Letter from Arthur Kornberg to Frederick E. Terman
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1958-02-06 (February 6, 1958)
Terman, Frederick E.
Original Repository: Stanford University Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Arthur Kornberg Papers
Reproduced with permission of Arthur Kornberg.
The Synthesis of DNA, 1953-1959
February 6, 1958
Dear Dr. Terman:
As you know I spent yesterday in Chicago meeting with Dr. Lederberg in order to facilitate, in any way I am able, his coming
to Stanford. Soon after I returned home last night Bob Alway called to tell me of the enthusiasm you and Dr. Sterling had
for bringing Dr. Lederberg to Stanford and I in turn gave Bob my impressions of the day's meeting with Dr. Lederberg.
Since Bob will not be in Palo Alto for several weeks, he suggested that I might correspond with you directly about these matters.
Perhaps I should say first that I regard Dr. Lederberg as one of the very few, if not the most outstanding biologist of his
generation. He is very eager to come to Stanford and his stated requirements for coming are fewer that I anticipated. I
sincerely hope it will be within Stanford's means to satisfy them.
I would like to take the liberty of suggesting what in my judgment Dr. Lederberg would regard as an irresistible offer
(1) Administration and teaching.
a) The creation of a department of genetics in the medical school with a direct line of authority to the dean of the medical
school, a place on the executive faculty, and an adequate number of teaching hours and an early place in the medical school
b) An appointment in the Humanities and Sciences and in the Graduate School with authority to prescribe the qualifications
to grant the Ph. D. degree in his own department.
c) Congenial relationships with the Biology Department.
Dr. Lederberg would like most to be associated with the medical faculty. He shares my convictions that we should strive for
the development of medical scientists at Stanford. He is deeply interested in training medical research workers and in improving
the genetics training of physicians. He is interested in human genetics and would be of enormous help and inspiration to
the clinical as well as pre-clinical faculty. I believe that the teaching of genetics to medical students is essential because,
like chemistry, it pervades every facet of cellular behavior and clinical medicine. Creating a Department of Medical Genetics:
with Lederberg as its head would dignify its importance to students and faculty and would give Stanford enormous prestige.
It seems to me that this imaginative step by the school would more than pay for itself in a practical way by catalyzing contributions
to the school at large as well as to this department.
(2) Budget and staff.
a) The funds to support two junior people in addition to himself. He already has in mind two such men, one an outstanding
young biometrician now at Wisconsin and another, an experimental worker in tissue immunochemistry at Harvard. Dr. Lederberg
might be agreeable to supporting one or both of these people with long-term senior fellowships such as are readily available
from the Public Health Service or several private foundations. Both he and I are also hopeful that the Rockefeller or Commonwealth
Foundation might at some later time be interested in endowing such a genetics department working on problems of race and genetic
etiologies of human disease.
b) I did not discuss salary with Dr. Lederberg, but I would judge it should not be less than $14,000 and preferably more.
Dr Lederberg's first preference is for permanent quarters as close as possible to the Biochemistry Department; all of
us in biochemistry reciprocate this feeling. It seems obvious, however, that the current plans for the Edwards and adjoining
building will not allow this. There should therefore be an arrangement, effective perhaps in July, 1959, for housing him
and his staff temporarily. There should also be a definite commitment for his permanent quarters to be occupied within two
years after his arrival. We discussed several alternatives for temporary quarters:
a) Biology building. Dr. Lederberg estimates that he will need 2,500 sq. ft. of space and that remodeling costs will exceed
b) The present Pharmacology quarters to be vacated by Dr. Goldstein. I am unaware of the available space and how much remodeling
would be necessary.
c) Edwards Building. There is an unassigned room (22 x 20) adjoining our biochemistry space and we would be willing to give
up a similar and adjoining room, and in addition make all our common-use facilities available to him. He would need still
another room on this floor, and also office space, for the biometrician of his staff, perhaps in the biology building.
I would like to say that I found Dr. Lederberg most considerate of the problems Stanford would have to face in meeting his
needs and would probably be receptive to compromise arrangements that might arise from friendly discussions of the various
details. I hope that we can take advantage of his eagerness at this moment to end a long period of vacillation over offers
from several universities and of his new enthusiasm to come to Stanford by making him this "irresistible offer".
I sincerely hope I have not exceeded my authority as an unofficial ambassador. Please call on me to help in any way you think