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James Watson on Discovering the Double Helix



Charles Perkins Centre Audiorium Johns Hopkins Drive The University of Sydney

Chancellor Emeritus James D. Watson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Discovering the Double Helix: going for gold

At Cambridge University in March 1953, a 25 year old bacteriologist named James Watson and Francis Crick, a 37-year-old British physicist, presented a three dimensional model of double helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA.

In the next month Watson and Crick published their findings in Nature and the world of biology, medicine and science was transformed forever.

Join us for a special presentation by James Watson on the process of his discovery, and its continued impact on the modern biotechnology industry, including genetic fingerprinting and forensics, the mapping of the human genome, and gene therapy.


Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1928, James D. Watson was educated at the University of Chicago, where he received a B.S. in 1947, and Indiana University where he earned a Ph.D. in Zoology in 1950. In 1953, while at Cambridge University, he and Francis Crick successfully proposed the double helical structure of DNA.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962 was awarded jointly to Watson, Crick, and colleague Maurice Wilkins "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".

While a professor at Harvard, Watson commenced a writing career that generated The Molecular Biology of the Gene and The Double Helix. He was a driving force behind the Human Genome Project leading to his receipt of the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in 1993. Among many honorary degrees and awards are election to the National Academy of Sciences [1962], Medal of Freedom [1977], National Medal of Science [1997] and Honorary Knight of the British Empire [2002].

Watson has served the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory since 1968 as its Director, President, Chancellor, and now is Chancellor Emeritus.

Cost: Free and open to all with online registrations essential

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