Public Release: 

Father of double helix visits UH

Nobel laureate James D. Watson gives annual Farfel Lecture

University of Houston

HOUSTON, March 14, 2005 - James D. Watson, known for his discovery of the DNA structure, will speak at the University of Houston at 7 p.m., April 7, as part of the Farfel Distinguished Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public, but requires a reservation.

Watson was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, together with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. Watson and his co-recipients were the first to propose that DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the material inside a molecule that carries all genetic information, takes the shape of a slightly twisted ladder, called the double helix. This discovery helped the scientific community understand the structure of the molecule more accurately and led to myriad discoveries on the function and practical uses of DNA. Watson's UH lecture is titled "My Life with DNA."

The Farfel Distinguished Lecture series is UH's most prestigious lectureship. Designed to bring provocative thinkers in every field to the university and to the Houston community at large, it is endowed though a generous gift from the family of philanthropists Aaron and Esther Farfel in their memory. Aaron Farfel served on the UH System Board of Regents for 16 years and was chairman from 1971 to 1979.

Watson received his Ph.D. in zoology from Indiana University in 1950 and joined the faculty at Harvard University in 1956. In 1968, he became director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, New York, becoming president in 1994. In 1988, Watson was appointed director of the National Center for Human Genome Research and successfully initiated the Human Genome Project, a massive undertaking to decipher the entire genetic code of the human species.

Holding more than 20 honorary degrees, Watson has held research fellowships in Copenhagen and at the University of Cambridge. He also has been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science and membership in the United Kingdom's Royal Society.

In a special appearance, Watson also will speak to the cell biology class of Werner Hoch, assistant professor of biology and biochemistry, from 10-11:15 a.m., April 7. This is not a public event, but media can attend by prior arrangement.

Those requesting an admission ticket must call 713-743-2255.

James D. Watson
1962 Nobel Laureate for the Double Helix

Farfel Distinguished Lecture Series

7 p.m., Thursday, April 7

University of Houston Cullen Performance Hall
Entrance 1 off University Drive and Texas Spur 5
Free parking in Lot 20 with shuttle service available


For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at

To receive UH science news via e-mail, visit

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.