Lab Drops Watson’s Name From Grad Program

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has decided to remove the name of Dr. James D. Watson from its graduate school because of past racist statements the Nobel laureate has made.

The lab said the graduate program was begun in 1999 and shortly thereafter, named for the co-discover of the double helix structure of the DNA molecule because of his considerable contributions to the lab, science, and the nation over a lifetime of achievement spanning more than 50 years.

However, “since that time Dr. Watson has expressed views on race which are incompatible with CSHL’s mission and values. Accordingly, a committee consisting of Trustees, representatives of the faculty, and former and current graduate students was established in 2019 to evaluate renaming the graduate school.

Last week, the Board of Trustees,with the support of the majority of the faculty and students, voted to restore the original name of the graduate program to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory School of Biological Sciences.

The Board of Trustees also endorsed a plan proposed and widely supported by the faculty to initiate a new program at the graduate school concerning the social impact of the biological sciences.

The program will complement ongoing programs at the CSHL Banbury Center and DNA Learning Center that broaden accessibility to the sciences.

“CSHL respects the rights and dignity of all people and is committed to increasing ethnic and gender diversity and inclusion. Racial bias has no place at the Laboratory or anywhere in science and its presence dangerously impedes the ability to advance science for the benefit of society,” the lab said.

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