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James D. Watson
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James D. Watson

James Dewey Watson (born April 6, 1928) is one of the discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule. Born in Chicago, Illinois, he earned a B.Sc. in Zoology at the University of Chicago in 1947 and a Ph.D. in Zoology at Indiana University at Bloomington in 1950 before heading to Copenhagen for postdoctoral work.

In 1952, he started at Cavendish Laboratory, where he met Francis Crick. Building on the X-ray diffraction research of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, they together developed the proposal of the structure of DNA, which they published in the journal Nature on April 25, 1953. Watson, Crick, and Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery in 1962.

In 1988, Watson's achievement and success led to his appointment as the Head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health, a position he held until 1992.

Watson is an outspoken atheist, known for his frank opinions on politics, religion, and the role of science in society. Controversial views he has stated include:

A frequent public speaker, Watson currently serves as president of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Watson resides on the grounds of the laboratory. In 2004, his friend and colleague Francis Crick died of colon cancer at the age of 88 in San Diego.

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