James D. Watson, the eminent biologist who ignited an uproar last week with remarks about the intelligence of people of African descent, retired today as chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island and from its board.
In a statement, he noted that, at 79, he is "overdue" to surrender leadership positions at the lab, which he joined as director in 1968 and served as president until 2003. But he said the circumstances of his resignation "are not those which I could ever have anticipated or desired."
Dr. Watson, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for describing the double-helix structure of DNA, and later headed the American government's part in the international Human Genome Project, was quoted in The Times of London last week as suggesting that, overall, people of African descent are not as intelligent as people of European descent. In the ensuing uproar, he issued a statement apologizing "unreservedly" for the comments, adding "there is no scientific basis for such a belief."
But Dr. Watson, who has a reputation for making sometimes incendiary off-the-cuff remarks, did...