"Francis Crick and I made the discovery of the century, that was pretty clear. We made it, and I guess time has justified people paying all this respect to me in spite of my bad manners."
James Watson was only 25 years old when he and his older colleague, Francis Crick, discovered the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) the building block of all life on Earth. Modern biology, and the biotechnology industry it has spawned, would be unthinkable if these two had not determined the structure of the DNA molecule. Their model of this structure -- the double helix -- has become a universal symbol of the scientific profession, and the title of Watson's 1968 best-seller.
Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1962, but this was not the end of Watson's career in the public eye. Through his many books, and from lecterns at Cal Tech and Harvard, Watson charged into the heart of scientific controversies. As the long-time Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory he continued to lead the way in genetic research. From 1988 to 1992, James Watson served as the first Director of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health, a massive project to decipher the entire genetic code of the human species. He retired from administrative duties at Cold Spring Harbor in 2007.