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Watson, James

Born: 1928 AD
Died: 0000 AD
Nationality: American
Categories: Biochemist, Biologists

1928 – He was born on the 6th day of April this year in Chicago, Illinois, USA. At the age of 12, he starred on the Quiz Kids, a popular radio show that challenged precocious youngsters to answer questions. Thanks to the liberal policy of Robert Hutchins, he enrolled at the age of 15 at the University of Chicago.


1946 – He changed his direction from ornithology to genetics. He earned his B.Sc. in Zoology in 1947.


1948 – Watson began his Ph.D. research in Luria’s laboratory at Indiana University and that spring he has to meet Delbrück in Luria’s apartment and again that summer during Watson’s first trip to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL).


1949 – He took a course with Felix Haurowitz that included the conventional view of that time: that proteins were genes and able to replicate themselves.


1950 – He gained his Ph.D. in Zoology at Indiana University in this year. He then went to Europe for postdoctoral research, first heading to the laboratory of biochemist Herman Kalckar in Copenhagen who was interested in nucleic acids and had developed an interest in phage as an experimental system.


1951 – The chemist Linus Pauling published his model of the protein alpha helix, a result that grew out of Pauling’s relentless efforts in X-ray crystallography and molecular model building. Watson now had the desire to learn to perform X-ray diffraction experiments so that he could work to determine the structure of DNA.


1952 – Crick and Watson had been asked not to work on making molecular models of the structure of DNA. Instead, Watson’s official assignment was to perform X-ray diffraction experiments on tobacco mosaic virus. Tobacco mosaic virus was the first virus to be identified (1886) and purified (1935).


1953 – Crick and Watson were given permission by their lab director and Wilkins to try to make a structural model of DNA.


1962 – For their efforts, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in this year for their research on the structure of nucleic acids


1968 – Watson wrote The Double Helix, one of the Modern Library’s 100 best non-fiction books. The account is the sometimes-painful story of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding their work. Also in this year, he became the director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and in 1974 made the CSHL his permanent residence.


1988 – His achievement and success led to his appointment as the Head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health, a position he held until 1992. Watson left the Genome Project after conflicts with the new NIH Director, Bernadine Healy.


1992 – He left within weeks of the 1992 announcement that the NIH would be applying for patents on brain-specific cDNAs.


1994 – He became president of the CSHL for ten years. Dr. Francis Collins took over the role as Director of the Human Genome Project. Currently, Watson gives public speeches and serves as chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor.


2007 – In January of this year, Dr. Watson accepted the invitation of Leonor Beleza, president of the Champalimaud Foundation, to become the head of the foundation’s scientific council, an advisory organ. He will be in charge of selecting the remaining council members.