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June 23, 2007

Dr. Watson with Dr. Rothberg

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This is Dr. Henry Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix and the basis for heredity, with my boss Dr. Jonathan Rothberg. Jonathan has successfully completed the sequencing of the first human genome, Dr. Watson's, and is presenting it to him in this photo.

Here is an article from Reuters:
By Bruce Nichols
Thu May 31, 5:54 PM ET

More than 50 years after helping to uncover the double-helix structure of DNA, James D. Watson has seen his own genome, and said on Thursday he will publish it for science to use.


"I'm thrilled," said Watson, 79, who with Francis Crick won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for work in the early 1950s identifying the structure of the human genetic code. Crick died in 2004.

Watson donated DNA to Houston's Baylor College of Medicine for the joint effort with 454 Life Sciences, a Connecticut-based subsidiary of Swiss drugmaker Roche AG, to sequence his DNA. The project took two months and cost $1 million.

The human genome -- a map of all the DNA -- was completed in 2003 at a cost of $400 million, including a $300 million government-funded effort and a $100 million private project. Leaders of the Watson genome project said it was a step toward speeding up the process and lowering its cost.

"There can be no more fitting way to that than to be here celebrating the sequence of Dr. James Watson," said Richard Gibbs, director of the Baylor human genome sequencing center.

The Chicago-born zoology professor, who was given a hard rive carrying the information, joked that he was surprised to still be around when the project was completed.

Rothberg said Watson's genome includes several chromosomes with variations, including one already determined to predispose people to cancer.

Watson, who has battled skin cancer since his 20s, said he is allowing the data to be posted on the Internet for further study and to prove society has nothing to fear from sharing such information.

He said he understood the fears of genetically based discrimination but added that such fears are exaggerated. "We probably won't increase the amount of unfair discrimination, but we may explain some of it," he said.

He is however avoiding disclosure to himself or others about whether his genetic makeup predisposes him to Alzheimer's disease, the incurable and debilitating brain disease that is the leading cause of dementia.

"Since we can't really do much about Alzheimer's, I didn't want to know whether I was at risk," Watson said. "One of my grandmothers died of Alzheimer's at age 84, so I figured I had a one in four chance," he said.

Posted by Heather at June 23, 2007 08:43 AM


Hi Heather...I'm at my brother's right now and I'm looking for the pics of George's nose...where are they? I thought it would be a great converstaion piece as his significant other fell and cracked her nose. How's everything? Hi to all. My email is jane5397@verizon.net if needed..bbfn, Jane

Posted by: Jane at June 24, 2007 09:12 AM

Did you get to meet him?

Posted by: Mom at June 28, 2007 07:04 AM

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