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Dr James Watson

Irish American scientist who discovered DNA says cancer could be cured in a decade

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Dr James Watson

Dr. James Watson, one of the Nobel laureates credited with unlocking the structure of DNA, announced at the Euroscience Open Forum in Dublin on Thursday that four out of five cancer cases will be curable within the next ten years, the Daily Mail reported.

At the Euroscience Forum on Thursday, Watson said that researchers’ attitudes remain an obstacle.

“People doing cancer research don’t try to know everything, they don’t seem to be willing to take chances,” he said at the forum. “We think they must be really clever people - no, they’re not! But they are no worse than other people.”

Watson also said he thinks the early detection of cancer just adds worry - and medical bills.

“I think you just want to be able to cure it at the end and not worry about the beginning, and it’s cheaper,” he said at the forum.

Watson implied that having women in science is distracting for men, making them “less effective” - a touchy statement given that Watson and Dr Francis Crick allegedly used Rosalind Franklin’s data without her permission to generate their Nobel-winning hypothesis, and credited her minimally in their original paper.

In fact, Watson said that while working on the DNA structure, “I was just lucky there were no women there.”

The thing we never thought of [before]  is that cancer is a sort of failure of differentiation,” Watson told IrishCentral in March 2011. Watson is Irish American and was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame last year. 

“I’m sure we can cure most major cancers,” he told IrishCentral last year. “But we have to work differently.”

Watson’s grandmother came from Tipperary, and in the course of his scientific career, he has accepted degrees from Trinity College and the universities of Limerick and Cork, he told IrishCentral.

His favourite possession is a painting by Bobby Ballagh, whom he calls Ireland’s best artist, that depicts Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, he said in the interview with IrishCentral. Ballagh also painted Watson’s portrait, which Watson has donated to Trinity College Dublin.

“I wanted it to be in Trinity so people realise that I’m as much Irish as I am Scottish,” he said.

Watson follows Irish news, he told IrishCentral. On the topic of the economic crisis in Ireland, he expressed faith in the Irish people to weather the storm.

“Ireland will survive,” he said. “They are a tough people and have survived much worse. I’m sure of that. They are a wonderful people.”

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