James Dewey Watson was an American geneticist and biophysicist. Noted for his decisive work in the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA, the hereditary material associated with the transmission of genetic information. He shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins in 1962.
Early Life and Education:
James Watson was born in 1928 in Chicago, Illinois and his father was a tax collector of Scottish ancestry. He attended the University of Chicago, Indiana University and the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge with Francis Crick. He was appointed a faculty member at Harvard University, and a few years later, the director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Contributions and Achievements:
James Watson gained worldwide fame and prominence as the joint author of the four scientific papers between 1953 and 1954 (which he co-wrote with fellow scientist Francis Crick) that laid down the double helical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a megamolecule that is the fundamental substance in the process of genetic replication. This discovery won Watson and Crick (with Maurice Wilkins) the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1962.
During the 1960s, Watson became one of the most celebrated science writers, as he published his textbook “Molendor Biology of the Gene” in 1965, and his best-selling autobiographical book “The Double Helix” in 1968. Watson became the undisputed leading voice in the whole of American science. He epitomized the scientific creativity in 20th century science, giving rise to molecular biology and its two applied offsets; biotechnology and the “Human Genome Project”.