Nobel prize-winning American molecular biologist James Watson, the 83-year-old "father of DNA", who made an address on Friday before a large audience, mainly composed of students, at the central auditorium of the "Dimokritos" research centre, said "I want to see the cure for cancer as long as I am alive."

The biologist, who has now turned his attention to cancer an issue which, as he said, is preoccupying him for over 60 years, expressed optimism that in five to 10 years there shall be considerable progress in the therapy of at least certain forms of cancer, with the help of research in genes and stem cells.

Watson made extensive historic references to the course of the discovery of the "double propeller" (the DNA molecule) by him and his associate Briton Francis Crick, at the laboratories of the Cambridge university, in 1953. He also gave advice to young people and candidate researchers, based on his prolonged experience, stressing in particular the value of collective work and cooperation with scientists of various specialities.

Education minister condemns incident

In a related development, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Friday strongly condemned an incident caused by hooded self-styled anarchist youth a day earlier. One of the hooded youths attempted to charge against the octogenarian Watson during a lecture at a University of Patras auditorium on Thursday evening.

“We should go beyond the self-evident condemnation of the insult directed to Medicine and Physiology Nobel laureate James Watson,” she said, adding that the deplorable incident should be “the spark to awaken consciousnesses”.

Diamantopoulou issued the statement in response to an attack by a hooded individual on Watson, one of the discoverers of DNA, who had been invited to give a lecture at the university of Patras.

“The response to the hood-wearing fascism that threatens scientific expression and fundamental academic freedoms with raw violence should be the people’s activation and conscious action in dealing with the problems faced by the Greek universities. The circumstances call for tangible and broad-based consensus for radical and in-depth changes,” she stressed.