Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute Crystallization Center Awarded Major Grant by National Institutes of Health

Jun 8, 2021 | HWI News

Five-year award brings prestige, jobs, investment to Western New York

The Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI), an international leader in structural biology located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, has been awarded a grant totaling nearly $5 million by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), making the Crystallization Center at HWI a National Resource for structural biology researchers.

The National Crystallization Center will provide access to state-of-the-art robotic instrumentation, advanced imaging technologies, and expertise in crystallization to the scientific community. The National Resource grant has been awarded to Dr. Sarah Bowman, Director of the Crystallization Center at HWI, and will be used to create new jobs, invest in new technologies, and create new research opportunities and business partnerships at the Crystallization Center. In addition to Dr. Bowman, other key contributors to creating this National Resource are Dr. Edward Snell, President & CEO of HWI, and Dr. Miranda Lynch, a Staff Scientist at HWI.

“We are very excited that the HWI Crystallization Center has been awarded this NIH funding to become a National Resource for researchers across the United States. As the National Crystallization Center, we will provide our unique expertise and capabilities, elevating our role in helping people understand, treat and cure disease, while also expanding our economic impact here in Western New York,” said Dr. Bowman. “This will mean new jobs and equipment, and attracting new users for the National Crystallization Center to Buffalo and Western New York. Most importantly, this will help human health and disease, because that is what we do.”

A major goal of the five-year grant is to increase access to the state-of-the-art crystallization instrumentation and expertise to researchers from a wide array of laboratories in academic, non-profit, and government institutes, as well as industry users, with an objective to ensure access that enables a broad range of biomedically important research. It provides a critical resource to accelerate drug discovery for diseases that impact us today. The National Crystallization Center will develop additional experimental platforms and new computational tools.  New educational and training opportunities will include workshops and meetings designed to help faculty and student researchers.

“This is an incredibly exciting award which seeks to build on the work Hauptman-Woodward has led for over two decades,” said Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26). “It puts Buffalo at the center of a major job-creating and disease fighting national investment.”

The Crystallization Center has been a leading center of innovation and expertise in structural biology since its inception and has been in continuous operation for 20 years, with a history of funding support from National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Western New York philanthropic foundations. Structural biology is the key science that enabled the pictures of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, to be obtained. Structural biology has played a central role in 90% of all recently developed drugs, highlighting the critical role of the Crystallization Center in the prevention, treatment, and cure of diseases. The Crystallization Center at HWI is actively involved on several projects related to COVID-19, as well as a number of other projects that impact human health and disease, including other viruses, cancer, neurodegeneration, and pathogen virulence.

“The ability to understand and treat disease is based on the ability to visualize and then understand what is happening inside the human body at the smallest level,” added Dr. Snell. “The National Crystallization Center, based here in Buffalo, will help to open and focus the eyes of the research world in greater and more impactful ways. Through this remarkable designation, the support of NIH, and the outstanding work of Dr. Bowman and her team, more eyes from the medical, pharmaceutical and academic worlds will focus on what is happening at HWI and in Buffalo.”

Learn more about the High-Throughput Crystallization Screening Center