Paul Doty on Meeting Jim Watson
  Paul Doty     Biography    
Recorded: 22 Jul 2003

I met him in 1952 in the Eagle in Cambridge and spent a couple of days there and got to know Watson and Crick. And this was before they were famous.

…you could see in Jim the sense that if this is likely to be the carrier of the code we better work on this and nothing else.

Well, in 1954 he spent the summer at Woods Hole and also Matt Meselson did. And I was there quite a bit. So the three of us got to know each other then. And he came and visited my lab and we got to know each other. And I could see that he was unhappy going back to Caltech and he was the kind of sparkplug we needed here for the molecular wars that were to come. So I did everything I could to get him here.

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.