Nobel Prize-winning DNA scientist James Watson disgraced following racist remarks

Nobel laureate James Watson is the co-discoverer of the DNA helix and father of the Human Genome Project.
Nobel laureate James Watson is the co-discoverer of the DNA helix and father of the Human Genome Project.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (XINHUA) - Nobel laureate James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA helix and father of the Human Genome Project, has been stripped of honours by his laboratory following "reprehensible" remarks on race and ethnicity.

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), the New York facility where Dr Watson worked for nearly four decades and which has a school named after him, said that it was acting in response to his remarks made in a television documentary which aired earlier this month.

The 90-year-old geneticist resigned under fire from his laboratory in 2007 after telling a British newspaper that people of African descent tend to have lower intelligence.

However, in the new PBS documentary titled American Masters: Decoding Watson, when asked about his views on race in the decade since his departure from the lab, Dr Watson said he stood by his former remarks, citing the difference in IQ test results to suggest black inferiority.

While the DNA pioneer also expressed his hope for everyone to be equal, he added that "people who have to deal with black employees found this is not true".

"Dr Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students. The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice," the laboratory said in a Friday (Jan 11) statement before revoking three titles - chancellor emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and honorary trustee - soon afterwards.