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For further MBL News and Media Information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or e-mail us at .

July 30, 2004

James Watson kneels before a model of DNA in Woods Hole during the summer of 1954. A plexiglass cube contains a double helix with golf balls studded with blue dots for eyes, a marine jawbone for a mouth, Watson's floppy hat on top and his painted golden sneakers as a base.

Photo credit: Delbert E Philpott

Nobel Laureate James Watson to Deliver Lecture at the Marine Biological Laboratory, August 5

Talk followed by opening of a photography exhibit featuring MBL and Woods during the summer of 1954

WOODS HOLE, MA—Nobel Laureate Dr. James Watson will recall his experiences in Woods Hole during the summer of 1954 at a lecture titled, "The RNA Tie Club" on Thursday, August 5 at 7:30 PM at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Lillie Auditorium, MBL Street, Woods Hole.  The lecture will be followed by a reception in MBL’s Swope Center where the exhibit "Science is We" is currently on display.  The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

On April 26, 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick published their seminal paper on the structure of DNA in the journal Nature. Earlier that year, Rosalind Franklin produced the definitive image of the B form of DNA, which demonstrated the helical shape of the molecule. In the summer of 1954, all three scientists were at the MBL, Watson as an instructor in the Laboratory’s Physiology course, Crick and Franklin as visitors. In his lecture, Watson will discuss what brought these scientists to Woods Hole and what their summer was like.

Immediately following Watson’s talk, the public is invited to view the “Science is We” exhibition, which presents a photographic record of the people and events at the MBL during the summer of 1954. There is the usual assortment of international scientists at work in the lab, conversing on the campus or lazing on the beach. There is the formal course work and the informal parties shared by Nobel Prize winners and aspiring students alike.  There are sailing races, Hurricane Carol, and the construction of an off-site "molecule"—one of Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes.   These images evoke a sense of the period as well as of the community of science. They also demonstrate the informal and free exchange of information that has characterized summers at the MBL since its inception and the solidarity of the Woods Hole community.


The Marine Biological Laboratory is an independent scientific institution, founded in 1888, dedicated to improving the human condition through basic research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. MBL hosts research programs in cell and developmental biology, ecosystems studies, molecular biology and evolution, neurobiology, behavior, global infectious diseases and sensory physiology. Its intensive graduate-level educational program is renowned throughout the life sciences. The MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the western hemisphere.