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The Arthur Kornberg Papers

Letter from Arthur Kornberg to D. S. Fahrney pdf (66,168 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Arthur Kornberg to D. S. Fahrney
Like many acclaimed scientists, Kornberg was keenly aware that scientific merit was not the sole basis for awards and other honors. He made this clear when asked to recommend others for awards, as in this letter regarding Marshall Nirenberg, who would win a Nobel Prize in 1968 for his work on the genetic code.
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1 (66,168 Bytes)
1965-01-14 (January 14, 1965)
Kornberg, Arthur
Fahrney, D. S.
Franklin Institute
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):
Awards and Prizes
Exhibit Category:
"Creating Life in the Test Tube," 1959-1970
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Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
January 14, 1965
Dear Admiral:
You are kind to ask me for advice on the candidacy of Marshall Nirenberg for an award recognizing his contributions to genetics. There is no question that his demonstration that simple accessible polynucleotides can be used as models and substitutes for genetic messengers is a major contribution. More recently, his continued investigations of his initial findings have been done with better precision and continue to be highly significant in our understanding of how information is encoded in genes and transcribed for protein synthesis.
It would be unfair to say, however, that his contribution is of such elegance and depth in biochemistry or in genetics as disciplines to give him considerable stature in either field. While it may be beyond the scope of your quest for information about Nirenberg, I cannot refrain from giving you my comparative evaluation of Charles Yanofsky, Professor of Biology here at Stanford. His contributions to genetics are to my mind of considerably greater depth and importance than those of any investigator during the past ten years, including Nirenberg's. It is Yanofsky who has demonstrated with a thoroughness and elegance that is unmatched the colinearity of the genetic code and the primary structure of the protein molecule. From my intimate association with many colleagues who work in this field, Yanofsky is clearly their choice for the scientist's scientist. I appreciate that the newspaper coverage and the popular response to Yanofsky's work does not approach that of Nirenberg's. This, I would suggest, is all the more reason that responsible juries making wards consider the relative merit of Yanofsky's contributions.
Sincerely yours,
Arthur Kornberg
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