Recent breakthroughs in cDNA-based reverse genetics technologies have opened the door to new avenues in the design and development of effective rotavirus vaccines. John Patton's work has applied these technologies to current rotavirus vaccine strains in an effort to create new, inexpensive vaccines that can be produced in greater abundance than existing options and that will also provide better levels of protection against rotavirus illness in children of developing countries.
In recognition of his research, Patton has been named the 2023 Distinguished Faculty Research Award recipient and will present his findings and a summary of his work during the Distinguished Faculty Research Award and Lecture on May 3 at the IU Cinema building.
"It is a tremendous honor to have been named the Indiana University Distinguished Research Lecturer for 2023," Patton said. "I am especially grateful to my colleagues and friends in the Department of Biology who nominated me for this prestigious award. Most importantly, I would like to recognize the many talented students and trainees in my laboratory whose research effort made this award possible."
Patton's lecture, "Confronting the Unmet Need for Effective Childhood Vaccines," will cover the history of acute diarrheal diseases in young infants and children, the work that has been done to fight the rotavirus in the United States, and the immunization hurdles developing countries face due to limited vaccine resources.
Through genetic manipulation of the rotavirus vaccine strains, Patton and his colleagues have discovered methods of engineering vaccine viruses which may protect children against not only rotavirus illness, but also norovirus illness, the two most important causes of viral gastroenteritis globally.
After earning his Ph.D. for his work on parvovirus biology at Virginia Tech and receiving tenure and the position of associate professor at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Patton was recruited to the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, where he advanced to the role of senior investigator and chief of the Rotavirus Molecular Biology section.
In 2017 Patton joined the Department of Biology at IU, where, in addition to directing a research laboratory, he teaches an undergraduate immunology course and serves as the microbiology associate chair. Along with his responsibilities as an IU professor, Patton serves as founder and scientific consultant for GIVax, a start-up vaccine company that he helped launch in 2021.
In recognition of his groundbreaking work in the field of virology, Patton was elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2012 and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018. His research efforts in understanding rotavirus biology and developing rotavirus vaccines has been supported by awards from several major grant agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Distinguished Faculty Research Award and Lecture, co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President and IU Research, is an annual event designed to recognize the achievements of an IU Bloomington faculty member whose research makes important contributions to society. The award is accompanied by a public lecture delivered by the recipient during the spring semester.