HFSP alumnus and Nobel Laureate Herbert Hauptman 1917-2011

HFSP is sad to hear of the death of former HFSP Research Grant holder, Herbert Hauptman. Herbert Hauptman was a mathematician who pioneered probabilistic methods for obtaining molecular structures directly from X-ray diffraction patterns, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1985 with Jerome Karle. 

Throughout his career, Herbert Hauptman tackled difficult problems with great success. In recent years he became interested in the use of neutrons instead of X-rays for determining the structures of large molecules such as proteins. In 2006, at the age of 89, he took on the challenge of coordinating a high-risk HFSP grant with Alberto Podjarni in France and Nobuo Niimura in Japan, to develop experimental and mathematical methods for studying protein structures using neutron sources. During the course of the project, the team developed key methods for using neutrons for the study of macromolecules and significantly extended mathematical methods for analysing diffraction patterns. As they wrote in the final report in true HFSP spirit: "This collaboration has fully tested the wits of all the participants involved and has spurred them on to solve seemingly intractable problems that they may not have otherwise attempted."

We send our condolences to Dr. Hauptman's family, colleagues and friends.

See Setting An Example of Science at its Best from the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute on receiving the HFSP grant and the obituary on the Institute's web site.

News of the kick-off meeting with the grant team and colleagues on "Direct Methods in Macromolecular Neutron Diffraction"