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Watson, James D., 1928-

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Definition: Watson, James Dewey from

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

, James Dewey Born 1928.


American molecular biologist who with Francis Crick proposed a spiral model, the double helix, for the molecular structure of DNA. He shared a 1962 Nobel Prize for this work.


James Watson photographed in 2006 Getty Images GI Photo: Evan Agostini

Summary Article: Watson, James (Dewey) (1928 - ) from The Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists
Watson’s boyhood enthusiasm for bird-watching led him to entry, aged 15, to Chicago University where he graduated in zoology when only 19. He worked for his PhD at Indiana University at Bloomington, studying phages (bacterial viruses), learning much about bacterial viruses and biochemistry and becoming convinced that the chemistry of genes, then little understood, was of fundamental importance for biology. A fellowship took him to Copenhagen in 1950 to study bacterial metabolism, but soon his enthusiasm for DNA led him to Cambridge and to collaboration with Crick in the Cavendish Laboratory. Their talents and personalities were highly complementary; their joint ideas, assisted by X-ray diffraction studies by Rosalind Franklin and by M H F Wilkins (1916 - ), achieved a revolution in biology with publication in 1953 of the proposed double helix structure for DNA, together with a suggestion of a path for the replication of genes (the b...    Continue Reading
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