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James D. Watson 88—the discovery of the double helix was an iconic event in structural chemistry

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Abstract

The ingenuity of James D. Watson and Francis Crick, the convergence of the advances in X-ray crystallography, the accumulated knowledge of structural chemistry, and the breakthroughs in chemical methods of analysis led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. The discovery catapulted Watson to a career that helped DNA and the applications of the knowledge about its structure triumph in biomedical sciences. Watson’s eighty-eighth birthday is an occasion to have a look at his path to success, his personality, and assess his legacy.

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Acknowledgments

Magdi and I are grateful to Jim and Liz Watson for their friendship and hospitality extended to us over the years. I thank Robert Weintraub and Irwin Weintraub of Beersheva for critical reading of the manuscript and for helpful suggestions.

Author information

Correspondence to Istvan Hargittai.

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Dedication

This Editorial is dedicated to the great scientific partnership of Francis Crick and James D. Watson on the occasion of Francis Crick’s birth centennial and Watson’s 88th birthday.

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Cite this article

Hargittai, I. James D. Watson 88—the discovery of the double helix was an iconic event in structural chemistry. Struct Chem 27, 419–428 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11224-015-0688-3

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Keywords

  • James D. Watson
  • Double helix
  • Francis Crick
  • DNA
  • Human Genome Project