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Patterson Named Searle Scholar

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Randen Patterson, assistant professor of biology, recently was named a Searle Scholar. The Searle Scholars Program was established at The Chicago Community Trust in 1980 in honor of John G. Searle, grandson of the founder of the G.D. Searle & Company Pharmaceuticals, and his wife. The program recognizes fifteen exceptional young faculty members each year and supports independent research in medicine, chemistry, and the biological sciences.

Patterson uses novel imaging techniques along with advanced molecular and cell-biological approaches to validate the bioinformatical algorithms developed in his laboratory. Patterson developed an algorithm known as the Gestalt Domain Detection Algorithm (GDDA) with Damian van Rossum, a postdoctoral scholar in the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. Currently, due to the predictive abilities of GDDA, Patterson is approaching a whole new set of questions including evolutionary questions addressing the origins of life and the structure-and-function relationships of entire proteomes of viruses such as HIV and influenza. He hopes the information deciphered by this algorithm will be a valuable resource for drug design and bio-engineering.

"The keys to understanding the way proteins take shape, how they function, and how they evolved are all encoded in the primary sequence of the protein," says Patterson. “We are focused on developing ways to decode this information in a standardized fashion that will enable researchers to conduct comparative analyses of proteins.” Patterson also has studied processes that are mediated by the inositol-triphosphate (IP3) receptor and the transient-receptor-potential channel (TRPC). He is particularly interested in understanding the protein complex that exists between these two developmental proteins and how the proteins are regulated, either by one another or by other proteins in the complex.

Prior to joining Penn State in July 2004, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University from 2000 to 2004 in the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, with Solomon Snyder serving as his postdoctoral advisor. He was also a technician in Dr. Mark Donowitz’s laboratory (1997-1999) at Johns Hopkins while pursuing his doctoral degree at the University of Maryland, which he received in 2001.

Patterson received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Edinboro State University in 1994, a master’s degree in chemistry from Youngstown State University in 1997, and a doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Maryland in 2000.

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