The Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program (STPP) of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs was founded in 1976 by the late Dr. Harvey Brooks who had been the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics Emeritus at Harvard's Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS) where he had served as Dean from 1957–1975. He had also been the Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy Emeritus at the Harvard Kennedy School and widely recognized as the senior statesman of science and technology policy studies in the United States.
Dr. Brooks was succeeded as Director of STPP in 1986 by Dr. Lewis Branscomb, formerly Chief Scientist at International Business Machines (IBM) and Director of the National Bureau of Standards and now Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management Emeritus. Dr. Branscomb was succeeded by Dr. John P. Holdren from University of California, Berkeley, in 1996. Dr. Holdren stepped down as STPP Director to become President Barack Obama's senior advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in January 2009. In April 2009, Professor Venkatesh Narayanamurti, who had just stepped down as Dean of Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), succeeded Dr. Holdren as director of the program.