James Watson (l) and Matt Meselson
Geneticist Matthew Meselson, PhD, has received the Double Helix Medal from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for “extraordinary contributions to molecular biology and public policy.”
Meselson, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard, received the award at the Ninth Annual Double Helix Medals Dinner Nov. 12 in New York City.
The award, established in 2006 recognizes “exceptional individuals who have dedicated their lives to raising awareness of the importance of genetics research for improving the health of people everywhere.”
Along with Meselson, 2014 Double Helix Medals were presented to actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas and Andrew Solomon, a writer and lecturer. Previous science recipients include Nobel Prize laureates Richard Axel, Phillip Sharp, Harold Varmus and James Watson.
The mention of “public policy” in Meselson’s award citation refers to his long involvement in efforts to ban the possession and use of chemical and biological weapons. He has served as a consultant on this subject to numerous government agencies. Meselson is co-director of the Harvard Sussex Program on CBW Armament and Arms Limitation and co-editor of its quarterly journal, The CBW Conventions Bulletin.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on New York’s Long Island is one of the world’s leading research institutions in molecular genetics and biology. James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, was CSHL director from 1968 to 1993.
Meselson together with Franklin Stahl made a landmark contribution to DNA science shortly after its molecular structure was proposed by Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. The Meselson-Stahl experiment in 1957 confirmed the method by which the double helix is reproduced during cell division. Their experiment helped convince other scientists that the Watson – Crick Model of DNA was correct.
In the following years, Meselson and colleagues made a number of discoveries about DNA and genes that advanced the field of molecular biology. He is currently focusing his research on the role of sexual reproduction in evolution, and on the biology of aging.