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

Date Event People Places
March 3, 1918Arthur Kornberg was born in Brooklyn NY, USAKornbergStanford University
June 30, 1926Paul Berg was born in New York NY, USABergStanford University
June 30, 1935Stanley Norman Cohen was born in Perth Amboy, NJ, USACohenStanford University
1941Genes shown to regulate biochemical events within cellsBeadle, TatumStanford University Medical School
April 24, 1947Roger D Kornberg, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2006 born in St. Louis MO, USAKornbergStanford University
April 27, 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
November 1, 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
July 1, 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
October 26, 2007Arthur Kornberg diedKornbergStanford University
June 2, 2016Stem cells reported to provide substantial recovery in patients disabled by strokeStanford University

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