Father of DNA James Watson Visits SUSTech

日期 2017 04 09/分类 News


Father of DNA James Watson Visits SUSTech


On the morning of April 7, 2017, James Watson, discoverer of DNA double helix structure, and the winner of 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, visited SUSTech, being the guest of 111th SUSTech Lecture series, discussing with members of the community, and sharing his scientific life. The theme of the exchange meeting is “Elite Education and the Future of the World”. Lu Chun, Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Chief Operating Officer, has been entrusted to host the event.






DNA double helix structure is one of the most important scientific discoveries in the 20th Century, and is regarded as one of the most important three scientific discoveries in the 20th Century (together with theory of relativity and quantum mechanics). James Dewey Watson, a world-renowned biologist and the winner of 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the DNA double helix structure (including the central law) with British biologist Francis Harry Hampton Creek in 1953; he is known as “the father of DNA”. Since 1968, he served as director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island in New York, where he was mainly engaged in tumor research. At the same time, he is also an academician of United States National Academy of Sciences, the UK Royal Society, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Danish Academy of Sciences, the Munich International Academy of Sciences and other academy of sciences.


At the meeting, James Watson talked about the importance of DNA and the development of biological research and so forth. His work Double Helix explains the molecular biology of genes, which further reveals the basic structure of DNA. He suggested that, young students who are interested in the biology must learn chemistry well, because carrying out many biological researches needs the knowledge of chemistry. James Watson recalls that, when he and Crick brought about the idea of double helix structure, they both were very concerned about the chemical reaction of the biological itself. In December 1951, they made a water-based study, which had an important effect on the later discovery of DNA double helix structure. He also said that after the study of DNA structure, they hoped to focus on cancer research. The biological chemistry of cancer cells is what he concerns. He also believes that the best way to treat cancer can be found in a natural channel, and he hopes that more chemists will be able to participate in research in this field and use science for human well-being.


James Watson emphasized the importance of elite education. He believes that, university must be able to train top students. Accepting a very good elite education is an important reason for his success. He shared his education experiences; he began to study at the University of Chicago, one of the world’s top universities, at the age of 15. He thinks highly of the general education of the University of Chicago; James believes that general education should teach students the truth, but students learn the facts and knowledge does not mean they will think about these facts and know how to use knowledge, which often results that many students do not like to use their brains. You cannot force them to use their brains. We must continue to use problems to stimulate them, so that they can think about the problem, and they can be really talents who can make contributions to the improvement of our world.




James Watson also shared one important reason for his success: to learn with a humble heart. He believes that young people should not be conceited or complacent; they should continue to learn new knowledge. Young students in the process of learning need to learn from each other. “I never thought that I am the smartest of all the people here,” he quoted a German proverb, “no one is the cleverest man in the world,” and once again, emphasized the humble attitude. He said that, it is this humble attitude that lets him continue to learn to make progress, and to achieve success. He recalled the years he worked as a teacher in Harvard in 1955. He benefited a lot from the years when he worked with world-class peers and explored the truth of science.


In addition, he also believes that innovation is based on knowledge, but in the field of innovation, no one is an expert; scientific research and innovation have nothing to do with age, only with a heart of innovation can one continue to develop. In his view, the depth of scientific research and research focus are also very important. Biology will bring about an innovation, which is one of the most important innovations in human life. He believes that through continuous innovation made by outstanding scientists of various countries who have a variety of skin color, there will be new technologies to help humans cure cancer eventually and better survival and development.


At the end of the exchange meeting, Lu Chun presented James Watson with the commemorative certificate of the 111th SUSTech Lecture. James Watson wrote “Avoid boring people!” for all SUSTech students, hoping that everyone can become a characteristic and interesting person.


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