Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology

PAUL DOTY 1920-2011

by Guido Guidotti

December 6th, 2011


Paul Doty

Paul Doty, Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs died at home on 5 December 2011 at the age of 91 : he had a huge impact on science and international affairs.

In science, his interest in polymers led him to study the structure of proteins and nucleic acids. The temperature denaturation of DNA with separation of the strands, which upon cooling annealed to reform the original molecule, was one of his seminal discoveries. He realized early on that the future of biological science was in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology and endeavored to bring these disciplines to Harvard.

He participated in the formation of the Committee on Higher Degrees in Biochemistry for the training of graduate students, he arranged for Jim Watson to be appointed in the Department of Biology to initiate the effort in molecular biology, and he was the chief architect in the formation of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology which rose to great distinction.

Paul developed his interests in international affairs while a graduate student in chemistry at Columbia University, where he worked on the Manhattan Project.

From that time he endeavored to promote peace through knowledge and teaching of international affairs, an effort that culminated in his founding what is now the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

He is remembered with great affection and admiration by his colleagues as a person with a sense of humor who was far-sighted and successfully strove to improve the world around him.

Read more in Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, HARVARDgazette, Wikipedia, Science

[December 6th, 2011]