Professor Wu about DNA structure

Tai Te Wu was born in 1935 in Shanghai, China. Education: University Hong Kong, University Illinois ВуКнига(Urbana), Harvard University (Cambridge, 1959). Ph.D. in Engineering, Harvard University (1961). Professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, biomedical engineering in Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) since 1994. Research interests: structural and functional relations of proteins and DNA. The author of the monograph ANALYTICAL MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (2001) and many articles.

Since the late 1960s, he has been one of the most active critics of the Watson-Crick DNA model, seeking an alternative structure; in 2006 published a little book (with autobiographical inclusions) on this subject:

Best Scientific Discovery or Worst Scientific Fraud of the 20th Century

(Trivandrum, Kerala, India: Research Signpost, 2006)

I was surprised not finding in the book any mention of the Side-by-Side model, which caused a lot of noise in the 70s. Such a narrow view does not improve the quality of his issue. Nevertheless, there are many interesting considerations in it.

As wrote his colleague Prof. You Cheng Xu, `Tai Te Wu, a tenured professor of Cornell Medical College was compelled to switch his study from DNA to immunology simply because his research questioning the validity of the double helix and subsequently lost his grant. Evidently, anyone trying to question the legitimacy of the double helix needs not only enough courage and knowledge but also needs an open-minded society allowing the performance of independent experimentation and expression of heretical opinions`.

Below I present excerpts from Wu`s book.


 …I was introduced to the DNA double helix by a professor of biology at M.I.T. originally trained as a nuclear physicist. He told me that DNA reproduced by semi-conservative replication, i.e. the two intertwined strands had to be unwound, copied and the two daughter molecules rewound together to form two double helices. As a physicist, he also said that the processes of unwinding and rewinding occurred in a highly viscous medium of the cell nucleus, would require a tremendous amount of energy, and generate a massive amount of heat. Furthermore, he told me that many biologically viable DNA molecules were intact circles of DNA double helices. The problem of unwinding and rewinding of such circles was complicated if not impossible.

At that time, my knowledge of DNA secondary structure was minimal. I have decided to spend some of my scientific careers looking into this intriguing problem of fundamental biological importance. I had to learn some biology, as well as chemistry, physics, and mathematics, in order to understand the basic physical method of X-ray diffraction used in the determination of the DNA double helix. Fortunately, I did not devote my entire career on this work, since otherwise I would have been eliminated from research in a hurry by the establishment. I never received a single cent from any granting agency, whether federal or private, for this work.

Eventually, I had to consult my son studying biology in high school to obtain a simple solution to the intriguing puzzle proposed to me by the M.I.T. professor. The price we had to pay was quite dear. I have been considered as a heretic even after I became a tenured professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology. My son decided to interrupt his college education after his freshman year. Why? As one of my good friends once commented, «You are lucky. They did not put you to jail nor execute you». Hopefully, my son and I can survive, and the truth about the DNA secondary structure will eventually prevail. <…>


As some scientists have pointed out that scientific mistakes or frauds will be self-correcting. That may be so. However, the period during which fraud is considering as the truth as long as more than half a century in the present case can be extremely detrimental. Recourses are wasted. Brilliant minds are discarded. Progress is halted. All of this for what? <…>