DNA Discoverer Retires in Wake of Race Remarks
NEW YORK – James Watson, the Nobel laureate who sparked an international furor last week with comments about intelligence levels among blacks, has retired from his post at a prestigious research institution.
Watson, 79, and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York announced his departure Thursday.
Watson was chancellor of the institution, and his retirement was effective immediately.
• Read about the original scandal here.
Watson was widely condemned last week for remarks he made in the Sunday Times Magazine of London on Oct. 14.
A profile quoted him as saying that 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."
He said that while he hopes everyone is equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true."
He also said people should not be discriminated against on the basis of color, because "there are many people of color who are very talented."
• Click here to read the Sunday Times Magazine profile.
He later apologized, said that the published comments did not reflect his views, canceled his book tour of Britain and returned to the U.S.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory suspended him from administrative duties Oct. 17 pending an inquiry.
In his statement Thursday, Watson said that because of his age, his retirement was "more than overdue. The circumstances in which this transfer is occurring, however, are not those which I could ever have anticipated or desired."
Watson shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA.
In a written statement given to The Associated Press last week, Watson said he was "mortified by what had happened."
"To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly," he said. "That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."
On Monday, Watson canceled an appearance in Louisville, Ky., next month.
National Public Radio host Neal Conan was scheduled to interview Watson at the Kentucky Author Forum on Nov. 12 to promote Watson's new memoir, "Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science."