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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, May 1992; 4(1)

Watson Steps Down As NCHGR Director

Cancer Researcher Michael Gottesman Appointed Acting Director

James D. Watson resigned on April 10 from his position as Director of the NIH National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR) and will return full time to his duties as Director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). Watson had been NCHGR Director since October 1, 1989.

In a letter of resignation presented to NIH Director Bernadine Healy, Watson wrote, "I have considered it a great pleasure and opportunity to have served at the National Institutes of Health in this capacity. I remain firmly committed to the success of the Human Genome Project."

Accepting the resignation, Healy said, "We have been fortunate to have had [Watson's] expertise and scientific judgment, which have been invaluable to the establishment of the National Center for Human Genome Research."

In October 1988 Watson was appointed by James Wyngaarden, then NIH Director, to help guide NIH human genome research in the part-time position of Associate Director for Human Genome Research. When NCHGR was established, Watson became its Director, a part-time position he held along with his CSHL post. He planned to remain in the NCHGR position until its scientific programs were well established and running smoothly.

At the January meeting of the Program Advisory Committee on the Human Genome, Watson commented that he was pleased with the progress of NCHGR and would begin thinking about an appropriate time to step down, probably within the year. In his resignation statement Watson said, "Performing the substantial duties as Director of the National Center for Human Genome Research while simultaneously serving as Director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island has proved to be increasingly difficult and burdensome to myself and my family. In light of this burden, I have discussed with a number of friends and colleagues over the last several months my intention to leave the project and return full time to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory."

Healy appointed molecular geneticist and cancer researcher Michael Gottesman to serve as NCHGR Acting Director while the search for a replacement is under way. Gottesman is Chief of the National Cancer Institute Laboratory of Cell Biology, where he studies the resistance of cancer cells to anticancer drugs. Gottesman codiscovered the MDR1 gene, which encodes a membrane protein responsible for transporting substances, including cancer drugs, out of cells.

Gottesman received his M.D. degree magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School and is board certified in internal medicine. He has held research positions since 1971. He is a member of several professional societies, including the Genetics Society of America, the American Society for Cell Biology, the American Society for Microbiology, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the American Association for Cancer Research. Gottesman received the 1990 Milken Family Medical Foundation Cancer Research Award and the 1992 Rosenthal Award for Cancer Research.


Reported by Leslie Fink, Office of Communications, NIH, NCHGR

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v4n1).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.