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Craig Venter, the first person to put his full genetic code on the Internet (2007), was involved in mapping the human genome at the same time as The National Human Genome Research Institute. Dr Venter, who gave the BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture in December 2007, predicted that it would become relatively common in the future for an individual to have their genome sequenced as part of a health profile.

James Watson, who together with Francis Crick, discovered the structure of DNA in 1953, became the second person to publish his personal genome sequence online. Watson's genome, sequenced jointly by the Baylor College of Medicine Genome Sequencing Center, 454 Life Sciences Technology, and Rothberg Institute, was put online by the Cold Spring Habor Laboratory in 2007.

An analysis of Dr Watson's genome, produced by deCODE Genetics and published by The Sunday Times on 9 December 2007, showed a European ancestral percentage of 73% as well as African and Asian percentages.

James Dewey Watson was born in Chicago in 1928. His father's family, of English descent, had lived in the USA for several generations. On the maternal side of his family, his grandfather was born in Scotland and his grandmother's family, of Irish descent, had lived in the US since the 1840s.

In 1962 James Watson shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his British colleagues Francis Crick and New Zealand-born Maurice Wilkins: "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material". Watson and Crick worked out the structure of DNA and Wilkins carried out X-ray studies that established the correctness of their proposal for DNA structure.

In 1988 Watson became the Head of the National Institute of Health's Human Genome Project (later to become the National Human Genome Research Institute) which aimed to identify all the genes in human DNA and determine the sequences of chemical base pairs that make up human DNA. He remained in the post until 1992.

James Watson also worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) for forty years. On 25 October 2007 Dr Watson retired as Chancellor of CSHL, following controversial remarks made earlier in the month.

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