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   IMCA-CAT
 
HWI’s Connection to Argonne National Laboratory
 

imcaIn January 2010, the Hauptman-Woodward Institute began a new venture when it assumed management of an experimental station at the Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) located outside Chicago, Illinois.

“This opportunity promises both to bring in useful amounts of revenue and to create visibility and collaborative potential in the world of big pharma. HWI has contracted to manage a major facility located at Argonne and owned jointly by nine large pharmaceutical firms,” said HWI’s CEO, Dr. Ed Lattman. “The management process will provide many opportunities to interest one or more of these firms in HWI technology (such as the high throughput crystallization laboratory) or drug target research.”

APS is a national synchrotron-radiation light source.  Along with crystallographers around the world, HWI scientists use the high-brilliance x-ray beams generated by the synchrotron to conduct cutting-edge research in the field of structural biology. Synchrotrons contain a large central ring around which high-energy electrons circulate, spinning off x-rays. Spaced around the wall of the ring are apertures through which x-rays are harnessed for experiments. Just outside each aperture is an experimental station containing expensive and sophisticated equipment enabling the experiments to be conducted.

"The IMCA-CAT contract is testimony to both the scientific credentials of our faculty and the depth of the management team at HWI,” Jim Biltekoff, HWI Board Chairman, said. “We look upon this as a growth opportunity for our people and a vehicle to showcase our capabilities to a wider audience."

The financial model for synchrotrons is a hybrid. The government (in the USA, this usually means the Department of Energy) pays for the ring, while experimental teams pay for the individual experimental stations. Teams may be consortia of universities or other non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, or industrial partnerships. To compensate for the subsidy contributed by the government, each experimental team has to give 25 percent of the time on its station to so-called general users, people with grants who need access to the intense X-rays and specialized equipment.

Each of these experimental stations is a significant small business, with an average of ten employees and a budget in excess of $1 million annually. HWI will manage the experimental station at Argonne known as IMCA-CAT.

What is IMCA, and what is HWI’s role?

imcaThe Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association (IMCA) is a consortium of (currently) nine firms forming a Collaborative Access Team (CAT) that has constructed, owns, and operates an experimental station, sector 17, at the Argonne APS. The principal role of the manager – HWI - is to serve as the employer of the sector staff.  Other roles include representing IMCA to the APS, monitoring performance and safety, and interfacing between the needs of the companies and the staff.  The project will primarily be run by Lattman, by Executive Vice President Dr. Walter Pangborn, and by Research Scientist Dr. Eddie Snell.  They will be supported by HWI’s finance and human resources teams under the direction of Chief Financial Officer Lisa Foti.  “There will be many opportunities for collaborating with one or more of the firms, or with IMCA-CAT as a whole, in the development or use of tools developed at HWI.  This is an exciting new opportunity for us,” Lattman said. “It will provide welcome diversification in our funding sources as well as opportunities for staff development and new collaborations with our colleagues in industry.”

 

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