James D. Watson on Surprises in the HGP
  James D. Watson     Biography    
Recorded: 25 Jul 2003

I guess that the machine technology improved so much. That I always thought of the labs with thousands of people. In fact that proved unnecessary when the machines became basically one thousand times more efficient than they were when the project was conceived. Otherwise it went pretty much like the Albert’s report.

The unexpected thing when during the report there was no discussion of PCR. I mean then when the committee met. And during the symposium, it was in ’86, Mike Botchan had read the paper and was the one who got Kary Mullis to come. Mike knew someone in Cetus and it was Mike that led to Kary Mullis coming and giving the talk at Cold Spring Harbor.

A member of the Time 100 ‘Century’s Greatest Minds’, Dr. James Watson’s life in science has taken him from the revolutionary discovery of the structure of DNA to the head of the National Institute of Health’s Human Genome Project, and places between.

Dr. Watson was born in 1928 in Chicago, and enrolled at the University of Chicago when he was just 15. His graduate studies in genetics with Salvador Luria took him to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for the first time in 1948. His graduate work would eventually bring him to the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, where, together with fellow scientists Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick and Dr. Watson would discover how the four-nucleotide bases arrange themselves to create the unique identities of each living organism. Their account of the structure of DNA, published in Nature, would win them the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology. Watson's bestselling account of his time at Cavendish, The Double Helix, was named the No. 7 best work of nonfiction by the Modern Library.

Watson spent two decades at Harvard University, where he penned the revolutionary biology textbook, Molecular Biology of the Gene in 1965. Dr. Watson's distinguished academic career led him to the directorship of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1968, where he has pushed the lab towards important steps in cancer research and the causes of mental disease. From 1988 to 1992, Dr. Watson was appointed to head the National Institute of Health in the Human Genome Project. Dr. Watons's genome was the first to be decoded and was made public as part of the project in 2007. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, he has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science. After forty years as a brilliant educator and administrator, Dr. Watson retired as Chancellor of the laboratory in 2007.