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
July 16, 1957
It was awfully nice to have your last letter and it coincided, as you may know, with the visit here by Lyman Stowe and Pete
Webb to review our plans for the biochemistry space. We have done little else during the past week or so but concentrate
on developing these plans. This sort of activity gets you down, but we've stuck with it knowing that the time was well
I think I may have mentioned to you that my decision to accept the Stanford offer would very likely be concurred in by the
rest of the department, and this has been so. Mel Cohn, Paul Berg, Dave Hogness and Dale Kaiser, who hold staff appointments
in our department at present, are eager to continue as a group at Stanford; Jerard Hurwitz and Bob Lehman, who hold special
appointments are also happy to move with us. During the next two years we will want to make two additional staff appointments,
one with emphasis on the physical chemical side, and another on the organic side. With respect to the bio-organic area, Gobind
Khorana is very enthusiastic about a joint appointment in chemistry and biochemistry, and I have had Terman's strong encouragement
that this might be worked out.
I m delighted with your offer to facilitate the mass migration. One of the serious concerns expressed by Mel Cohn and Paul
Berg has been about housing; they don't have the financial resources to start off buying a house and are rather worried
about the limited number of rentals that will be available, according to impressions left by Lyman and Pete Webb. Particularly
they would like to know about the availability of apartments. Any help along these lines will be very much appreciated by
them and would, I am sure, enhance their enthusiasm about the move.
With respect to curriculum planning, I am afraid that it comes at a very poor time for all of us. We have been so consumed
with facilities planning at the expense of research and other things that we had counted on doing that it is very unlikely
that we could give the serious consideration to curriculum that it needs during the next few weeks. Most everyone will be
gone in August, and September is a rugged month because it involved getting ready for teaching, an influx of new people and
students, and, in my case, in addition to these things making arrangements so that I can leave for two months on the trip
to Japan. If it can be managed, we would much prefer to postpone this consideration of biochemistry curriculum until next
spring when our preoccupation with the microbiology course is over and when the prospect of moving to Stanford becomes closer
and more meaningful. I appreciate that some decision may have to be made now in the scheduling of biochemistry and I would
like to be as helpful as I can on this score.
I did make a very strong point to Bob Always as a condition of accepting the offer that the teaching of biochemistry should
be limited to one semester so that we could concentrate our teaching efforts during this interval of time, and then have complete
freedom from medical student teaching for a comparable interval for research and graduate student teaching. I have the feeling,
although insufficient information to make it very strong, that it is best to teach something as basic as biochemistry rather
early in the curriculum. Since physical chemistry is not a requirement for admission, and yet seems to me to be an important
course for medical students to have, we might be able to encourage students to take such a course concurrently with biochemistry
or subsequent to it. In thinking about the integration of biochemistry teaching into the teaching efforts of the other departments,
it seems obvious that we must first establish through experience what fundamentals must be taught by us and the most effective
manner of presenting them. At some subsequent time when we have smoothed out the techniques for teaching our subject and
are more familiar with the teaching in other departments, it will become apparent where we can best integrate the biochemistry
I have set aside two days for a stop-over on my way to Tokyo and have planned to spend one of these in Palo Alto. I am quite
certain that a good share of it will have to be devoted to architectural problems and some of it to administrative matters.
I would be delighted to spend some time with you discussing curriculum matters in an informal way. I am still undecided whether
our baby-sitting arrangements will permit Sylvy to have any time for a stop-over on the coast before we proceed together to
With best regards,
P.S. It occurred to me several times and I don't want to forget it again that we might be helpful in planning for student
teaching equipment. I'm interested in what provisions are being made for centrifuges, photometers, constant temperature
baths, refrigerators, incubators, balances, pH meters and other instruments we'll probably need. I gathered from Lyman
that this equipment should be included in the contract going out for bid in a few months.