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Doolittle (Russell) Biochemistry Laboratory Records
MSS 0077  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Preferred Citation
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Languages: English
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0077
    Physical Description: 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.

    Preferred Citation

    Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records, MSS 0077. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Administrative History

    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, Protein Science.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    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.
    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.
    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.
    This is the machine adapted by laboratory staff to pull apart amino acids.
    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 FILES.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    The NEWAT series contains journal articles, summary data for amino acid, sequencing and supercomputer information.
    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.
    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.
    The GRANTS/BUDGETS series documents grant requests, grant approvals, and grant budgets for the years 1981 to 1991.
    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