James Watson resigns, Arroyo should follow

On the others side of the globe, the latest breaking news is that renowned DNA expert and Nobel Prize-winner James Watson has finally resigned from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to which he has been its Chancellor and board member for 43 years.

For all those who haven’t heard of who James Watson, he is one of the scientists who discovered the molecular structure of DNA in 1953 and for that, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine which he shared with Francis Crick, his partner in the discovery of the ‘secret of life.’ Remember highschool biology? 😉

Since then, he has been revered and looked up to in the scientific community as one of its greatest members and known to be someone who loves debate and discussion.

However, things started to look dim for the 79-year-old American scientist when in an interview with The Sunday Times, the Nobel Prize-winner said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”.

His racist comments have sparked outrage not just in the scientific community but throughout the world. Many of his colleagues, friends and those who look up to an icon of genetics were shocked, saddened and baffled as to why such a statement would come from such a man of esteem.

This tide of outrage against the scientist has seemed to have watered down the celebration of the closing years of his career. The promotion for his new book “Avoid Boring People” has been nearly stopped, his scheduled public appearances and lectures cancelled and he has been suspended by the various medical and scientific institutions to which he is a member of or an administrator.

Though James Watson has offered an apology, it seems it wasn’t enough or it was too late for finally, he has resigned from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Below is his full statement taken from GenomeWeb Daily News:

Statement of Dr. James D. Watson

This morning I have conveyed to the Trustees of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory my desire to retire immediately from my position as its Chancellor, as well as from my position on its Board, on which I have served for the past 43 years. Closer now to 80 than 79, the passing on of my remaining vestiges of leadership is more than overdue. The circumstances in which this transfer is occurring, however, are not those which I could ever have anticipated or desired.

That the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is now one of the world’s premier sites for biological research and education has long warmed my heart. So I am grateful that its Board now will allow me to remain along my beloved Bungtown Road. Forty-nine years ago, as a newly appointed young Assistant Professor at Harvard, I gave my first course on this pernicious collection of diseases of uncontrolled cell growth and division. Cancer, then an intellectual black box, now, in part because of research at the Laboratory, is almost full lit. Though important facts remain undiscovered, there is no reason why they should not soon be found. Final victory is within our grasp. Strong in spirit and intensely focused, I wish to be among those at the victory line.

The ever quickening advances of science made possible by the success of the Human Genome Project will also soon let us see the essences of mental disease. Only after we understand them at the genetic level can we rationally seek out appropriate therapies for such illnesses as schizophrenia and bipolar disease. For the children of my sister and me, this moment can not come a moment too soon. Hell does not come close to describing the impact of psychotic disorders on human life.

This week’s events focus me ever more intensely on the moral values passed on to me by my father, whose Watson surname marks his long ago Scots-Irish Appalachian heritage; and by my mother, whose father, Lauchlin Mitchell, came from Glasgow and whose mother, Lizzie Gleason, had parents from Tipperary. To my great advantage, their lives were guided by a faith in reason; an honest application of its messages; and for social justice, especially the need for those on top to help care for the less fortunate. As an educator, I have always striven to see that the fruits of the American Dream are available to all.

I have been much blessed.

James D. Watson One Bungtown Road Cold Spring Harbor, New York October 2007

Sad yet shocking. I never thought that someone of so much esteem and education would end up saying something like that. Must be the effects of winning a Nobel Prize but I certainly hope not as I take it as something to be the effect of aging. You know that old saying, “old tigers never go down with out fight” or in this case, it’s one last hurah for the old man.

With his resignation, let’s hope that things will come around for James Watson, realize what he has done and has happened because of it. Lastly, I pray that Arroyo et. al does the same thing and resigns.

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