Timeline Description: James Dewey Watson is an American scientist who is one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA. A Nobel prize winner, Watson's life has been dedicated to the study of the human gene.
|1928||James is born.
James Dewey Watson is born on April 6, 1928 in St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. His parents are James D. Watson and Jean Mitchell. When Watson is very young his father takes him to the library every Friday night, sharing his love of books. The two also enjoy bird watching together.
|1933||Early education (Around 1933 - 1943).
Watson attends Horace Mann Grammar School for 8 years and then goes to South Shore High School for 2 years. At age 15, he receives a scholarship to attend the University of Chicago under their early admissions program where a student can go to college after two years of high school.
|1940||Quiz Kids (Around 1940).
When Watson is around 12, he appears on the radio show, Quiz Kids. The listening audience sends in tough questions whose answers are researched for the host. The host asks the panel of 5 highly bright, intelligent kids a question, and they get points for answering correctly.
|1947||College (1947 - 1950).
Watson graduates from the University of Chicago in 1947 with a Bachelor's of Science in zoology. His interest in birds at a young age has led to an interest in genetics. He goes to Indiana University where he receives a doctorate in zoology in 1950.
|1950||Fellowship in Copenhagen (1950 - 1951).
In 1950 Watson goes to Copenhagen, Denmark as a National Research Council fellow. He attends a conference in Naples, Italy in 1951, where he hears a lecture on the structure of DNA, the building block of living organisms. Watson now desires to study the DNA molecule.
Watson starts work in October 1951 at Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England where he meets biologist Francis Crick. Both are interested in the structure of DNA. They try to create a model, but their first effort is unsuccessful.
|1953||The double helix.
Watson and Crick continue their partnership. Using research from a few other scientists, they discover that the DNA molecule is made up of two chains of molecules that form a double helix or twisting spiral construction.
|1953||Cal Tech (1953 - 1955).
Watson continues his education at the California Institute of Technology. He attends as a Senior Research Fellow in Biology. Watson returns to the Cavendish Lab and again works with Crick.
|1956||Harvard (1956 - 1976).
Watson starts as an Assistant Professor in the biology department at Harvard. He becomes a professor in 1961. Watson writes The Molecular Biology of the Gene in 1965, which becomes a popular university textbook.
Because of their participation in determining the structure of DNA, Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins are awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Rosalind Franklin has also contributed key research information that helps their findings, but she passes away in 1958.
|1968||Cold Spring, a book, and a bride.
Watson becomes the director of the Cold Spring Harbor Lab in New York. He also publishes another book, The Double Helix, which describes his view of how the DNA structure is discovered. That same year Watson marries Elizabeth Lewis. They have two sons together.
Watson becomes the Associate Director of the Human Genome Project for the National Institute of Health in 1988, becoming Director in 1989. He stays on the project until 1992.
|1994||President (1994 - 2007).
In 1994 Watson becomes the president of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He later becomes Chancellor. Watson retires as Chancellor in 2007, becoming Chancellor Emeritus (retired). His hope is that through science cancer and mental illness will soon be things of the past.
Watson makes history by becoming the first person to have his genome sequenced, meaning that the precise order of the molecules in his DNA are found out. He also has this information made available to the public.
In 2007 Watson publishes his memoir, Avoid Boring People:Lessons in a Life of Science. During this same year, he is criticized for racial comments he has supposedly made, which he later publicly apologizes for. James Dewey Watson will be remembered as the co-discoverer of the DNA structure, and as a brilliant scientist who spent his life trying to decipher the complex molecules that make up living organisms.