MWS 2004 was a reprise of MWS 2003, in terms of the celebration of the double helix golden jubilee (see MWS 2003).
The Distinguished Service Awardee was Sir Aaron Klug, past President of the Royal Society and winner of the Chemistry Nobel Prize in 1984, for the development of crystallographic electron microscopy. Later, he discovered zinc fingers.
The first Lifetime Achievement Awardee was Maclyn McCarty, the only surviving member of the trio of Avery, McCleod and MCCarty, who, in 1944, had reported that the transforming factor that causes non-pathogenic bacteria to become lethal is DNA .
For this, next year, the Royal Society awarded Avery a medal.
But elsewhere, the idea was ridiculed. The Nobel Foundation later apologized for not awarding a Prize to the trio. The idea that fueled the search for the structure of DNA.
In celebration of the jubilee, the BBC had created an exhibition, to tour Canada and the USA, staying for a few weeks at a time at key centers.
Via the British Consul General in Miami, we were able to convince the BBC that the University of Miami was such a key center, and the exhibition was installed in the Chemistry Department foyer at Coral Gables.
The timing was perfect. MWS 2004 time.
On Wednesday evening of the MWS, in the Chemistry lecture theater, Klug presided at the opening and electrified the audience by introducing McCarty.
Klug went on to describe his personal knowledge of the quartet who had unveiled DNA. Watson, CricK, Wilkins and Franklin.
For ten years, Klug had been the Director of
the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where Watson and Crick worked. He had been a postdoc with Franklin after she left left Wilkins.
The audience was spellbound. They had come to see an exhibition, but were seeing the actual players.
The BBC had made a good choice in the University of Miami.
Then, with a glass of wine in hand, we strolled around the exhibits.
A night to remember.
McCarty died exactly one year later , at the age of 93. He is shown here, receiving an award and being congratulated by Watson and Crick.