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Neil Hunter Will Deliver the Paul Doty Lecture on December 1, 2022

Neil Hunter Will Deliver the Paul Doty Lecture on December 1, 2022

The Doty Lecture is presented annually to celebrate the scientific and public policy achievements of Professor Paul Doty, eminent investigator of polymers, notably including studies of polypeptides, proteins and nucleic acids.  Doty was seminal in creation of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, one precursor to the current Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and was founder of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University (below).

This year, Professor Neil Hunter will present the Doty Lecture, titled “Cohesin and Chromosome Segregation in Oocytes”, on Thursday, December 1, at 12 pm in room B-103 of the Northwest Building.   Professor Matthew Meselson will give a brief introductory perspective on Paul Doty.

Dr. Hunter’s work addresses fundamental mechanisms of meiosis, the modified cellular program by which a diploid cell provides haploid gametes for sexual reproduction.  He investigates the central unique feature of this process, a complex series of  interactions between homologous chromosomes which allows their regular segregation into gametes and underlies the genetic shuffling required for evolution.  Dr. Hunter is the world leader in his field.  Using diverse approaches for synergistic studies in budding yeast and mammalian systems, he has elucidated the molecular bases of recombination mechanisms and regulation, at the biochemical and cellular levels, in interplay with chromosome structure.  He has also linked these studies to understanding central features of mammalian oogenesis including quality control and effects of aging and obesity, as he will discuss in his lecture.

The foundations for Dr. Hunter’s work were laid during PhD studies with Rhona Borts at Oxford University, where he demonstrated that speciation in budding yeast involves rejection of recombination interactions involving DNA mismatches, and post-doctoral work at Harvard in the laboratory of Nancy Kleckner, where he used physical and genetic analysis in yeast to elucidate the bifurcating pathway of DNA events that underlies the classical phenomenon of crossover interference.  Dr. Hunter is currently Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Chair for Designated Emphasis in Reproductive Biology, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at the University of California, Davis.

by Nancy Kleckner


Paul Doty was the Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry Emeritus and also Director, Emeritus, of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which he founded at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1974.  As a biochemist, Doty elucidated the structure and function of large molecules, ranging from the polymers in plastics and fibers, to polypeptides and polynucleotides. He is perhaps best known for demonstrating the denaturation of the double-stranded DNA molecule and its reuniting through hybridization, a technique that helped open the era of recombinant DNA research.
As an advocate for arms control, Doty led and participated in many initiatives to bring Russian and American scientists together in pursuit of international security, making more than 40 trips to the Soviet Union. He was a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) during the Kennedy Administration. After retirement, he continued his work in this area, including serving as a board member of the Soros International Science Foundation that provided critical research support to Russian scientists in the 1990s. He passed away on December 5, 2011.

Paul Mead Doty (1920-2011) Science Retrospective, PDF

by Matthew Meselson




Neil Hunter

Neil Hunter