Advancing Research in Dermatology Through an Estate Plan

Marvin Karasek, PhD

Photo: Courtesy of Steve Castillo of Steve Castillo Photography

Estate Gift Will Fund the Marvin A. Karasek Fellowship Fund

As a young biochemist, Marvin Karasek, PhD, wanted to know if there was a connection between viruses and skin diseases. After he finished his postdoctoral studies in viral research in Germany, his work came to the attention of Arthur Kornberg, MD, chair of the Stanford Department of Biochemistry and winner of the 1959 Nobel Prize for illuminating how DNA is built.

Dr. Kornberg believed that Stanford needed a better program in developmental dermatology and recommended Dr. Karasek to the chairman of the Department of Dermatology, Eugene M. Farber, MD.

“Dr. Farber invited me to become an assistant professor. I accepted and we hit it off immediately,” says Dr. Karasek, now emeritus professor of biochemistry in dermatology.

“I became enamored with the possibilities of making progress in dermatology and establishing the department as a leader in dermatology research. I was hooked.”

With very little fundamental or basic science being done in dermatology at the time, bringing a PhD into a clinical department of medical doctors was a rare step. Yet one of the outstanding features of the department was a strong spirit of cooperation.

The program became world-famous, known for insightful research by top scientists into the biology of the skin and in particular, the epidemiology and treatment of psoriasis, a devastating skin disease.

From Dr. Karasek’s own experience, he understands the roadblocks that a lack of funding can create. Throughout his career, he had to scramble to write proposals for grant funding. He wants to change that scenario, and to see that the work he started years ago will continue.

Dr. Karasek has provided for the bulk of his estate to go to Stanford for investigative research in dermatology. His gift will create the Marvin A. Karasek Fellowship Fund, an endowed fund to support postdoctoral fellowships in the Department of Dermatology.

“It gives me great pleasure to know that my gift will continue to contribute to the advancement of science and will last as long as Stanford does. In many cases, there are more projects to do than funds to support them; it’s very satisfying to know the research will continue. If someone discovers a promising line of research to solve a particular problem, another year won’t be wasted in order to secure fellowship funds.”

Dr. Karasek believes that understanding the underlying cause of disease requires fundamental research in a laboratory. “It’s the answer—the only way we can do it—and we need to make sure these efforts continue. Who knows what the future will bring?”


If you would like to learn more about including a gift in your will or trust to benefit a particular program or department at Stanford, please contact the Medical Center Development Office of Planned Giving at 650.723.6560 or