Original Repository: Stanford University Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Arthur Kornberg Papers
Reproduced with permission of Arthur Kornberg.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Research Support as Topic
The Synthesis of DNA, 1953-1959
Box Number: 24
Folder Number: 29
January 6, 1958
I meant to write to you sooner and now you're one up on me. I was happy to have your letter when we reached Israel in
mid-November and have some tangible link with out Stanford future. It was a marvelous trip and you'll get some of our
impressions even if you don't insist.
Your activity on behalf of a medical genetics unit impressed and encouraged me. I think that genetics teaching and research
at Stanford deserves and should eventually have the dignity and strength of departmental status. Perhaps the best way to
get started is to follow through on your plans.
I have it on pretty good authority that Benzer has turned down the Hopkins offer and is returning to Purdue this coming fall.
I assume he has also turned down the Harvard offer and I shall find out from Bernie Davis when I see him next week in Boston.
I think this makes it more hopeful that he will be receptive at a later date to an offer from Stanford. We can speculate
that such considerations may have even dictated his return to Purdue, but this is something we can find out more about later.
Now for considerations of high finance. I am already bewildered by the amount of money we'll need to set up our department
on the scale to which we've become accustomed. Until I can see clearly that the contributions from Stanford and the Public
Health Service have assured us of what we need, I feel it would be unwise to devote our efforts in other directions. On the
other hand, you can count on my complete emotional and intellectual support. I am sure we can provide a joint appointment
in biochemistry for a person like Benzer or comparable stature, and assist him materially with our facilities any anything
else at our disposal. As a matter of fact, I already proposed this to Benzer in some form when he called me after first hearing
I feel foolish trying to be more concrete in areas of financial wizardry, but just to be sure you'll know I'm interested
I would suggest that you concentrate on only one objective, endowment from any source for a "chair of genetics" in
the medical school. You'd need about $400,000 to get enough income. From there on in it's a snap. A person of Benzer's
stature can get all the research and fellowship funds he would need from a variety of sources.
You may have gathered that I have no plans for travelling west. On the other hand, I'd be surprised if you weren't
coming east before too long. We'll be very eager to have you here. Incidentally Mel Cohn and Paul Berg were both delighted
with your last visit.
Dr. Terman wrote me in connection with our negotiations with Khorana that appointment of a head for chemistry was imminent.
Despite his or Sterling's statement that I would be consulted on this matter, all references to it such as this one of
Terman's have been tightly veiled. I realize the delicacy of such matters, but I can't help feeling a little annoyed.
I felt that both Terman and Sterling agreed that in Biochemistry we should be seriously concerned with the future of the Elementary
Department, and it would be to everyone's interest to develop good working relations between these departments. I was
even more disturbed when Mel Cohn mentioned to me yesterday that you had dropped Libby's name as a possible candidate.
It frightened me. I was expecting that bright young, active research workers rather than political figures were on the list
of candidates. If there is any way you can reassure me on this score please do.
If this gets any longer I'll have to include it in my bibliography, which is too cumbersome already