State-of-the-art research center to be launched in February

The Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI), an international leader in structural biology located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, will host Nobel Laureate Dr. Joachim Frank for a virtual keynote lecture to recognize the launch of the Institute’s new, state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) center. Dr. Frank’s inaugural lecture is scheduled for Thursday, February 11 at 4 p.m.

Dr. Frank, a Professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, is renowned for his seminal contributions in the development and advancement of cryo-EM research. His lab has developed techniques for single-particle reconstruction of biological macromolecules, specializing in mathematical and computational approaches for analyzing cryo-EM images. Dr. Frank has applied these techniques of visualization to explore the structure and dynamics of the ribosomes during the process of protein synthesis. He was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work, together with Dr. Jacques Dubochet and Dr. Richard Henderson. He has also been honored with a Franklin Medal for Life Science (2014), and shared a Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences with Dr. Richard Henderson and Dr. Marin van Heel in 2017. Dr. Frank is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Microbiology. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

“Few people understand better than Dr. Frank the important and growing role that cryo-EM technology continues to play in global research, and the profound impact it can have on public health,” said Dr. Edward Snell, CEO, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute. “We are thrilled that he will help us usher in this new and exciting era of world-class medical research at HWI and in Western New York, as his work has been pioneering for the field.”

Cryo-EM is an invaluable tool in accelerating the study and potential treatment of diseases. Cryo-EM technologies use electrons to image individual proteins that are flash-frozen in motion.  High-powered computing then helps to reveal what these proteins look like. The results allow scientists and researchers to develop life-saving therapeutics more quickly and successfully. The HWI center, which is set to be operational later in February, will be the first cryo-EM facility in Upstate New York with this groundbreaking capability.

“Through the development of this new center, HWI and the Buffalo region are part of a new echelon within the medical research community,” noted Dr. Rory Curtis, Vice President of Business Development, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute. “Technology and science are the keys that help unlock critical information in understanding, visualizing, and ultimately treating disease. By investing in equipment that is as advanced as the market currently allows, we have established a true destination resource at HWI, and people throughout healthcare, pharmaceuticals, materials science and academia are taking notice.” 

            To date, nearly 300 individuals from around the world have registered to attend Dr. Frank’s lecture, titled “Single-particle Cryo-EM: Visualizing Biological Molecules in Their Native States,” which will be presented online. Registration information can be found on the HWI website at