For Josi Rodriguez, work is underway here at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute in Buffalo. She's studying the hemoglobin in clams. The work being done at this institute, and by Rodriguez, is aimed at one day curing cancer. Rodriguez isn't from Buffalo, she's from Puerto Rico.
“It was very shocking, very hard,” said Rodriguez.
Her home was spared by Hurricane Maria, but not her PhD research.
“The university opened, eventually, but the labs were inaccessible,” said Rodriguez.
“Many of them have been working on this for several years. And when the freezers go down and they lose power for several months, they lose all of their samples,” said Bill Bauer, the education director at HWI.
The researchers at HWI, after months of trying to reach Rodriguez and two other Ph.D candidates in Puerto Rico, decided to help.
“We knew that we could immediately do something that could help their careers, help the research keep going, and basically help the health for the people of the world,” said Edward Snell, the CEO of HWI.
“It was a relief,” said Rodriguez.
For the next four months she'll complete her work in Buffalo. The research institute even brought her family to Western New York.
“I was like, ‘yes, my Ph.D is not completely lost. I have a chance. I still have a chance,’” said Rodriguez.
Researchers at Hauptman-Woodward say they've had plenty of support from the community to help Rodriguez but say Puerto Rico still needs help. They set up a donation option on their website.