Nobel Prize Winner James Watson Visits the J. Graham Brown Cancer Center

James Watson, PhD, winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins for the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA, presented “Curing Incurable Cancer” and attended other events associated with the Kentucky Derby.  He was invited by Jason Chesney, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Director of the J. Graham Brown Cancer Center, after the two had dinner together at Cold Spring Harbor’s Banbury Center during a scientific conference on cancer metabolism.

Crick, Watson and Wilkins published their work showing the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) more than 50 years ago. Their 1953 discovery still stands as one of the world’s greatest scientific breakthroughs. By identifying what had been the elusive picture of DNA, they made it possible for future scientists to make great strides in understanding the human genome and the importance of DNA to life.

Between 1968 and 1993, Watson was director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and was the driving force behind the conception and completion of the Human Genome Project. He was the first director of the National Center for Human Genome Research from 1989 to 1992.

“Jim Watson’s discovery of the double helix structure of DNA paved the way for studies that demonstrated that cancer cells have discrete mutations that drive their growth.  These mutated proteins are prime targets for drug discovery and have already resulted in the development of multiple new drugs that can cure cancer patients.  I can’t think of another discovery that has had such a huge impact on the welfare of our cancer patients,”  said Jason Chesney, deputy director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

“We are very fortunate to have one of the world’s most revered scientists joining us for this occasion. Dr. Watson has inspired thousands of successful scientists and has had a huge impact on the development of science over the past 60 years,” said Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

“The University of Louisville is an exciting place to be these days. Dr. Watson will see and feel the energy we’re pouring into research and innovation, something a Nobel Prize winner understands and appreciates,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “At the same time, this is an uncommon opportunity for our students and our community to see and hear one of the greatest scientific pioneers of our time. The University of Louisville is proud to make this opportunity available.”