Nancy Hopkins on Jim Watson’s Family
  Nancy Hopkins     Biography    
Recorded: 09 Apr 2001

I have spent a lot of time with Liz and with his children and I adore Liz. I think it was so smart of Jim to marry Liz. He might think he fell in love with her because she’s beautiful and she’s charming and she’s smart, and these are good things. But she’s much more than that. She is truly a wonderful, wonderful person, generous, gracious and deeply kind, and thoughtful and I think her contribution to Cold Spring Harbor is astounding, just remarkable. So he’s just an incredibly smart to pick this person. Again, he’s so smart: he does everything well. Even picking the right person to marry and someone who could work with him as a collaborator to make Cold Spring Harbor what was it is. I think she was an equal collaborator in creating Cold Spring Harbor, just a remarkable person really. Outstanding. I love her; I love her.

I think they’re still in love. I think that he fell in love with her and that’s it! Once he decides something, that’s it! I think they have a remarkable relationship and it is fun to be with them, because they are having fun. I think one wouldn’t think of a person who is such a great scientist having so much fun in his life. He loves to do fun things, go to interesting places. Of course, he has so many opportunities to have an amazing life. But he’s created all these other things—beautiful buildings at Cold Spring Harbor and he’s interested in art. They’ve been interested in architecture together. He’s traveled all over the world—gone to extraordinary places. And they’ve done it together as a team. So they have a tremendously exciting time together. They have had a wonderful life. Very remarkable and I think they are very unusual people.

Nancy Hopkins is a developmental biologist and the Amgen, Inc. Professor of Biology at MIT. Working under Jim Watson and Mark Ptashne, Hopkins earned her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1971. As a postdoctoral fellow she moved to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where she continued working under Watson researching DNA tumor viruses. In 1973 she joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in the Center for Cancer Research, where she researched the mechanisms of replication and leukemogenesis by RNA tumor viruses for 17 years.

Hopkins has also led an ongoing effort to end discrimination against women in science. In 1995 she was appointed Chair of the first Committee on Women Faculty in the School of Science at MIT, and in 2000 she was appointed Co-Chair of the first Council on Faculty Diversity at MIT. Hopkins co-authored the fourth edition of Molecular Biology of the Gene. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.