The Nobel laureate released a statement saying that at 79 he was "overdue" to step down as chancellor for the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, The New York Times reported.
Watson caused an uproar with remarks he made to a British newspaper suggesting that people of African descent tend to have lower intelligence. He canceled a British book tour, returned to the United States, and was suspended from his duties as chancellor at the lab.
Rockefeller University, which had awarded Watson its Lewis Thomas Prize, canceled a lecture there, although he will still get the award.
The lab will continue to provide Watson with an office, and he will continue to live in a house on laboratory property, a spokesman said.
Watson, as a young post-doctoral student at Cambridge, worked with Francis Crick to unravel the DNA molecule's structure. Watson, Crick and another British scientist, Maurice Wilkins, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962.