Paul Doty, 1920-2011

| Dec. 05, 2011

Paul Doty, the founder of the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, died today at the age of 91.

Paul Doty devoted his life to harnessing science for peaceful and productive service to mankind, and averting nuclear war. He spent more than 40 years as a Harvard chemistry professor, founding the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He built a world-renowned lab with his wife, Helga Boedtker. He recruited James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, and his lab contributed to breakthroughs that culminated in the Human Genome Project. Fourteen of Doty's 100 research students were later elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He also launched two science journals that remain leaders in their fields as well as the much-cited journal International Security.

As a young chemist at Columbia, Doty worked on the Manhattan Project, planting the seed for his future work combining science and arms control. He traveled to the then-Soviet Union more than 40 times to work with Soviet scientists to promote disarmament. He was closely involved in the Pugwash Conferences, which later shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

Graham Allison, former dean of the Kennedy School and director of the Belfer Center, advised colleagues today of Doty’s passing:

“I write to inform you of the death of our founding Director, friend, and colleague, Paul Doty, who passed peacefully this morning.  Paul was a great man who had a great life and who made huge contributions to many of us personally, to the institutions of which we are a part, and to the purposes we care about.

As we celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2010 I noted that he was a “serial institutional builder” having entrepreneured not only today’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, but prior to that Harvard’s biochemistry department.

Paul was a lifelong peacemaker, building bridges between Soviet and American scientists and promoting nuclear disarmament since the 1950s—work that helped the Pugwash Conferences earn the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.”

For additional information about Paul Doty, see the following:


For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Paul Doty, 1920-2011.” News, , December 5, 2011.