James D. Watson on Joe Sambrook
  James D. Watson     Biography    
Recorded: 25 Jul 2003

I have just enormous respect for—Joe’s a logical thinker. He’s just very bright and he—he just works hard. He never stops working. So he’s sort of driven. Yes, my success here is, you know—John Cairns said Joe was good and so I met Joe and immediately, you know, he had high objectives. I was very sad about the way, you know, he’s become lame and all that sort of stuff that’s really pretty tough.

He’s a super writer. He was very good for this place. I mean when he was here. You know, it almost sounds like, you know, the now-fired editor of the New York Times. You know, ___________. So there were a lot of people who probably breathed easier when Joe wasn’t looking down their, you know.

Joe never made a—you know, did work which really showed the SV40 was integrated. _________Dulbecco got a lot of credit for—I guess if I had been running the Salk and not putting my name on papers Joe would be better known. The fact is [that] Dulbecco’s Nobel Prize owed a lot to Joe.

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.