Recorded: 22 Jul 2003
The curiosity about larger issues and how they get turned into policy. That was attractive. And in my younger days it was one of the burning issues was the nuclear weaponry and could it be controlled or not. And I had worked a bit on the Manhattan Project. And that brought me into contact with Russians and I spent a lot of time working out cooperative arrangements for research first and then discussion groups on nuclear arms control. So that perhaps took too much of my time. But it began with being inspired by Kennedy and being on his scientific advisory committee and feeling that things were possible. I think it’s a different atmosphere now. I hope it will change again, but it isn’t very attractive now as it was then.
Paul Doty (1920-2011), biophysical chemist and activist was an emeritus professor at Harvard University in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in the Kennedy School of Government. He was also founder of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. Experimenting with isotope separation as a graduate student at Columbia University, he became an advocate for nuclear war prevention. Subsequently, he served as a consultant to the President’s Science Advisory Committee and as a member of the President’s Arms Control Advisory Group.
Doty’s scientific research is focused on elucidating the structure and function of large molecules by optical methods. Responsible for hybridizing single strands of DNA to reform an active double-stranded molecule, his laboratory work helped provide the basis for DNA recombination.
Doty met Jim in 1952 in Cambridge. Four years later he had encouraged Jim to join the Harvard Faculty. Their combined insight and innovation was crucial in determining the fate of the newly created molecular biology department. Doty remained on the Harvard Faculty for over forty-two years.