Pioneering DNA scientist loses titles after claims over race

14 January, 2019, 16:10 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • In 2007 Dr Watson said he was 'inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa'

The scientist said at the time that he chose to sell the award in an attempt to redeem his reputation after his comments in 2007, The New York Times reported.

At the time, he was forced to retire from his job as chancellor at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, but he has retained his office there, as well as the titles of chancellor emeritus, Oliver R. Grace professor emeritus and honorary trustee.

"Dr. Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students", the lab said in a statement posted on Friday.

The graduate school of biological sciences at the research center is named for Watson, and the laboratory held a 90th birthday party for him in the spring.

In 2007, he said he was "inherently gloomy" about Africa's prospects because Western policies towards the continent assumed Africans were as intelligent as Europeans.

In a new PBS documentary, the titan of genetics said that his opinions on the issue remain unchanged, adding that differences in IQ's between Caucasians and other races were reflected in DNA.

Dr. Watson won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine alongside Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins for their discovery, in 1953, that DNA was a double helix and "its significance for information transfer".

In that interview, he also said he wished racial equality was real but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true". "There's a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests".


The lab said it was reacting to Mr Watson's remarks in a television documentary aired earlier this month.

The Times reported that Watson's family said he was unable to respond, having been in medical care since a vehicle accident in October.

Michael Wigler, a veteran molecular biologist at the laboratory, said that Watson's views on race were not newsworthy in the first place.

In 1997 he told the Sunday Telegraph that a woman should be allowed to abort a child for any reason, including for homosexuality if a gene could be found that determined it.

But leading geneticists say that even modern DNA studies are now unable to validate such hypotheses about differences between human populations.

During a lecture tour in 2000, he suggested there might be links between a person's weight and their level of ambition and between skin colour and sexual prowess.

James Watson co-discovered the DNA molecule structure.

In an interview with the news agency, his son Rufus said Dr Watson's statements "might make him out to be a bigot and discriminatory" but that was not true.

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