Nobel winner James Watson stripped of titles over ‘reprehensible’ views on race

James D. Watson. Photo: National Institutes of Health

Jan. 13 (UPI) — Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson was stripped of his honorary titles from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the New York facility where he worked for nearly four decades.

The facility said it condemned his views of race and ethnicity, which he recently expressed in the PBS documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson. He resigned under fire from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2007 after telling a British newspaper that people of African descent tend to have lower intelligence.

In the PBS documentary, the host asked Watson if he had changed his views on race in the decade since his departure from the lab. He said he had not.

“Dr. Watson’s statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students. The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice,” the laboratory said in a statement Friday.

The CSHL said it revoked three titles, including chancellor emeritus and honorary trustee. He served as director in 1968, president in 1994 and chancellor in 2004.

Watson, as a young post-doctoral student at Cambridge, worked with Francis Crick to unravel the DNA molecule’s structure. Watson, Crick and another British scientist, Maurice Wilkins, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962.

“Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory acknowledges and appreciates Dr. Watson’s substantial scientific legacy, including his role as founding director of the Human Genome Project and his critical leadership in the development of research and education at the Laboratory during his prior tenure as director and president,” CSHL said. “Nonetheless, the statements he made in the documentary are completely and utterly incompatible with our mission, values, and policies, and require the severing of any remaining vestiges of his involvement.”


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