Original Repository: Stanford University Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Arthur Kornberg Papers
Reproduced with permission of Arthur Kornberg.
"Creating Life in the Test Tube," 1959-1970
Letter from Robert H. Alway to Arthur Kornberg (June 13, 1957)
June 18, 1957
I would like to express our gratitude to you and Sophie and so many others for a most delightful and exciting visit to Stanford.
Your letter of June 13 arrived yesterday and I want to thank you for your reiterated offer of the post of Professor and Executive
of the Department of Biochemistry.
When I left Stanford a little over a week ago, I felt very much inclined to accept this offer and despite some touching and
painful experiences here during the past week I am still so inclined. There are some details, however, which I regard as
important which either are not mentioned or are not sufficiently clarified in your letter. I would like to take them up now.
Budget -- It should provide for a staff of 7 people, very likely 2 professors, 2 associate professors, and 3 assistant professors.
Considering the salary schedule is for 2 years from now and must include allowances for T.I.A.A. deductions, a figure up to
$80,000 should be available. It is understood that appointments are on a 12-month basis. With regard to my own salary, I
feel that the figure $18,000 is not adequate in view of my current and anticipated salary here, and the cost, aside from moving
expenses, of transplanting my home. If it is within university policy I would like to have $20,000.
You had told me that the budget proposed for 1959-1660 is obtained from income derived from the Ford Foundation grant to the
medical school and that the future support of the department of biochemistry will be derived from this source. I expect that
future budgets will allow for salary increases consistent with increases in rank and service.
Teaching -- The department will have as its primary teaching responsibility the teaching of biochemistry to medical students.
It will also provide insofar as possible for the training of students for the Ph.D. in biochemistry, the predoctoral research
training of medical students and the post-doctoral biochemical training of medical and non-medical people. It is essential
that the teaching of medical students be concentrated in one semester so that graduate courses for Ph.D. candidates and advanced
medical students can be taught during the other semester.
With respect to the integration of the curriculum, I believe that it should in no way interfere with the autonomy of the biochemistry
department in determining both how the subject is taught and the content of the course. I can conceive of numerous points
of cooperation between biochemistry and other departments and you can be assured of out our enthusiasm in such joint teaching
efforts. However, I believe that such cooperative teaching projects should arise spontaneously between departments rather
than from committee deliberations and decisions.
Appointment in the School of Humanities and Sciences -- Provost Terman suggested that the biochemistry department could be
a part of this school. I find this is a very attractive offer and would like this official connection.
Space -- In earlier discussions Avram and Henry indicated that in excess of 13,000 sq. ft. would be available and I considered
this adequate for our immediate needs. On close study of the floor plan we find only 12,395 sq. ft. and this includes two
areas designated "student laboratories" and "unassigned". A careful survey of our space requirements indicates
that we need at least this much space. It is my understanding that the occupancy of the area designated as "infectious
disease" is temporary and that this space will become available to biochemistry in the future.
It is with considerable reluctance that I must request the use of the "student laboratories" since I know that this
is not in accordance with Avram's wishes. I do so because we must accommodate 7 staff people, 2 or 3 senior fellows,
6 to 8 post-doctoral fellows, 8 to 10 graduate students and a variable number of medical students and guests in addition to
technical assistants. We need, as shown on the enclosed plan, large areas to house specialized equipment and to serve as
cold and warm rooms and preparative areas. Also we do not plan to give a laboratory course (except to medical students) and
I believe that Avram doesn't either. If we should at a later time, we would try to assimilate a small group into our
The animal room facilities to be share by pharmacology, preventive medicine and biochemistry are not adequate for us if divided
equally among the three departments. If not available immediately we would like at some early future date to have an area
provided by two large rooms (20 x 22) and one small one (15 x 15).
It is essential that the medical school contain wel1-equipped and staffed machine, carpenter, and glass-blowing shops. It
would be desirable to have or develop facilities for maintaining large animals and to have a small greenhouse for the cultivation
of healthy and diseased plants. I would also hope that we would have access to laboratory space at the Hopkins Marine Station
for marine materials.
Moving date -- In this matter I would have 3 major obligations. One is to Washington University to make our microbiology
space and budget available to the members of an incoming department and to provide them sufficient time to settle down to
teach microbiology from September to January. Another is to Stanford to be on the scene when teaching starts; I'm not
clear whether that would be in the fall or spring semester. Finally, I feel a great responsibility to my staff, fellows and
graduate students to interrupt their work as little as possible. We could be ready to move next February when our teaching
is over, but there is no place to go. I am open to any suggestions that will best solve this complicated matter.
Moving expenses -- We must be able to defray the moving expenses of the academic staff. They will incur large losses in moving,
in addition to the usual expenses, and in most cases they just cannot afford it.
Interim planning and visits to Stanford -- I, or some responsible associate, will be happy to conform to any planning responsibilities
and deadlines that will arise. I believe it is possible to present fairly detailed building plans on or not long after July
I hope you will forgive this very long letter. This is not an easy decision for me and I want to be sure that there are no
misunderstandings. If the points I've made are readily resolved I shall be happy and eager to join you in what strikes
me as an exciting adventure.