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Paul Doty

Paul Doty

Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

 

Experience

Paul Doty died on December 5, 2011 at the age of 91.

Paul Doty was the Founder and Director Emeritus of the Center for Science and International Affairs (later called the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs) and Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry at Harvard University, and he was an emeritus member of the Belfer Center Board of Directors.

During his forty-two years on the Harvard University faculty, Doty embraced two careers: one in biochemistry, where he founded the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the other in science policy and international security studies, where he founded the Center for Science and International Affairs in 1973. He was named emeritus professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1988 and in the Kennedy School of Government in 1990.

Doty's research focus was on the structure and functioning of large molecules progressively moving from polymeric molecules which constitute plastics and fibers, to polypeptides and polynucleotides which consist of single repeating units of the kind involved in proteins and nucleic acids and then on to proteins and nucleic acids. Early studies developed means of determining the size and weight of polymeric molecules in solution. This was followed by showing that the folding of the single polymeric peptide chain that make up a protein was of three types and that the amounts of each could be determined by optical means.

DNA, the carrier of the code that directs living forms, which had been shown to consist of two chains in the form of a double helix, was shown to maintain this structure in solution. However, when subjected to abnormal conditions (higher temperatures) the double helical molecules would "melt" (denature) at a specific temperature abruptly releasing two strands from each other. Perhaps the best known work of Doty's laboratory was the further demonstration that the two separated strands could be reunited (hybridized) in register thereby reforming the original double-stranded, biologically active molecule. This technique of hybridization became the basis of forming new, not previously occurring, forms of DNA (recombinant DNA) and of determining the sequence of the four units that make up nucleic acid strands culminating in the Human Genome Project.

The structure of RNA, the single-stranded polynucleotide chain that transfers the code from DNA to the site of protein synthesis, was shown to have connections among different parts of the same chain and hence to be reduced in size in solution over that expected for an unrestricted single chain. These restrictions were found to be short regions of double helical configuration and the extent of this internal hybridization could be determined by the optical methods worked out for DNA melting.

Substantial advances were made on the structure of collagen (the major building unit of skin and cartilage) and its gene. The molecule was shown to consist of a triple stranded helix that also displayed a critical denaturation temperature and existed as a rod-shaped molecule of a certain length, hence the building block in skin and other tissues. The structure of the gene encoding collagen was determined in the early 1980s. It displayed numerous interruptions (introns), a record for genes examined at that time. This work was collaboration with his wife, Helga Boedtker, who joined in the management of the laboratory for nearly four decades.

From data collected on the occassion of Doty's eightieth birthday, the influence of his laboratory became apparent. He supervised the research theses of 66 undergraduates and graduates of whom 44 became professors and 10 have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Of the 85 post-doctoral fellows that worked in his laboratory, 36 became professors.

During this time he was a leader in his chosen profession founding together with Herman Mark the Journal of Polymer Science (1945) and with four others the Journal of Molecular Biology (1959). From 1950 to 1968 Doty was a tenured professor in the Department of Chemistry during which time he helped recruit several leading biochemists, in particular James Watson. In 1968 he founded the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and served as its first chairman. Doty played an increasing role both at Harvard in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts. and Sciences. For example, he served as chairman of a faculty committee to review General Education, as a Senior Fellow in the Society of Fellows (1963-80) and on various committees of the two academies.

Doty's second career had its origins in his graduate student days at Columbia. During this time he worked on isotope separation at the beginning of the Manhattan Project and attended courses by its leaders: Fermi, Rabi, Teller, and Urey. In 1957 he served as chairman of the Federation of American Scientists and attended the first unofficial meeting of nuclear scientists in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. Here he made contact with Soviet counterparts and decided that there was a niche to be filled by promoting informed examination of the technical aspects related to avoiding nuclear war outside official channels.

In 1958 he made his first of what would come to be 42 trips to the Soviet Union mostly in pursuit of this goal. A year later he became consultant to the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) helping on the formulation of nuclear arms controls proposals and in 1960 became a full member. In the same year he undertook two initiatives. One was to form in the National Academy of Sciences a Committee to promote and oversee the exchange of Soviet and American scientists for research purposes and to organize two large scale Pugwash Conferences, one in Moscow (1960), the other in the U.S. (1961). These conferences established, for the first time that unofficial international discussions among scientists on nuclear problems and scientific collaboration could play a useful role despite the polarization of the Cold War. A by-product of these meetings was the development of a friendship with several leading Soviet scientists, especially Peter Kapitza.

By 1964 Doty redirected most of his efforts from the multilateral Pugwash conferences to form a bilateral Soviet- American Group co-chaired by Millionshchikov, first vice-president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, and himself. This group was widely thought to have contributed critically to inducing the Soviet Union to negotiate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty concluded in 1972. Having involved Kissinger in meetings of Pugwash and the Soviet-American group, Doty chaired an informal advisory group to Kissinger when he became Special Assistant to the President for National Security. He continued as a consultant to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and later became a member of the President's Arms Control Advisory Group.

In 1971 Doty began a series of annual summer workshops on arms control at the Aspen Institute in Colorado. He served as chairman until 1984 when its leadership was transferred to William Perry, Brent Scowcroft and Joseph Nye and renamed the Aspen Strategy Group. It continues to thrive. Meanwhile in 1976, Doty became a Board member of the newly formed Aspen Institute Berlin where he initiated summer workshops on European Security.

At this time discussions began with McGeorge Bundy, then president of the Ford Foundation, which resulted in setting up several university centers to focus on international security. As a result the Center for Science and International Affairs was established at Harvard in 1973 with an endowment that had grown by 1979 to $6 million: Doty served as its Director on a half-time basis. In 1979 it became part of the new Kennedy School of Government. Among its most important contributions have been its policy-related research, and its training of more than a dozen scholars each year in international security studies. Its first assistant directors have gone on to distinguished careers, Albert Carnesale, Michael Mandlebaum, Michael Nacht and John Steinbruner. Doty established a course on the Nuclear Age at Harvard College and with Jack Ruina a summer school course at MIT for teachers of such courses. Doty founded and became editor of what has become the leading journal in the field, International Security.

The Center has grown under the directorships of Ashton Carter, Joseph Nye and Graham Allison: by expansion into other science policy fields it now consists of 100 members. The informal US-USSR dialogue on security issues expanded sharply in the 1970s: Doty was deeply involved in two of these - The Dartmouth Conferences and the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC). The Dartmouth Conferences aimed to bring leading citizens of the two countries together to discuss matters of potential conflict and economic cooperation. It began in 1960 at the suggestion of President Eisenhower and continued to meet annually in the alternate countries throughout the Cold War. Doty served on the Executive Committee and as chair of the Arms Control Task Force. The latter held separate meetings involving congressional, political and military leaders as well as nongovernmental specialists the results of which were reported to the annual Conferences. These efforts were thought to have contributed to lowering Cold War tensions and allowed important contacts to develop among those who would later become important officials, such as Scowcroft, Vance, Primakov (prime minister) and Kozyrev (foreign minister). The annual meetings between CISAC and the corresponding committee of the Soviet Academy of Science began in 1981 and followed a similar pattern but concentrated on technical aspects of nuclear arms control. Several Russian participants became principal advisers to Gorbachev. CISAC also worked on its own studies that often influenced government policy. After retirement Doty continued his work on international security issues and on Russian-American scientific relations, for example serving as board member of Soros' International Science Foundation that provided critical research support to Russian scientists in the 1990s.

 

Additional information about Paul Doty:

  • Paul Doty Photo Gallery
  • Belfer Center News: "Paul Doty 1920-2011"
  • 2010 Transcript: Paul Doty's 90th Birthday Party with Colleagues
  • 2010 Newsletter Article: "Celebrating Paul Doty at 90"
  • 2005 Newsletter Article: "Spotlight: Paul Doty"
  • Boston Globe Obituary
  • New York Times Obituary
  • Washington Post Obituary
  • Stephen Walt Tribute
  • Science Retrospective by Matthew Meselson: "Paul Mead Doty (1920-2011)"
  • FASEB Journal, Milestone by Thoru Pederson: "Paul Doty and the Modern Era of DNA as a Molecule" 
  • ASBMB Today, News  by Jacques R. Fresco: "Retrospective: Paul M. Doty (1920-2011)"
  • Paul Doty Memorial Service: Program and Speaker Remarks (May 4, 2012)
  • Online Forum in Memory of Paul Doty
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    By Date

     

    2010

    AP Photo

    Fall 2009

    "The Minimum Deterrent & Beyond"

    Journal Article, Daedalus, issue 4, volume 138

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

    "...[A] primary goal in the next decades must be to remove this risk of near global self-destruction by drastically reducing nuclear forces to a level where this outcome is not possible, but where a deterrent value is preserved — in other words, to a level of minimum deterrence. This conception was widely discussed in the early years of the nuclear era, but it drowned in the Cold War flood of weaponry. No matter how remote the risk of civilization collapse may seem now — despite its being so vivid only a few decades ago — the elimination of this risk, for this century and centuries to come, must be a primary driver for radical reductions in nuclear weapons."

     

    1999

    December 1999

    "The Forgotten Menace"

    Op-Ed, Nature, volume 402

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

    “The passage from one millennium to the next is a powerful stimulus to reflect on our most vital problems. Top of the list must be the legacy that this century bequeaths to the next and to the millennium beyond — the risk that the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons left over from the Cold War will bring an end to civilization,” warns Belfer Center founder Paul Doty writing in Nature magazine. “While many informed people felt this threat during the Cold War, a sense of relief from imminent danger has been the hallmark of the first post-Cold War decade. As the concern over a global apocalypse has subsided it has been replaced by the threat of the use of one or a few weapons by accident, by terrorists or by ‘rogue’ nations.”

     

    1991

    Winter 1991

    "Arms Control: 1960, 1990, 2020"

    Journal Article, Daedalus, issue 1, volume 121

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

    "Looking back over the three decades since arms control was codified in the nuclear age, it is clear that, both in concept and in practice, it has become a central feature of the military and political landscape. Nevertheless, it remains a conception in the service of policy, not an end in itself," writes Paul Doty in his analysis of the history and future of contemporary arms control.

     

    1987

    Spring 1987

    "A Nuclear Test Ban"

    Magazine or Newspaper Article, Foreign Affairs, issue 4, volume 65

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

    "Nuclear detonations are constant reminders of mankind's capacity for violence," Paul Doty, founder of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in a Foreign Affairs article arguing for a comprehensive test-ban (ctb) treaty, "it is not surprising that people and governments conclude that if this symptom of supreme violence were exorcised, the risk of nuclear war itself would diminish."

     

    1983

    April 13, 1983

    "Moral Dilemmas and Nuclear Strategy"

    Op-Ed, Christian Science Monitor

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus, Albert Carnesale, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Stanley Hoffmann, Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security, Samuel Huntington, Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor and Scott Sagan, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1981-1982; Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security

    "Can nuclear strategy and morality be compatible....[and] can initiating the use of nuclear weapons ever be morally justified?"" asks Harvard University's Nuclear Study Group in a Christian Science Monitor op-ed released.

     

    1979

    April 3, 1979

    "Why The Senate Should Rafity SALT II"

    Op-Ed, New York Times

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

    Writing in response to an op-ed published in the New York Times by Jeremy T. Stone, director of the Federation of American Scientists, Paul Doty, speaking on behalf of his F.A.S. colleagues, writes that "we do not believe that the goal of SALT, as purported by Stone, is the SALT process itself. We Believe that the objective of any SALT agreement must be the enhancement of security through progress in limiting strategic weapons. We are less concerned that the failure to ratify the SALT II treaty might have damaging effects of the SALT process than we are concerned that a failure to ratify will be an irreparable setback to the goal of getting the dangerous strategic arms race under control."

     

     

    April 2, 1979

    "A Defense of the SALT II Treaty"

    Op-Ed, Boston Globe

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

    Defending SALT II against “the increasingly familiar catalog of half-truths and flawed analyses by which many hardliners are seeking to frighten Americans, defeat SALT and inaugurate a military buildup far beyond our needs,” Paul Doty, founder of the Belfer Center, argues that “perhaps the most underappreciated feature of SALT II is the agreement...to limit the number of warheads per missile to the maximum number thus far tested on that type of missile. This reduces by more than half the number of weapons the Soviets could eventually have mounted on the ICBM’s and by doing so makes protective measures, such as multiple aim point systems for our own ICBM’s, possible.

     

     

    March 13, 1979

    "Underappreciated Features of SALT II"

    Op-Ed, Washington Post

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

    "Perhaps the most underappreciated feature of SALT II is the agreement recently reported to limit the number of war-heads per missile to the maximum number thus far tested on that type of missile," Belfer Center founder Paul Doty writes in a Washington Post op-ed. "This reduces by more than half the number of weapons the Soviets could eventually have mounted on their ICBMs, and by doing so makes protective measures such as multiple aim point systems (MAPS) for our own ICBMs possible."

     

    1978

    Winter 1978-1979

    "Arms Control Enters the Gray Area"

    Journal Article, International Security, issue 3, volume 3

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus and Robert Metzger, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1977-1978

    "If a Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty is reached and ratified, ceilings and subceilings will have been placed on the number of launchers from which the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. could attack each other over intercontinental distances," the Belfer Center's Paul Doty and Robert Metzger write in an International Security article, "Yet, progress in reductions could be an illusion if at least a start is not made in bringing weapons of lesser range under control. These are the gray area weapons that can reach targets 400 to 2,000 miles or more distant from the point of launch....These gray area weapons unconstrained by either SALT or MBFR consist of a wide array of medium bombers, fighter- bombers, carrier aircraft, intermediate and medium range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles."

     

    1976

    October 1976

    "The Race To Control Nuclear Arms"

    Magazine or Newspaper Article, Foreign Affairs, issue 1, volume 55

    By Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs; Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus, Michael Nacht, Former Associate Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 1973-1984 and Albert Carnesale, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

    In a 1976 article in Foreign Affairs, the Kennedy School's Albert Carnesale, Paul Doty and Michael Nacht argue that "As the nuclear age lengthens and the opportunity for viewing it in perspective grows, its essential features seem increasingly related to successive eight-year American presidential administrations. Measures to control nuclear weapons have been seriously considered in each of the first four postwar "octades," and there has been an acceleration in the number of agreements reached - most notably in limiting nuclear tests, slowing nuclear proliferation, restraining the quantitative growth of the Soviet and American nuclear arsenals, and restricting defenses against nuclear weapons."

     

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