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Genetics, mental illness and DNA chips


The Human Genome Project (Part 4)
James Watson Scientist
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I was put on, oh, within a year or two, the British Genome Committee, sort of like Sydney had been on ours, which was very nice 'cause it brought me back here fairly often. And I could watch the creation of the new campus at Hinxton, 10 miles outside of Cambridge, which I visited yesterday and - extraordinary. It's the, it’ll be the genome centre of the world, the European bioinformatics sort of thing. And you know, there was great vision of the Wellcome Trust in creating it. And they then I think funded about 30% of the genome. So, more in proportion to the size of England and it was really done because John Sulston working with Bob Waterson in St Louis had the project of sequencing the worm, C. elegans. And soon after I was fired, Craig Venter hoped he would be appointed as director of the Genome Institute, but he was passed over when Healy chose Francis Collins. And soon afterwards, Craig formed the Institute for Genome Research, supported by private money for a new company called Human Genome Sciences, which would get all the commercial rights to the cDNAs produced by Craig. And so Craig's institute was just north of Washington, five miles from NIH, fairly close. And they produced the first genome sequence out of a tiny salt- loving bacterium which had a sort of reduced genome. So the Institute for Genome Science besides producing most of the relevant cDNAs did bacteria. And whereas I had - and Dick McCombie who had worked for Craig when he was at NIH, when Craig moved to the Institute for Genome Sciences, he accepted a job from me at Cold Spring Harbor. So we began to do sequencing, but we worked at the beginning of the thing and never became a big component of the Human Genome Project. We worked largely with plant DNA which wasn't funded by that.

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: Walter Gratzer Martin Raff

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

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



Duration: 3 minutes, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2008 and October 2009

Date story went live: 18 June 2010