Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island in New York was founded in 1890. The institution has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory today employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists.
In the early years of the twentieth century Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was the epicenter of research on eugenics. In 1968 James D. Watson was named director and served as president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for 35 years. Dr. Watson who won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for his discovery of the structure of DNA, resigned in 2007 after he commented in a London newspaper that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect for Africa because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours.” He said that it would be nice to believe that everybody is equal but “people who deal with Black employees find this not true.” Dr. Watson was relieved of administrative duties but continued to hold positions as chancellor emeritus and professor emeritus.
On January 2, 2019, a documentary on the Public Broadcasting System featured Dr. Watson. In this documentary, he reiterated his views on the intelligence of Black people. In an interview, Dr. Watson said that “there’s a difference on the average between Blacks and Whites in IQ tests, I would say the difference is genetic.”
This prompted Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to strip Dr.Watson of his honorary titles. In a statement, the Laboratory wrote that the statements Dr. Watson made in the documentary “are completely and utterly incompatible with our mission, values, and policies and require the severing or any remaining vestiges of his involvement.”