Stanford University Medical School

Palo Alto, United States of America

At the forefront of many biomedical advances since the Second World War, Stanford University Medical School played a pioneering role in the emergence of gene cloning.

(Photo credit: Stanford Medical History Center)

Stanford University School of Medicine traces its history back to the founding of the first medical school in the western United States in 1858 by the San Francisco surgeon Elias Samuel Cooper. The school went through many changes until 1882 when Cooper's nephew Levi Cooper Lane established a new college and renamed it Cooper Medical College.

In 1908 Cooper Medical College became affiliated to Stanford University and was renamed Stanford University School of Medicine. The School moved into new premises on the main Stanford University campus in Palo Alto in 1959.

The School fosters strong collaboration between medical investigators, engineers and basic physical and biological scientists and is a pioneering centre for biomedical research. Among its notable achievements are the role its scientists played in the development of recombinant DNA which inspired the creation of Genentech, the first dedicated biotechnology company and the development of genetically engineered drugs. The School's scientists were also instrumental in the generation of instruments for the automatic counting and classification of different cells types. Known as fluorescence activated cell sorters, these instruments opened up research into cell structure, function and disease on an unprecedented scale.

Stanford University Medical School: timeline of key events

Kornberg shared the 1959 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of the 'mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid.'1918-03-03T00:00:00+0000Berg helped pioneer recombinant DNA and set up the Asimolar Conference which established guidelines for experiments using the technology.1926-06-30T00:00:00+0000Cohen helped pioneer recombinant DNA.1935-06-30T00:00:00+0000George Beadle and Edward Tatum, American geneticists, demonstrate that genes are responsible for the production of an enzyme. 1941-01-01T00:00:00+0000Kornberg won the 2006 Nobel Prize for working out the protein pathway that a cell's genetic information takes when transferred to a new cell. 1947-04-24T00:00:00+0000Fire shared the 2006 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discovery of RNA interference - gene silencing by double-stranded RNA.'1959-04-27T00:00:00+0000Ray Wu and A.D. Kaiser report on the partial sequence of bacteriophage lambda DNA in the Journal of Molecular Biology, 35/3 (1968), 523-37. 1968-01-01T00:00:00+00001968-01-01T00:00:00+0000This was developed by Peter Lobhan, a graduate student of Dale Kaiser at Stanford University.1969-01-01T00:00:00+0000The American geneticist Leonard Herzenberg creates the flueorcence-activated cell sorter, or FACS, an invaluable tool for studying cell structure and function. Coupled later with monoclonal antibodies the FACS is today a vital not only for basic research but medical diagnosis. 1970-01-01T00:00:00+0000This was done in Dale Kaiser's laboratory by Douglas Berg together with Janet Mertz and David Jackson1971-01-01T00:00:00+0000Robert Pollack contacted Paul Berg to raise concerns about the potential biohazards of experiments his doctoral research plans to do involving the introduction of genes from the oncovirus SV40 in the human gut bacteria, E-Coli. Following this Berg self-imposed a moratorium on experiments in his laboratory involving the cloning of SV40 in E-Coli. 1971-06-01T00:00:00+0000D A Jackson, R H Symons, P Berg, 'Biochemical Method for Inserting New Genetic Information into DNA of Simian Virus 40: Circular SV40 DNA Molecules Containing Lambda Phage Genes and the Galactose Operon of Escherichia coli', PNAS USA, 69/10 (1972), 2904-09.1972-10-01T00:00:00+0000Janet Mertz and Ronald Davis publish an easy-to-use technique for constructing recombinant DNA. 1972-11-01T00:00:00+0000This was prompted by the publication of the recombinant DNA experpiments published by Berg, Jackson and Symons1972-11-01T00:00:00+0000Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer publish genetic engineering techniques to cut and paste DNA (using restriction enzymes and ligases) and reproduce the new DNA in bacteria1973-01-01T00:00:00+0000American geneticist and biochemist, Leonard Herzenberg and Argentinian biochemist, Cesar Milstein, devise monoclonal antibodies for use on an automatic fluorescence-activated cell sorter, FACS. This improves the reliability of the FACS allowing the instrument to go on to become a major tool not only for cell sorting and cellular biology but the diagnosis of disease. The work is done in collaboration with the American geneticist and immunologist Leonore Herzenberg and Vernon Oi, then a graduate student in genetics at Stanford University. 1977-01-01T00:00:00+0000The American scientists Stanley Cohen and Herbet Boyer are awarded the first US patent for gene cloning.1980-01-01T00:00:00+0000Philip Karr, a patient with lymphoma, is treated by Ron Levy at Stanford University with a customised monoclonal antibody. It marks the first time a monoclonal antibody successfully treats cancer in a patient.1981-01-01T00:00:00+0000Two teams of scientists publish methods for the generation of chimeric monoclonal antibodies, that is antibodies possessing genes that are half-human and half mouse. Each team had developed their techniques separate from each other. The first team was lead by Michael Neuberger together with Terence Rabbitts and other colleagues at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. The second team consisted of Sherie Morrison and colleagues at Stanford University together with Gabrielle Boulianne and others at the University of Toronto. 1984-12-01T00:00:00+0000 GJ Spangrude, S Heimfeld, IL Weissman, 'Purification and characterization of mouse hematopoietic stem cells', Science, 241 (1988), 58-62. 1988-07-01T00:00:00+0000Jasin, M, Berg, P, 'Homologous integration in mammalian cells without target gene selection', Genes Development, 2/11 (1988): 1353-63.1988-11-01T00:00:00+0000European Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products recommends the approval of Centoxin (Nebacumab) , a drug originally developed by Henry Kaplan and Nelson Tang at Stanford University and prepared for market by Centocor. Based on this recommendation the drug was subsequently approved for market in The Netherlands, Britain, Germany and France between March and December 1991.1991-03-01T00:00:00+0000Ritxuan (rituiximab) is approved for the treatment of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The drug arose out of Ronald Levy's research for three decades to find a way of harnessing the power of the body's own immune system to fight cancer. 1997-01-01T00:00:00+0000Kornberg shared the 1959 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of the 'mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid.'2007-10-26T00:00:00+0000The procedure, undertaken in clinical trials led by Gary Steinberg at Stanford University School of Medicine, involved the injection of modified human, adult stem cells from bone marrow directly into the brains of 18 chronic stroke patients. 2016-06-02T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places
3 Mar 1918Arthur Kornberg was born in Brooklyn NY, USAKornbergStanford University
30 Jun 1926Paul Berg was born in New York NY, USABergStanford University
30 Jun 1935Stanley Norman Cohen was born in Perth Amboy, NJ, USACohenStanford University
1941Genes shown to regulate biochemical events within cellsBeadle, TatumStanford University Medical School
24 Apr 1947Roger D Kornberg, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2006 born in St. Louis MO, USAKornbergStanford University
27 Apr 1959Andrew Z Fire was born in Stanford CA, USAFire Stanford University School
1968The first partial sequence of a viral DNA is reportedWu, KaiserCornell University, Stanford University Medical School
1968Paul Berg started experiments to generate recombinant DNA moleculesBergStanford University
1969New idea for generating recombinant DNA conceivedLobhanStanford University
1970Fluorescence activated cell sorter createdHerzenbergStanford University
1971First plasmid bacterial cloning vector constructedBerg, Mertz, JacksonStanford University
June 1971First time potential biohazards of recombinant DNA raisedMertz, Berg, PollackStanford University
October 1972First paper published on generating recombinant DNABerg, Jackson, SymonsStanford University
November 1972First easy-to-use technique published for constucting recombinant DNA. J. Mertz, R. Davis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 69/11, pp. 2270-74.Berg, MertzStanford University Medical School
1 Nov 1972Nature editorial voiced concern about generating recombinant DNABerg, Jackson, SymonsStanford University
1973Recombinant DNA produced in bacteriaCohen, BoyerStanford University Medical School, University of California San Francisco
1977Monoclonal antibodies developed for automatic fluorescence-activated cell sorter Milstein, Herzenberg, OiLaboratory of Molecular Biology, Stanford University Medical School, University of Toronto
1980First patent awarded for gene cloningCohen, BoyerStanford University Medical School
1981First patient successfully treated with anti-idiotype monoclonal antibodyLevyStanford University Medical School
1984First chimeric monoclonal antibodies developed which lays foundation for safer and more effective monoclonal antibody therapeuticsNeuberger, Rabbitts, Morrison, Oi, Herzenberg, Boulianne, Schulman, HozumiLaboratory of Molecular Biology, Stanford Univerity Medical School
1 Jul 1988The first hematopoietic stem cells were isolated in miceSpangrude, Heimfeld, WeissmanStanford University
November 1988Gene targeting technique shown to be efficient in modifying DNA in mammalian cells which can be adapted for other systems. This is the first time genome modification appears possible. Jasin, BergStanford University
March 1991Monoclonal antibody drug approved in Europe for the treatment of septic shockKaplan, TangStanford University Medical School, Centocor
1997FDA approved the first monoclonal antibody cancer drug for the American marketLevy, RastetterStanford University Medical School, Idec Pharmaceuticals
26 Oct 2007Arthur Kornberg diedKornbergStanford University
2 Jun 2016Stem cells reported to provide substantial recovery in patients disabled by strokeStanford University

3 Mar 1918

Arthur Kornberg was born in Brooklyn NY, USA

30 Jun 1926

Paul Berg was born in New York NY, USA

30 Jun 1935

Stanley Norman Cohen was born in Perth Amboy, NJ, USA

1941

Genes shown to regulate biochemical events within cells

24 Apr 1947

Roger D Kornberg, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2006 born in St. Louis MO, USA

27 Apr 1959

Andrew Z Fire was born in Stanford CA, USA

1968

The first partial sequence of a viral DNA is reported

1968

Paul Berg started experiments to generate recombinant DNA molecules

1969

New idea for generating recombinant DNA conceived

1970

Fluorescence activated cell sorter created

1971

First plasmid bacterial cloning vector constructed

Jun 1971

First time potential biohazards of recombinant DNA raised

Oct 1972

First paper published on generating recombinant DNA

Nov 1972

First easy-to-use technique published for constucting recombinant DNA. J. Mertz, R. Davis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 69/11, pp. 2270-74.

1 Nov 1972

Nature editorial voiced concern about generating recombinant DNA

1973

Recombinant DNA produced in bacteria

1977

Monoclonal antibodies developed for automatic fluorescence-activated cell sorter

1980

First patent awarded for gene cloning

1981

First patient successfully treated with anti-idiotype monoclonal antibody

1984

First chimeric monoclonal antibodies developed which lays foundation for safer and more effective monoclonal antibody therapeutics

1 Jul 1988

The first hematopoietic stem cells were isolated in mice

Nov 1988

Gene targeting technique shown to be efficient in modifying DNA in mammalian cells which can be adapted for other systems. This is the first time genome modification appears possible.

Mar 1991

Monoclonal antibody drug approved in Europe for the treatment of septic shock

1997

FDA approved the first monoclonal antibody cancer drug for the American market

26 Oct 2007

Arthur Kornberg died

2 Jun 2016

Stem cells reported to provide substantial recovery in patients disabled by stroke