Watson returns to Italy

Above is a newsclip of Dr. Watson that aired this past weekend in Italy.  At age 84 he is still traversing the globe, delivering lectures on his famous discovery, as well as his current scientific passion, the future of cancer research.  Watson has a long-time connection with Italy.  Salvador Luria was Watson's mentor at the University of Indiana and introduced the young graduate student to the wold of phage research.  That would lead Watson to his first summer at Cold Spring Harbor, where he remains to this day.  It was at Indiana that he met another famous Italian scientist, Renato Dulbecco.  Dulbecco would go on to work with Joseph Sambrook at the Salk Institute in the late 1960s, who would then go on to be Watson's Assistant Director at CSHL for almost 20 years.  These type of connections abound in the scientific world.

Manny Delbruck and Salvador Luria at CSHL in 1953

In April 1951 Watson traveled to Italy for the first time, to spend two months at the Zoological Station at Naples.  It was here that Watson took in a talk by Maurice Wilkins on the structure of DNA.  Towards the end of his talk he presented a new X-ray photograph of DNA -- this fateful image would prove to Watson that the nucleic acid had a regular structure, and therefore the structure could be deciphered using the standard methods: a combination of X-ray crystallography and/or model building.  The wheels started turning in his brain, and two years later he and Francis Crick (with much needed insight from Rosalind Franklin's famous X-ray photograph) "discovered" the helical structure of DNA -- and unraveled the "secret of life."

This time around Watson only stayed a few days in Lo Stivale, delivering 3 talks before flying off to Cyprus.  And the never ending lecture tour continues...

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