Don Caspar on Time Spent at Harvard
  Don Caspar     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jan 2001

I had arrived [at Harvard] in August of 1955 and I left it was the twenty-third of May, 1956. So, that was just the same period that Jim [Watson] was there. Alfred Tissieres joined Jim at Harvard and Jim was—he was staying in Paul Doty’s house while Paul was away and that was the time that he and Alfred had started to work on ribosomes, that were not called ribosomes yet, ribonucleic protein particles. I was trying to do some rather fruitless experiments with X-ray scattering on ribosomes at Yale, but I did see quite sort of quite a bit of Jim and Alfred in Cambridge. I moved to the Tumorous Cancer Research Foundation (??) 1958 and Alfred and Virginia [Tissieres] were off I guess to some extent to stay back in Switzerland, so I stayed in their apartment in Cambridge while they were away. [During] that period, I still kept in pretty close touch with Jim—what was going on in his laboratory.

I was back in Cambridge just about every year up until—I—I think, I tended to spend the summer in Cambridge part of the time in Cambridge up until 1975 I think it was only one-year in-between that we weren’t there.

Donald Caspar, structural biologist and crystallographer, is a professor emeritus of Biological Sciences at the Institute of Molecular Biophysics at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida and is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Born on January 8, 1927, he received his B.A. in Physics from Cornell University in 1950, and his his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Yale University in 1955. Caspar is interested in protein adaptability, virus assembly, protein plasticity and x-ray diffraction. He currently researches the mechanics of protein movements by executing structural studies.

He has attended many symposia at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, starting in 1961, and worked with Watson at Caltech and Harvard. He is a member of the National Academy of Science. Dr. Casper is a long-time friend and colleague of Dr. James D. Watson as well as many of the early pioneers in molecular biology, including Dr. Rosalind Franklin.