April 6, 1928 (a Friday)

James Watson

On this date, the American molecular biologist James D. Watson was born in Chicago. Best known as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA, Watson along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.

During his undergraduate years at the University of Chicago, Watson’s boyhood interest in bird-watching matured into a serious desire to learn genetics. This became possible when he received a Fellowship for graduate study in Zoology at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he received his Ph.D. degree in Zoology in 1950. He began working at the Cavendish Laboratory in England in early October 1951. Watson soon met Crick and discovered their common interest in solving the structure of DNA. They thought it should be possible to correctly guess its structure, given both the experimental evidence at King’s College plus careful examination of the possible stereochemical configurations of polynucleotide chains.

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