It is hard to believe that it has only been 60 years (today) that James Watson and Francis Crick unmasked DNA’s double helix structure and forever changed our understanding of life. The discovery is still paying enormous dividends, allowing researchers to explore numerous disciplines from genetics to medicine and bio-engineering, etc.
Since that incredible day, the Watson-Crick discovery has taught generations of scientists a completely new alphabet comprised of four molecular letters A, T, C and G, which dictate the “storage, copying and transference of their information in usable form.”
“It is clearly one of the biggest discoveries, if not the seminal discovery of life sciences in the 20th century,” commented Prof. David Stewart of the Watson School of Biological Sciences at the Cold Spring Harbor Lab on Long Island.
The lab is celebrating the anniversary with a four-day meeting featuring seven Nobel Prize winners, including the 84 year old Watson, chancellor emeritus of the facility.
While ten years ago, participants at the 50th anniversary celebration primarily looked back, marvling at how far they had come, this year they will discuss the future of genomics.
In addition, the bar on campus has been transformed into a close replica of the Eagle Pub in Cambridge, England, where Crick is said to have interrupted lunchtime pateons on February 28, 1953, with the simple announcement: “We have discovered the secret of life.”
“The most remarkable thing is that nobody had a clear idea how genes could copy themselves, which is the basis for how life reproduces,” stated Alex Gann, Watson School’s dean. “In retrospect, no one before 1953 believed the chemistry of life was so simple.”