To mark its 60th anniversary, here are six things to know about the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute:
1. Hauptman-Woodward owes its existence to Jell-O. Helen Woodward Rivas was the institute’s lead benefactor. She was the youngest child of Orator Woodward, of LeRoy, who owned and operated the Genesee Pure Food Co. In 1899, her father purchased the name and the recipe for Jell-O. Rivas made a $3 million donation – worth $26.6 million today – to support to her physician and his vision for a nonprofit research facility. The Medical Foundation of Buffalo opened on Nov. 1, 1956.
2. The institute updated its logo and launched a new website to mark its 60th The new blue-white-and-gray logo incorporates the sweeping façade of its building into the image and has the letters “HWI.” It replaces a logo that had the letters “H” and “W” and interlocking hexagons.
3. Herbert A. Hauptman, whose name was added to the institute in 1994, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry even though he was a mathematician, not a chemist. Hauptman and his longtime research partner, Jerome Karle, were honored in 1985 for developing a mathematical process for analyzing the structure of crystals at the atomic level. This helped researchers understand how drugs worked in the body and aided in the development of new drugs.
4. Hauptman-Woodward today has about 40 employees, including six principal investigators who head research teams. The institute’s researchers have brought in $59.4 million over the past 10 years in federal research funding, including $4.4 million in 2015, most from the National Institutes of Health.
5. In 2014, Hauptman-Woodward spun off a startup company, HarkerBIO, that uses structural biology to help pharmaceutical companies save time and money in their search for new drugs. HarkerBIO has 12 employees of its own and is part of the Start-Up NY tax-free zone program. The company has raised $2.25 million in financing to date.
6. HWI scientists travel the world to do interesting experiments that can’t be done at 700 Ellicott St. One example is the work that CEO Eddie Snell and a team are doing with an X-ray free-electron laser, located in Stanford, Calif. Energy is put in at one end and accelerated along a roughly two-mile-long tunnel. By the time it reaches the other end, the energy is converted to X-rays that are used in the team’s experiment.