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Working with Wally Gilbert


Running a lab at Harvard
James Watson Scientist
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Initially, the... Wally didn't have a position in physics so everyone was associated with me and then finally we got him a faculty position. It was first an associate it was a tenure Professor, we called... it was called Biophysics, and then there was the question of getting space for him. And then we got space for him. So by about 1965 it took about four years of quiet lobbying because everyone said, well, you know, why do you need, Wally should go off and be independent some other place. But I think both of us felt I think the two of us together led to a much more effective place. I mean I could go to, you know, Cambridge for three months and it made no difference. Likewise he took a year off, was in Paris for a year and I talked to his students, and so it was very when we were away the lab didn't slow down at all. And then we recruited other very bright people to be with us so by... oh, by '66 we were probably, you know, our group was as productive as Sydney and Francis and the LMB.

American molecular biologist James Dewey Watson is probably best known for discovering the structure of DNA for which he was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. His long career has seen him teaching at Harvard and Caltech, and taking over the directorship of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From 1988 to 1992, James Watson was head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health. His current research focuses on the study of cancer.

Listeners: Martin Raff Walter Gratzer

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Walter Gratzer is Emeritus Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at King's College London, and was for most of his research career a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council. He is the author of several books on popular science. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and has known Jim Watson since that time

Tags: Harvard, Sydney Brenner, Francis Crick, Wally Gilbert

Duration: 1 minute, 41 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2008 and October 2009

Date story went live: 18 June 2010