Original Repository: Stanford University Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Arthur Kornberg Papers
Reproduced with permission of Theodore C. Alway.
"Creating Life in the Test Tube," 1959-1970
Letter from Arthur Kornberg to Robert H. Alway (June 18, 1957)
June 13, 1957
I am very happy officially to reaffirm our invitation to you to become Professor and Executive of the Department of Biochemistry
of the School of Medicine of Leland Stanford Junior University. This letter is further to confirm and extend various points
considered in our several talks last week.
I talked with President Sterling this morning following his return to the west coast last evening, and now find my way entirely
clear actively to pursue what I trust is our mutual interest.
I shall not list each of the many points we discussed, but I shall be happy to reply to any you wish confirmed or extended
For the school year 1959-60 we would be prepared to assure you an academic staff of seven people: two professors (one, you
as the executive of the department); one or two associate professors; one or two assistant professors and two or three instructors.
The additional person beyond your present needs being a physical chemist. We would expect to offer the professor and executive
the stipend of $18,000 per annum, and the rest of the staff to be paid in relation to their professional stature and Stanford
remuneration for those of similar rank and accomplishment. I currently anticipate a provision in the biochemistry departmental
budget of $70,000 to $80,000 per annum for the professional or academic staff.
It is understood that the non-academic staff would include a departmental administrative secretary, a secretary-stenographer,
and a shop man technician such as discussed with me. A supply and expense item adequate to cover the usual including the
department's proportion of supplies and equipment for student teaching would necessarily be a part of the departmental
The possible problem of finding funds to provide special equipment which you discussed with me in the plus or minus $150,000
range, and later in the $150,000 to $200,000 range with Provost Terman scarcely seems insurmountable. I assume that U.S.P.H.S.,
American Cancer Society, and other granting sources would be approached to cover a substantial part of $200,000, but we do
stand ready to assure such as may immediately appear necessary. We want you to realize that we feel that the purpose of your
move to Stanford would be defeated if your departmental laboratories were not adequately equipped. The University will guarantee
adequate laboratory equipment. It is understood also that approximately $3,000 would be provided as a non-reoccurring item
to replace your biochemistry departmental library.
The University has not provided me with all the details regarding your personal moving expenses, but this should in no way
unfavorably influence your decision, since we are all highly in favor of seeing you moved to Stanford.
Avram feels that you two understand the "conjoint" nature of the proposed teaching of the basic medical sciences,
particularly its non-compulsory aspects as far as individual departments are concerned.
I do not believe that I properly might guarantee a six months "block" free of all teaching for all of the biochemistry
staff but would be most surprised if the executive of the department of biochemistry did not evolve a schedule satisfactory
to his department, as well as to the rest of the basic medical sciences.
You will recall my asking about your coming out to Stanford further to pursue biochemistry departmental building plans and
other problems, should this appear desirable. More immediately, however, the suggestions and wishes of you and your associates
regarding the plans you took back from here are of great interest inasmuch as we hope to have approval of all "preliminary"
plans before July 1st.
Let me reaffirm my statement regarding all departmental executives and their role in influencing the selection of the new
Dean of the School of Medicine. I would, as the Acting Dean as well as a member of the committee to select the new Dean,
keep you posted as to our deliberations and certainly can assure you that the executive of the department of biochemistry
as much as any other departmental executive, would be most seriously listened to should he bring up cogent arguments against
the selection of any one possible candidate.
Actually I have found only one point in our several talks that concerns me. More so, I believe it is of even more concern
to you, to Biochemistry, and to the Stanford Medical School. The Washington University School of Medicine would have two
years to prepare to cover the fall of 1959 medical student instruction in biochemistry -- Stanford School of Medicine, however,
dangles uncovered pending the arrival of a professor of biochemistry or his associates. This I know you realize, possibly
more keenly than I. In addition your presence during the fall quarter of' 1959 as we all get underway here could only
contribute greatly to the medical school and more so insure a pattern favorably influenced by your thinking.
I shall be happy to expedite a check to you promptly on receipt of a statement of expenses incurred by you and Mrs. Kornberg
on your recent visit to Stanford. I shall be in San Francisco June 14th at West 1-8000; and chiefly at home over the weekend
except for commencement exercise obligations, at Davenport 4-2986, or on Monday next in Palo Alto at Davenport 3-9411, should
you wish to have immediate consideration of any points mentioned or not in this letter.
At the risk of possible redundancy may I recall to you the conviction expressed by Sterling, Terman, Kaplan, Goldstein, vanNeil
et al to the point of your possible utter exhaustion regarding our immediate and future prospects.
Robert H. Alway, M.D.
[Handwritten note: P.S. More stuffy associates might shudder at my informal salutation in such a letter -- but -- simply may
I add -- the weather continues its usual -- delightful! RHA]