Scope and Content of Collection
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla 92093-0175
Title: Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0077
87.4 Linear feet
(83 records cartons, 8 archives boxes, 16 oversize folders and 1 art bin item)
Date (inclusive): 1971 - 1998
Abstract: The records (1971-1998) of Dr. Russell F. Doolittle's biochemistry laboratory at the University of California, San Diego include
notebooks related to the first determination of the complete sequence of amino acids in the human fibrinogen molecule, paper
files for the amino acid sequences contained in the protein sequence data bank called NEWAT, as well as other research, correspondence
and Protein Society files.
Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records, MSS 0077. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.
Dr. Russell F. Doolittle, professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, headed a campus science laboratory
that conducts research in the evolutionary and structural aspects of proteins. In 1979, Doolittle's laboratory successfully
analyzed the structure of the amino acid sequence for the human fibrinogen molecule.
During that study, ten to twenty postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate researchers worked to pull apart and analyze the
amino acid sequences in the alpha, beta and gamma chains of fibrinogen. Doolittle adapted a peptide synthesizing machine to
break apart peptides and employed an amino acid analyzer to identify the sequences.
The peptide synthesizer, which was the second peptide synthesizer ever constructed, was modeled on the prototype designed
by Bruce Merrifield, then of Rockefeller University. Merrifield was later awarded the Nobel Prize for the design of the machine.
The UCSD machine was constructed in 1964 at the instigation of Martin Kamen, a member of the Chemistry faculty. Professor
Kamen had seen Merrifield's machine and, on his return to UCSD, asked Arthur Robinson, a graduate student in the Chemistry
Department, to oversee construction of the machine. Robinson journeyed back to New York to examine Merrifield's machine more
closely and then, after returning to UCSD, began constructing the UCSD machine.
After a period of time, the machine was converted into a peptide sequencer. Instead of building up peptides one amino acid
at a time, it would take them apart one amino acid at a time. In 1979, the machine was used to make the first determination
of the complete amino acid sequence for the human fibrinogen molecule, which is composed of 2,934 amino acids.
Doolittle also constructed a protein sequence data bank called NEWAT. Sequences identified in the published literature were
entered into an electronic database and new sequences were searched against known sequences. In 1983, Doolittle used the data
bank to link separate research efforts at the Center for Blood Research in Boston and the National Cancer Institute in Washington,
D. C. He related a known cancer gene to a gene with a known function in human cells.
Doolittle participated in the Protein Society as a member and as one of the editorial board that oversaw the society publication,
Scope and Content of Collection
ACCESSION PROCESSED IN 1997
The Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records document the activities of a UCSD science laboratory engaged in research
on the structure of the human fibrinogen molecule. The materials are arranged in three series: 1) NEWAT, 2) LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS
and 3) AMINO ACID SEQUENCER.
SERIES 1: NEWAT
The NEWAT series contains journal articles, printouts and summary data reports for individual amino acid sequences that were
entered into the electronic data bank. The series begins with a list that relates the folder title acronym to the name and
the journal citation for each amino acid sequence. The materials are arranged alphabetically by acronym.
SERIES 2: LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS
The LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS series contains notebooks by individual postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate researchers who
worked on the project. Also included are notebooks that contain amino acid analysis charts and high performance liquid chromotography
charts. The notebooks are arranged by name of researcher, subproject and type of chart as follows: 2A) Watt, Ken; 2B) Bouma,
H.; 2C) Takagi, T.; 2D) Miscellaneous Researchers; 2E) Electric Birefringence; 2F) Peptide Synthesis; 2G) Analysis Charts;
and 2H) High Performance Liquid Chromotography Charts.
SERIES 3: AMINO ACID SEQUENCER
This is the machine adapted by laboratory staff to pull apart amino acids.
ACCESSION PROCESSED IN 2006
The accession of the Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records processed in 2006 is arranged in eight series: 4)
CORRESPONDENCE, 5) LAB NOTEBOOKS, 6) RESEARCH, 7) NEWAT, 8) PROTEIN SOCIETY, 9) PUBLICATIONS, 10) GRANTS/BUDGETS and 11) TEACHING
SERIES 4: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged in three subseries: A) General, B) Incoming Email and C) Outgoing Email. The General
Correspondence dates from 1964 to 1998 and includes correspondence from researchers and research institutions. The Incoming
Email dates from 1988 to 1997. The Outgoing Email dates from 1989 to 1997.
SERIES 5: LAB NOTEBOOKS
The LAB NOTEBOOKS series is arranged in two subseries: A) By Researcher and B) By Subject. The By Researcher subseries contains
research notes by Doolittle's assistants and are arranged alphabetically. The By Subject subseries is arranged alphabetically
by the topic being researched, for example, Peptide Synthesis, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.
SERIES 6: RESEARCH
The RESEARCH series is arranged in two subseries: A) Sequencing Research Correspondence and B) Files. The Sequencing Research
Correspondence contains research information shared between Doolittle and other researchers or institutions. The Files subseries
include research files and is arranged alphabetically.
SERIES 7: NEWAT
The NEWAT series contains journal articles, summary data for amino acid, sequencing and supercomputer information.
SERIES 8: PROTEIN SOCIETY
The PROTEIN SOCIETY series contains quarterly financial reports of the society from 1992-1995, annual meetings of the society,
and files of the editorial board, which Doolittle was a member.
SERIES 9: PUBLICATIONS
The PUBLICATIONS series includes press and article information collected by Dr. Doolittle as he served as editor or article
reviewer of various publications, and is arranged in three subseries by publication: A)
Methods in Enzymology, B)
Protein Science and C)
PNAS. Methods in Enzymology, a series of works, is arranged alphabetically and includes articles, arranged by author, other press information and article
information for the work Molecular Evolution, a volume of the series. The
Protein Science subseries, a publication of the Protein Society first issued in 1992, is arranged alphabetically by author of the article.
PNAS, short for Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, is arranged alphabetically by author.
SERIES 10: GRANTS/BUDGETS
The GRANTS/BUDGETS series documents grant requests, grant approvals, and grant budgets for the years 1981 to 1991.
SERIES 11: TEACHING FILES
The TEACHING FILES series, 1981 to 1996, contains course syllabi and Doolittle's preparation notes for each class. Doolittle
participated in a summer science teacher program, educating lower-level science teachers, and his lecture notes are included
in this series.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Biochemistry -- Instruments
Biochemistry -- Research
Peptides -- Synthesis
Proteins -- Analysis
Biochemistry -- United States -- History
Peptides -- Analysis
Amino acids -- Analysis
Peptides -- Separation
Proteins -- Structure -- Atlases
Doolittle, Russell F., 1931-
University of California, San Diego. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry