American Philosophical Society
Member History

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1Name:  Dr. James D. Watson
 Institution:  Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
 Year Elected:  1977
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  207. Genetics
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1928
James Watson earned a Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Indiana in 1950. He completed his postgraduate work at the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge, and in the process, working with Francis Crick discovered the double helical structure of DNA using X-ray diffraction methods originally implemented by physicist Maurice Wilkins. For this monumental discovery the three men were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. Watson was a member of the faculty at Harvard University from 1955-76. He became the director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1968 and served as its president, then chancellor from 1994 to 2007. He was associate director at the National Center for Human Genome Research of the NIH from 1988-89 and its director from 1989-92. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the National Medal of Science in 1997. The American Philosophical Society's 2001 Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Science was awarded jointly to Francis H. C. Crick and James D. Watson. The citation on the prize certificate read, "In recognition of the determination of the structure of DNA, with Francis H. C. Crick, in 1953. Their brilliant discovery is universally recognized as one of the seminal events in biology in the twentieth century. The structure elegantly explained how DNA could replicate with the utmost fidelity. Their work launched one of the most productive areas of biological science - molecular biology." Dr. Watson is the author of Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965, 4th edition, 1986); The Double Helix (1968); The DNA Story, 1981; (with others) The Molecular Biology of the Cell (1983, 2nd edition, 1989, 3rd edition, 1994); (with J. Tooze and D. Kurtz) Recombinant DNA, A Short Course (1983, 2nd edition, 1992); A Passion for DNA (2000); Genes, Girls and Gamow (2001); DNA: The Secret of Life (2003); Darwin (foreword and commentary, 2005); Recombinant DNA: Genes and Genomes - A Short Course (with others, 2007); and Avoid Boring People (2007). Dr. Watson was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1977.
Election Year
1977 (1)