Fall From Grace: DNA Helix Discoverer, Nobel Prize Winner Stripped of Honors

James Watson

Dr Watson became Cold Spring Harbor's director in 1968, its president in 1994 and chancellor a decade later.

"Not at all", he said in the PBS documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson, the New York Times reported.

But it's his remarks on race that have drawn the most scorn, such as a 2007 interview with a British journalist in which Watson said he is "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" due to (debunked) research allegedly showing racial gaps in intelligence, per The New York Times.

The laboratory, calling the latest remarks "reprehensible" and "unsupported by science", said they effectively reversed Watson's 2007 written apology and retraction.

A Nobel Prize-winning American scientist who co-discovered DNA has been stripped of his honourary titles after repeating racist comments in a documentary. After "unequivocally" rejecting Watson's "unsubstantiated and reckless" opinions, the Laboratory stripped the 90-year-old scientist of all of his titles, noting that the institution "condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice".

In an interview aired on United States television earlier this month, James Watson - who won the Nobel in 1962 for his role in discovering DNA's double helix structure - said genes were responsible for a difference between black and white people on IQ tests. "There's a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests".


The lab ejected Watson from his role as chancellor and from administrative duties in 2007 following previous racist remarks - even though he retracted and apologized for the statements.

While the DNA pioneer also expressed his hope for everyone to be equal, he added: "People who have to deal with black employees found this is not true".

In that interview, Watson said that his views had not changed and he had not "seen any knowledge" negating his belief that there is a genetic connection between race and intelligence, the Times wrote.

Today, there is a consensus among scientists that race is a purely social construct, with no evidence to suggest distinct genetic differences between individuals from different populations.

"I believe there is very broad support among the faculty for the multiple steps that CSHL is taking in response to Watson's horrific comments", CSHL biologist Justin Kinney told STAT. In 1962, the team was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".

"My dad's statements might make him out to be a bigot and discriminatory", Rufus Watson said to the AP.

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