Molecular Biologist, Geneticist, and Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine
James D. Watson was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1928 and educated at the University of Chicago. In 1953, while at Cambridge University, he and Francis Crick successfully proposed the double helical structure for DNA. They, together with Maurice Wilkins, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. While a professor at Harvard, Watson commenced a writing career that generated The Molecular Biology of the Gene and his autobiographical volume, The Double Helix. While at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Watson was a driving force behind the Human Genome Project that led to his receipt of the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in 1993. Among many honorary degrees and awards are election to the National Academy of Sciences (1962), the Medal of Freedom (1977), the National Medal of Science (1997), the City of Philadelphia Liberty Medal (2000), and the Benjamin Franklin Medal (2001). Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed him an honorary Knight of the British Empire on January 1, 2002. Watson has served the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory since 1968 as its director, president, chancellor, and currently chancellor emeritus.