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September 15, 2017

Namesakes - Harland G. Wood and Wood Building

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Variously called the West Wing, the School of Medicine, and the Mather Building, the Harland Goff Wood Building is the School of Medicine Building opened in 1924.

Harland G. Wood
Harland Goff Wood was born 9/2/1907 in Delavan, Minnesota, one of six children. He graduated from Macalester College in 1931 with a B.A. in Chemistry and received the Ph.D. in Bacteriological Chemistry from Iowa State College (later Iowa State University) in 1935. He married Mildred L. Davis in 1929 and they had 3 children.

Before beginning his tenure at Western Reserve University (WRU) in 1946, he was a Fellow for the National Research Council at the University of Wisconsin, Instructor and Assistant Professor of Bacteriology at Iowa State, and Associate Professor of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. In 1946 Dean Joseph Wearn recruited Wood to the School of Medicine.

Wood came to the University as the head of the Biochemistry Department. He served as Dean of Science 1967-1969. In 1970 he was named University Professor and he retired with the title University Professor Emeritus effective 7/1/1978. At the time of mandatory retirement ages for faculty, the Board of Trustees voted to allow Wood to continue his work. He worked until his death, having an article accepted for publication on the day before his death on 9/12/1991.

As a graduate student he discovered that carbon dioxide was used by bacteria and animals, including humans. “This discovery helped to change the current scientific thinking and led to the eventual understanding of the essential unity of metabolic processes in almost all living tissues.” Wood continued his research on how carbon dioxide was incorporated into the body, “tracing pathways of metabolism and discovering whole new enzymes in the process. His findings had far-reaching implications for understanding cell biology and for the treatment and cure of metabolic diseases.” He was one of the first to use radioisotopes to view the workings of a cell.

In addition to his research work, and leadership as chair of the Biochemistry Department, he was an important figure in the Medical School’s new curriculum introduced in 1952. He was chair of the Phase 1 Committee. As Greer Williams wrote in his book, Western Reserve’s Experiment in Medical Education and Its Outcome, “In retrospect, it is a open question whether curriculum revision would ever have gone beyond the talking stage if he had not called his fifteen committeemen...together in May 1951 and told them they were going to have a long, hard summer. The CME [Committee on Medical Education] could not have found a better man to lead the charge. Wood was not a CME member and did not speak for the Dean; he was pure faculty.”

Wood was involved in many professional activities, serving as president of the American Society of Biological Chemistry and secretary general of the International Union of Biochemistry. He served on many editorial boards of professional journals. He was a member of the President’s Scientific Advisory Committee, Atomic Energy Commission Advisory Committee for Biology and Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences. Wood was a Fulbright Scholar in Australia and New Zealand and a Commonwealth Fellow in Germany. He received many awards and several honorary degrees, receiving the honorary doctor of science from CWRU at the 1991 commencement ceremony.

Special symposia were held on the occasions of Harland Wood’s 70th and 80th birthdays. “A Symposium Honoring Harland Goff Wood” was held 9/9-9/10/1977 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Opened by CWRU President Louis A. Toepfer with a welcome by Medical School Dean Frederick C. Robbins and past dean Joseph T. Wearn, convenors and speakers included Nobel laureates Carl F. Cori, Fritz Lipmann, Severo Ochoa, Arthur Kornberg, Feodor Lynen, and Konrad Bloch. Other convenors and speakers included Harry Rudney, Jerard Hurwitz, Donald R. Helinski, Paul Berg (who had yet to win the Nobel Prize), Harland Wood himself, and his brother Earl H. Wood. Held 10/22-10/23/1987, the Harland G. Wood 80th birthday party and Symposium again brought many distinguished scientists together. Seven Nobel Prize winners attended: Severo Ochoa, Arthur Kornberg, Paul Berg, H. Gobind Khorana, Konrad Bloch, David Baltimore, and Frederick C. Robbins. The Ohio Governor, Richard F. Celeste, and Cleveland Mayor George V. Voinovich sent laudatory proclamations and October 22 was declared Harland G. Wood Day.

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l-r: H. Gobind Khorana, Konrad Block, Richard Hanson, Harland Wood, Severo Ochoa, Arthur Kornberg, Paul Berg

Building
On 11/16/1992 the CWRU Board of Trustees Executive Committee voted unanimously to name the old Medical School building the Harland Goff Wood Building. This naming was not the result of a donation by Wood, his family, friends, or colleagues. It was to honor him as a great scientist and teacher.

Constructed 1922-1924, it was completed in 1924 and dedicated 10/9/1924. It was planned as part of the group of buildings known as the University Hospitals and Medical School of Western Reserve University. The Medical School building, the Power House (now the Medical Center Co.), and Animal Hospital were built first, followed by Lakeside Hospital, Babies & Chidren’s Hospital, Maternity Hospital, Hanna House, Institute of Pathology, Nurses Dormitory (Flora Mather House, Robb House, Harvey House, Lowman House), and Service Building. With the completion of the building, the Medical School moved to University Circle for the first time.

The building was used for instruction as well as research. It became known as the west wing of the Medical School after the completion of the Health Sciences Center in the late 1960s-early 1970s when Sears Tower and the East Wing (now the Robbins Building) were added to the Medical School complex. A Research Tower, added to the Wood Building, was dedicated 5/16/2003. Dr. Wood’s daughter, Louise Wood Conway, participated in the ceremony.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the use of the building after the completion of the new Health Education Campus now being built on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic.

Note: for a copy of the video of Harland Wood, Merton Utter, and Lester Krampitz (01:28:54 duration, 4.3 GB) discussing how they came to WRU and the beginning of the Biochemistry Department, contact the Archives.

Posted by hxy2 at September 15, 2017 07:06 PM

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