James D. Watson

Molecular Biologist

James D. Watson is an American molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist, best known as one of the 1953 discoverers, together with Francis Crick, of the structure of DNA.

Dr. Watson, Francis 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.

In 1956, Dr. Watson became a member of Harvard University's Biological Laboratories, promoting research in molecular biology. He held this position until 1976. Between 1988 and 1992, Dr. Watson was associated with the National Institutes of Health, helping to establish the Human Genome Project.

Dr. Watson has written many science books, including the textbook, The Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965), and his bestselling book, The Double Helix (1968), about the DNA structure discovery.

From 1968 he served as director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) on Long Island, New York, greatly expanding its level of funding and research. At CSHL, he shifted his research emphasis to the study of cancer. Dr. Watson became president of CSHL in 1994 and served for ten years. Following that, he was appointed chancellor, serving until 2007.