How Did Dr. Herbert Hauptman Contribute to Medicine?

Dr. Herbert Hauptman
Dr. Herbert Hauptman Hauptman-Woodward Medical Rese

Nobel Prize winning chemist Dr. Herbert Hauptman, whose pioneering work on deciphering molecular structures has contributed to the design of new drugs, died Sunday at age 94.

Hauptman died in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, after having a stroke, according to the Associated Press.

"By now, the structures of thousands of molecules have been solved by crystallographers using Hauptman's direct methods, and many more are added to the list each year," according to a biography by the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.

"As a result of the information obtained from these studies, new drugs have been designed," the institute adds.

Hauptman solved a problem that defied other scientists for more than 40 years. His research focused on determining three dimensional molecular structures using X-ray crystallography. He developed mathematical techniques to interpret patterns formed by X-ray scattered from crystals.

Hauptman used equations to translate the information in the X-ray patterns directly into a structural map that revealed the locations of individual atoms. Gradually, crystallographers began using this method to determine the three-dimensional structures of myriad biological molecules, many of which had medical significance, the institute said.

He is survived by his wife, Edith, their daughters Barbara Hauptman and Carol Fullerton, Ph.D., his brother Robert, and many nieces and nephews.

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