, even marriage! Bird watching not human wathcing yet!
Watson is unmarried. His recreations are bird-watching and walking.
From Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1942-1962,Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1964
This autobiography/biography was first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this
document, always state the source as shown above.
For more updated biographical information, see:Watson, J.D., The Double Helix. Atheneum, New York,1968.
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1962