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John Watson

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Information about John Watson

Profile image of John Watson

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Biochemistry Professor
Biochemist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Lavender, Purple
Favorite Food:
Spicy Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Mid-May, Mid-June
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Zihuatanejo, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
5/21/1940
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Biochemistry Professor
Biochemist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Lavender, Purple
Favorite Food:
Spicy Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Mid-May, Mid-June
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Zihuatanejo, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
5/21/1940
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how John Watson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Biochemist and biochemistry professor John A. Watson was born on May 21, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois, the first of eight children. His mother, Catherine P. Berkley-Watson, was a homemaker and his father Hosea Watson, worked as a U.S. Postal Service supervisor. Watson grew up in Chicago’s south side, attending Oakland Public Elementary School and graduating from Parker High School in 1957. After studying at the University of Illinois Navy Pier, he was hired by the American Institute of Baking, where he worked as a research assistant in nutrition research. It was there that his interest in biochemical studies truly crystallized. Watson returned to college to receive his B.A. degree in biology with an option in biochemistry from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1964. After receiving a pre-doctoral USPH Fellowship from the University of Illinois, Chicago Medical Center, Watson earned his Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1967. With a post-Doctoral USPH Fellowship, Watson continued his two-year postdoctoral training at Brandeis University.

In 1969, Watson was hired by the University of California, San Francisco as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Medical school Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. Watson’s research focused on the regulation of metabolic pathways, particularly on the regulation of cholesterol and isopentenoid biosynthesis. He demonstrated that the apparent lack of control of cholesterol synthesis is not a marker for cancer cells, that essential non-sterol isopentenoid synthesis is a post-transcriptionally regulated process, and that excess mevalonic acid production in fruit fly cells is shunted through a novel degradation pathway. Watson became a full Professor of Biochemistry in 1984 and Professor Emeritus of the University of California, San Francisco in 2001.

Watson holds memberships in numerous renowned professional societies, including the American Association of Oil Chemists, the National Institute of Science, and the American Heart Association. He is also a founding member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Blacks in Biomedical Sciences. Winner of the 1985 Henry McBay Outstanding Teacher Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and the 1994 Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Watson has been recognized for his work as a research scientist as well as an educator.

John Watson is married to Valerie M. Watson, and they are the parents of four adult children: Lisa, Susan, Katherine, and John.

John Watson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 7, 2011.

See how John Watson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Watson's interview (part 1)
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of John Watson's interview (part 2)
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Watson shares his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Watson talks about his maternal great-grandfather, James Cornelius, part 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Watson discusses the Federal Writers' Project
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Watson discusses secrecy in his family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Watson describes Centralia, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John Watson talks about his maternal great-grandfather, James Cornelius, part 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John Watson shares his mother's childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Watson shares his father's family history
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Watson talks about his paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Watson shares his father's childhood experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Watson discusses his father's involvement in World War II
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Watson recalls de-facto segregation in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Watson describes growing up in the Ida B. Wells Housing Project in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Watson talks about the black community in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John Watson discusses his parents' personalities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Watson recalls his elementary school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Watson remembers exploring Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Watson describes his Gilbert chemistry set
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Watson recalls being robbed while selling the "Chicago Defender"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Watson describes the atmosphere at Parker High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Watson describes race relations in Chicago, Illinois during the 1950s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Watson recalls his experiences at Parker High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John Watson recalls the science he observed on TV as a youth
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Watson recalls not having any mentors in science growing up
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Watson discusses his classmates at Parker High School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Watson discusses his college years at University of Illinois, Navy Pier
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Watson talks about working at the American Institute of Baking, part 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Watson talks about working at the American Institute of Baking, part 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John Watson describes his experiences at Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John Watson talks his studies at University of Illinois, Chicago Medical Center
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Watson describes glyceraldehyde metabolism, part 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Watson describes glyceraldehyde metabolism, part 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Watson talks about his postdoctoral work at Brandeis University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Watson describes the changing nature of science
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Watson discusses his decision to work at the University of California, San Francisco
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Watson recalls the Civil Rights Movement and the push for minority faculty in educational institutions
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Watson describes his administrative duties at the University of California, San Francisco
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John Watson talks about NADPH-dependent reductase
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John Watson discusses cholesterol metabolism in hepatoma tumor cells
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John Watson discusses the scientific process and its impact on society
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John Watson describes his promotions at the University of California, San Francisco
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John Watson describes isopentenoids, part 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John Watson describes isopentenoids, part 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John Watson discusses halobacterium, part 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John Watson discusses halobacterium, part 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - John Watson discusses professional organizations for black chemists
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John Watson describes the benefits of working with halobacterium
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - John Watson discusses retiring as professor emeritus from the University of California, San Francisco, part 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - John Watson discusses retiring as professor emeritus from the University of California, San Francisco, part 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - John Watson explains that there are very few risky decisions in science
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - John Watson talks about some of his mentees from the University of California, San Francisco
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - John Watson shares his mentoring strategy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - John Watson discusses his hopes and concerns for the black communtiy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - John Watson reminisces over his life decisions
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - John Watson reflects on his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - John Watson discusses his hobbies and family
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - John Watson talks about his travels to Africa, part 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - John Watson recalls his initiation into the Orisa culture
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - John Watson talks about his travels to Africa, part 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - John Watson discusses the importance of oral history
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - John Watson discusses how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - John Watson shares advice for students interested in science, part 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - John Watson shares advice for students interested in science, part 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - John Watson describes his photos