Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Double Helix Watson DNA Part 3

Since I have already recommended The Double Helix by James Watson I will not discuss anymore the bock except for a few brief points. I then want to move into two different scientific controversies in which Watson has subsequently been involved.

Watson and Crick received a Nobel prize in 1962 for their work on DNA. What I did not know was that another researcher, Maurice Wilkins, at a different laboratory shared the Nobel prize along with Watson and Crick as they used a lot of his data on X ray crystallography in their own work. The interesting thing to me was that Rosalind Franklin who worked with Wilkins and did much of the crystallography work herself and whose x ray picture of DNA was used (some say stolen) as the final piece of evidence that Watson and Crick needed to develop their model did not share the Nobel. Four researchers and three prizes. The woman was left out. I hope we have come along way since 1962. Watson did in his book credit her. She died before the Nobels were awarded so never knew she was excluded.

In 1988 Watson became Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) project on the human genome, an ambitious project to sequence the entire human genome. NIH had several goals. They wanted to identify all the approimately 20,00-25,000 genes in DNA, determine the sequencing of the 3 billion base pairs that make up human DNA, store the information in data bases, improve tools for data analyses, transfer technologies to the private sector and address the ethical, legal, and social issues that could arise from such a project. Amazingly the identification of all the human genes and determination of all the base pairs crompising DNA was accoilplished in 2003. Watson resigned in 1992, howsever and was not there to see the project to completion. I will discuss that in another post.

Thought for the day

"Utter not a word by which anyone could be wounded"

Ancient Hindu saying

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