James Watson

A Passion for DNA Genes, Genomes and Society Translated from the English (United States) by Jean Mouchard. Publication date : November 1, 2003

In 1953, two young scientists, James Watson and Francis Crick, began a scientific revolution when they discovered the double helix structure of the DNA molecule, the substance that is the basis of heredity. This enabled them to show how genes duplicate themselves and are transmitted from generation to generation. As a result of their groundbreaking discoveries it became clear that all living creatures possess the same genetic code, and that this code governs protein production — an essential function of all living organisms. It thus became possible to modify the genetic configuration of an organism and to establish the foundations of industrial biotechnology. It has also become possible to map the human genome and to envisage the treatment and prevention of genetic disorders. James Watson, who won Nobel Prize in 1962 at the age of 34, has continued to play a central role in the field of genetics. Throughout his long scientific career, he has constantly sought to explain the latest developments and findings. The present volume is a collection of articles and lectures reflecting his views during the past fifty years on such subjects as GM foods, cancer, the sequencing of the human genome, and the ethical and social consequences of biology. This is a thought-provoking, often optimistic and always spirited book, reflecting the life and work of one of the great minds of the twentieth century.

James D. Watson is best known as the co-discoverer, with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, of the molecular structure of DNA. For this accomplishment, the three men shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Watson is the author of the international bestseller The Double Helix, a personal account of the steps involved in this groundbreaking discovery. In 1968, Watson was appointed director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, on Long Island, New York, and became its president in 1994. From 1989 to 1992, he served as the first director of the American National Center for Human Genome Research. He is a member of the American National Academy of Sciences and of the British Royal Society.