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Proposed Chinese cancer mega-center named after Nobel laureate James Watson may refocus on precision medicine

| | April 16, 2018

James Watson, the Nobel laureate who turns 90 this week, was front and center on a red-carpeted stage before an enormous rendering of a [Chinese] futuristic complex dubbed The Cheerland-Watson Center for Life Sciences and Technology, intended to rival prestigious biomedical research centers in the West.

Despite the glitzy ceremony, which included an evening-gown clad announcer and a half-day conference on precision medicine, the ambitious effort is raising eyebrows—and doubts. “I left Shenzhen rather pessimistic that the institute would ever be built,” says Watson, who wonders whether the necessary funding will materialize. The research agenda is also veering away from what he expected.

Buyer plans to return Nobel medal to James Watson
James Watson

Watson was intrigued. “I thought China might be the place to develop cheaper drugs,” he says. He also thought that “China may be the future, so I wanted to see it.”

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Watson thought the center would focus on cancer drug discovery. But an announcement on the website of Shenzhen’s Dapeng New District, where the center is located, makes one mention of cancer cell immunotherapy, while identifying “precision medicine” as a main focus.

“I wish these people luck,” says Watson, who will keep working with CheerLand for the time being. But “I don’t think this particular effort is going to happen unless somebody comes forward with a lot of money.”

Read full, original post: DNA legend James Watson gave his name to a Chinese research center. Now, he’s having second thoughts

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