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Stanley N. Cohen Papers 1948-2016
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Collection Scope and Content Note


Correspondence, email and electronic records, laboratory notebooks and workpapers, grant files, reports and journal articles, notes, lectures, awards, honors, and memorabilia document the academic and professional career of Stanford University School of Medicine geneticist Stanley N. Cohen. The collection comprehensively covers the many facets of Cohen's career from his early work in artificial intelligence medical diagnosis, his discovery of recombinant DNA technology, the development of laboratory safety standards, the promotion of public knowledge about science, and the ongoing focus of his lab in the areas of plasmid inheritance, cell growth, mobile genetic elements.

Series 1, Personal and Biographical (1948-2015), illustrates Dr. Cohen's academic achievements as well as his avocations. This includes certificates, diplomas, and yearbooks documenting his professional advancement, along with ephemera relating to his musical and songwriting work and the Society for Medical Friends of Wine. Several folders of clippings (1970-2013) contain articles about Dr. Cohen's career, DNA technology in general, as well as significant items of correspondence. Photographs, correspondence, and website archives for the several Cohen Birthday Symposia celebrate the successes of his lab, colleagues, and staff as well as serve as forums for invitees to discuss and present new areas of research.

Series 2, Correspondence (1968-2015) is divided into three subseries: chronological files of daily office activity (1977-1996), corporate correspondence (1970-2015), and files by personal name (1968-2011). The series also contains 65 computer discs of correspondence dating from 1979-1986 and email archives dated 1999-2016.

Series 3, Recombinant DNA (1977-1992) contains a few articles about recombinant DNA along with documentation of the process of the Cogene working group's formulation of guidelines for the safe and ethical use of cloning technology.

Series 4, Lab Administration (1972-1999) briefly chronicles some of the business and management activities of Cohen's lab. Developing protocols and procedures for the safe handling of biohazardous materials was also a significant outcome of the recombinant DNA work and the Cohen lab administration manual became a model for working safely in the lab and safely conduct experiments. Cohen's work during a sabbatical year to Taiwan University was to establishment a joint biotechnology research venture between Stanford and National Taiwan University (1991-1999) is documented through correspondence and project application files of the Chinese students working in the program.

Series 5, Lab Notebooks and Workpapers (1963-2010) contains laboratory notebooks, notes, and correspondence produced by researchers in Dr. Cohen's Stanford lab. The lab notebooks contain experiment data; Workpapers is a descriptive term Cohen uses to describe the manuscript drafts and editorial and collaborator correspondence and notes that along with lab data form the final research products. The nine notebooks produced by Dr. Cohen in this series (1963-1967) are representative examples of his postdoctoral research predate his work at Stanford; the lab notebooks for his seminal plasmid DNA work are located in the Smithsonian Museum of American History as are the physical components of the lab and equipment where the work was conducted.

Series 6, Publication Activity (1959-2016) represents scientific articles authored and co-authored by Dr. Cohen. Numbered articles total 364 but are complete only through the first 200. Those numbered beyond 200 exist variously as drafts, reprints, and correspondence. Many of the later articles exist in this collection only in digital form. This section also contains articles by Dr. Cohen (1959-2001) not represented in the numbered bibliography, and drafts and correspondence for seemingly unpublished articles (1975-1991).

Series 7, Lectures (1977-2016) consists of correspondence, brochures, announcements, notes, and speeches given by Dr. Cohen at various lectureships, conferences, symposia, and on special occasions. One section is devoted to a particular speech Dr. Cohen developed in response to the general public's reaction to the implications of cloning technology. "Fear of Knowledge" addresses the general phenomenon of fearing knowledge and relates it directly to responses to his work with recombinant DNA and stresses the need to promulgate scientific knowledge as beneficial.

Series 8, Stanford School of Medicine Genetics Department (1976-2008) contains lecture outlines, lectures, reading lists, readings, examination questions, and syllabi for courses taught by Dr. Cohen at Stanford: Clinical Pharmacology 202, Genetics 201, 202, 208, 209, Pharmacology, other miscellaneous course outlines including graduate medical education material. Dr. Cohen taught medical courses prior to being appointed professor of genetics in 1977 and was department chair.

Series 9, Contracts and Grants (1967-2010) contain guidelines and reports from various research grants Dr. Cohen's laboratory mostly involving genetic research, but also highlights the other clinical diagnostic fields Cohen worked in especially in the artificial intelligence and computational diagnostic arenas. Among the subjects studied were the evolution of plasmids through the American Cancer Society (1979-1993); ovarian and prostate cancer with the California Cancer Research Program (1998-2003); toxins in mammals and viral pathogens with the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA); and genetics, propagation and inheritance of plasmids, genomic DNA cloning and analysis, computer-based online drug therapy monitoring/Mediphor (1970s-1986), computer intervention in clinical drug therapy/Minerva (1977-1983), computational medical diagnosis/MYCIN research with Edward Shortliffe, and tumor suppression gene with NIH (1971-2002). The series also contains an alphabetical list of funding sources.

Series 10, Material Transfer Agreements (1968-2006) contains records of agreements and transfers made of plasmid DNA strains requested for cloning, documentation of the development of terminology and procedures, and requests for transfers of random homozygous knockout, a mutated gene made to replace a normal genome to study its functions in a live organism.

Series 11, Cohen/Boyer Patent (1972-2003) contains legal and administrative documents for preparing recombinant DNA patent applications and the subsequent management of royalties and technology usage rights. The materials include legal discussions and debates about the Cohen/Boyer original patent application, technology transfer, royalties, and material usage agreements. It also includes the original patent certificate.

Series 12, Travel, Meetings, and Seminars (1976-2016), contains brochures, proceedings, agendas, and notes from professional scientific meetings, conferences and symposia Dr. Cohen attended. Among the most frequently attended were meetings with the National Academy of Sciences/PNAS, Gordon research conference, American Society for Microbiology, Institute of Molecular Biology (Taiwan), Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

Series 13, Memberships and Awards (1955-2016), holds certificates, plaques, and artifacts presented to Dr. Cohen. Notable among these are honorary doctorates from Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania, the Lasker Award, the Shaw Prize, the Wolf Foundation Prize, the National Medal of Science, the National Medal of Technology, and certificate of induction into the Inventors' Hall of Fame. Certificates and other documentation represent Dr. Cohen's membership in various medical societies and academies.

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