Gary Patti, the Michael and Tana Powell Professor at Washington University, is the recipient of the 2023 Midwest Award. Gary is known for remarkable research achievements in the fields of metabolism and metabolomics. He is also internationally recognized for his efforts to teach metabolomics to researchers from around the world through short courses and many scientific collaborations.
Metabolomics is the newest of the “omic” sciences. It is analogous to genomics but instead of profiling all of an organism’s genes, the goal is to profile all of an organism’s metabolites (glucose, cholesterol, vitamins, and so on). Gary is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of metabolomics and has made numerous invaluable contributions to advance the field, including efforts to establish a roadmap for interpreting metabolomics results. Gary’s technique has been described as the “sword that cuts the Gordian knot” in metabolomics. He also created gold-standard software to process metabolomics data that is used by tens of thousands of researchers around the world.
Some of his most impactful achievements come from his work on cancer. Gary demonstrated — defying convention — not only that lactate can be used as a major fuel source by cancer cells, but also that it is the preferred nutrient of tumors. His work has altered the perception of lactate in cancer and revealed that the so-called Warburg effect is a result of mitochondrial overload, not mitochondrial suppression. Gary has collaborated intimately with several instrumentation companies, including ThermoFisher and Agilent Technologies, to create the first mass spectrometers specifically designed to perform metabolomics, now being used by researchers around the world.
Gary is an active participant and host for the Midwest Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group (sponsored by the Saint Louis Section–ACS), to educate both academic and industrial attendees on emerging techniques in mass spectrometry and inspire use of these technologies. He was the chair/organizer of a session at the Fall 2022 ACS Meeting on “Systems Biology and Mass Spectrometry” and was nominated by the long-range program planning committee of the Analytical Division to help bring more mass spectrometry to national ACS meetings. Gary has been an active leader in ASMS (American Society for Mass Spectrometry), teaching short courses on metabolomics.
Gary received his B.A. in Chemistry and Philosophy while undertaking research in the laboratory of Shelley Minteer. He completed his Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry with Jacob Schaefer and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at The Scripps Research Institute. He is the founder of Panome Bio, and is the Michael and Tana Powell Professor at Washington University, where he began his independent career.
The award will be conferred during the 2023 ACS Midwest/Great Lakes Regional Meeting, hosted by the Saint Louis Section October 18-21 in Saint Charles. Stay tuned for details of the award symposium and banquet.