Latest Issue

The DNA of cancer

Nobel laureate James Watson tells Bronwen Maddox that science is close to understanding how cancer grows—and might be cured

By Bronwen Maddox   April 2011

“I feel about cancer as I did about DNA in 1952,” said James Watson. “That is, that we have a realistic chance of big success, but we really have to keep at it.” Asked what people should expect of genetic research in the next ten years, he said firmly: “A cure for cancer.”

Watson, together with Francis Crick, discovered nearly 60 years ago that the structure of DNA, the molecule that carries genetic information from one generation to the next, took the form of a double helix. Their publication of that conclusion in April 1953 won them, together with Maurice…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect