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):
The Synthesis of DNA, 1953-1959
Box Number: 24
Folder Number: 18
October 30, 1956
Since our conversation a week ago, I have given considerable thought to your request for suggestions regarding the curriculum
and the administration of the medical school. Both because my knowledge is limited, and because I think it would best preserve
the desirable attitudes and traditions of the school, I would like to limit my remarks to areas of direct concern to this
1. During the past two years we have been teaching elementary genetics, which special attention to problems in microbial genetics.
Despite our attempts to use examples from human genetics, it seems that within the time which we can allot to it, the coverage
of this subject is still inadequate for the proper training of medical students in the increasingly important field of human
heredity. I believe that with the advances in medicine, it will become more and more apparent that the gene is a most important
etiologic agent of disease and an ever present critical factor in the pathogenesis and treatment of disease. I would, therefore,
suggest that serious attention be given to augmenting instruction in this area.
2. Another problem that we face is that of presenting microbiology as a basic science and having it meet the students'
demands for an early encounter with the clinical aspects of infectious diseases. While it would be wrong to sacrifice in
any way the fundamental scientific treatment of microbiology, it might be possible nevertheless by some device to obtain a
better student response and to achieve a desirable correlation in our teaching. I would suggest an appointment for someone
to serve jointly in the Department of Medicine and in the Department of Microbiology, sharing his time and teaching efforts
between the two departments.
3. Our most serious administrative problem has been with the maintenance of services as the remodeling of laboratories and
facilities. Dependence on the present crew has usually led to delays which are costly in time and money. At present we urgently
need a laboratory room to devote to physical studies of proteins, nucleic acids and polyphosphates. We have a workable idea
for providing space, and I am confident we can get the money to equip the laboratory. What has dampened my enthusiasm for
this project is the anticipation of the complications and delays that invariably accompany such an effort. Since we must
plan for continuing technological advances in all departments and periodic major building and remodeling projects, in several
departments, some sophisticated and efficient mechanism for this should be worked out.