updated 10/25/2007 10:41:34 AM ET 2007-10-25T14:41:34

James Watson, the Nobel laureate who sparked an international furor last week with comments about intelligence levels among blacks, has retired from his post at a prestigious research institution.

Watson, 79, and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York announced his departure Thursday. Watson was chancellor of the institution, and his retirement was effective immediately.

Watson was widely condemned last week for remarks he made in the Sunday Times Magazine of London on Oct. 14. A profile quoted him as saying that he's "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours _ whereas all the testing says not really."

He said that while he hopes everyone is equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true." He also said people should not be discriminated against on the basis of color, because "there are many people of color who are very talented."

He later apologized.

In his statement Thursday, Watson said that because of his age, his retirement was "more than overdue. The circumstances in which this transfer is occurring, however, are not those which I could ever have anticipated or desired."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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