Arts & Sciences

Patti installed as inaugural Powell Professor

Washington University in St. Louis professor Dr. Gary Patti was installed as the Michael and Tana Powell Associate Professor of Chemistry during a ceremony led by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton at the Lab Sciences Building on the Danforth Campus in St. Louis Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. Photo by Sid Hastings / WUSTL Photos

Research focuses on metabolic pathways involved in cancer, neurological disease and toxicant exposure

From the WashU Newsroom

Gary Patti has been named the Michael and Tana Powell Associate Professor of Chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. He was installed Dec. 1 in a ceremony in the Laboratory Sciences Building.

Patti is a pioneer in the field of metabolomics — the study of metabolites present within an organism, tissue or cell — and focuses his research on how the complexities of metabolism influence health and disease. In addition to his appointment in the Department of Chemistry in Arts & Sciences, he also is a member of the medicine faculty at Washington University School of Medicine.

The endowed position was made possible by a generous gift from Washington University Trustee Michael “Mike” Powell, and his wife, Tana. It is one of four such positions the couple plans to establish to benefit chemistry and related fields. The Powells have been actively engaged in supporting the university since their daughter, Landis, a 2016 Arts & Sciences graduate, began her studies in 2012.

“Mike and Tana Powell have given incredible support to the sciences at Washington University, and we are immensely grateful,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “This professorship, along with the others they have committed, are lasting tributes to their generosity and dedication to furthering the important discoveries our scientists are pursuing in chemistry and other fields — work that will have an important and long-lasting impact on human health. They are truly remarkable in their commitment to advancing the university’s research enterprise.”

“It is gratifying to see a scientist like Gary Patti recognized for his brilliant and innovative work,” said Barbara A. Schaal, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor. “His passion for metabolomics will almost certainly lead him to breakthroughs that will change lives for countless people struggling with pain and disease. This endowed professorship will allow him to pursue this work more fully, and to make significant strides in this critical field of research.”

Patti’s laboratory studies biochemical reactions underlying fundamental physiological processes to tease out the intricate inner workings of cells. He has built his research around metabolomics technologies that allow small biological molecules (metabolites) to be measured. Using instruments called mass spectrometers to detect metabolites extracted from biological samples, individual metabolites are characterized by their specific masses. The goal is to capture all of the metabolites in a cell, thereby creating metabolic profiles that can be compared between healthy and disease states. Patti uses this approach to determine unique metabolic pathways involved in conditions like cancer that might serve as novel targets for therapies.

  Read more at the Source.