University of Illinois Cancels Scientist Talk After Backlash

URBANA, Ill. — The University of Illinois has cancelled plans to host a talk by Nobel Laureate James Watson after faculty raised concerns about his discredited views on race and intelligence.

Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson tells The News-Gazette the center dropped plans to host the scientist before a date had even been set.

Watson co-discovered the structure of DNA and has a history of racially insensitive comments.

Robinson says Watson initially reached out to the institute to give a “narrowly focused scientific talk” about his cancer research in conjunction with a planned visit to a colleague’s lab.

Robinson says he wasn’t surprised by faculty members’ reaction but that he had told them the institute doesn’t condone Watson’s past comments.