Bruce Stillman, the laboratory’s president, said that the comments were Watson’s “own personal statements and in no way reflect the mission, goals, or principles of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Board, administration or faculty”.
Watson said he was sorry for the comments in an appearance at the Royal Society in London.
“I am mortified about what has happened,” he told a group of scientists and journalists. “I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways they have.
“To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologise unreservedly.
“That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief.”