DNA structure discoverer to give cancer centre talk

ONE of the world’s greatest scientists will deliver a lecture at UCC this week to mark an international collaboration between two leading cancer research centres.

Nobel Laureate, Dr James Watson, 82, best known as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA, will give the Cork Cancer Research Centre’s (CCRC) inaugural cancer lecture at UCC on Wednesday.

He will also receive an honorary doctorate from the university.

The invitation-only lecture will focus on cancer research and opportunities for a cure within 10 years.

It will also mark the formal collaboration between the CCRC and the Leslie and Jean Quick Cancer Laboratories at Cold Spring Harbor, in Long Island, New York.

“We feel greatly honoured that one of the greatest biological scientists ever is visiting our centre and the University and that he will give the inaugural Cork Cancer Research Centre annual lecture,” CCRC’s founder director, Professor Gerald C O’Sullivan said.

In 1953, while at Cambridge University, he and Francis Crick successfully proposed the double helical structure for DNA, a feat described by Peter Medawar as “the greatest achievement of science in the twentieth century”.

In 1962, Watson and Crick, together with Maurice Wilkins, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research.

Watson has written several books including Molecular Biology of the Gene, the best-selling autobiographical volume, The Double Helix, and most recently Avoid Boring People.

Later, while leading the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, he was a driving force behind setting up the Human Genome Project, a major factor in his receipt in 1993 of the Copley Medal from the Royal Society that elected him a member in 1981.

Among many other honours, Dr Watson was elected in 1962 to the National Academy of Sciences and, in 1977, received the Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford.

He received the Capo d’Orlando Prize in Vico Equense, Italy in 2009 and the Prizvanie Award in Moscow, Russia in 2010.

* A video of his lecture will be available on www.ccrc.ie from Thursday.

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