Edward Lewis on Jim Watson
  Edward Lewis     Biography    
Recorded: 04 Jun 2001

I don’t know where I first met Jim. Wouldn’t have been at Cold Spring Harbor. People I met at Cold Spring Harbor were people like Jim Neel, Sansome [E.R.]. I don’t know what happened to Sansome. Do you have that name? He wrote a textbook of cytology. I believe [he was] a plant person. When would Watson have been [there]? He’s about twenty years younger than me?

[He’s] 73, yeah, ten years younger. See when I was there, he was not likely to have been there. The last time I spent a summer there was maybe fifteen years ago, not a summer, but a symposium. I might have [first] met him here, but I met him twice at Caltech. I remember [then Caltech President, George] Beadle, who was very excited to have him here. I remember [Max] Delbrück telling Beadle, “You shouldn’t be praising him like that.” Delbrück didn’t like it because Beadle was impressed and rightly so. I remember that I never got to know him well. I don’t think he is an easy person to get to know. I saw him recently in Cold Spring Harbor. [I saw him] in Philadelphia. He said [to me], “Say, did you know that jogging (– he knew that I was jogging –) promotes cell division in the brain.” I [said], “I had heard of it, yes.” And I said, “Well, what do you do?” and he said, “I play tennis.” I think that is sort of interesting. He is never usually that relaxed. Maybe he had had a few drinks.

Edward B. Lewis (1918-2004) was a renowned leader in genetics and Drosophila development research. He received his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1942. He served as captain of the United States Army Air Force from 1942-1945 as a meteorologist and an oceanographer in the Pacific Theatre. In 1946, he joined the Caltech faculty and was appointed Professor of Biology in 1956, earning a Thomas Hunt Morgan Professorship in 1966. In 1995, Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development” along with Christiane Nusslein-Volhard and Eric Wieschaus. Lewis is also a recipient of the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal (1983), the Gairdner Foundation International award (1987), the Wolf Foundation prize in medicine (1989), the Rosenstiel award (1990) and the National Medal of Science (1990).