George Harold Patterson, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Biophotonics Section


Building 13, Room 3E33
13 South Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892


Research Topics

The NIBIB Section on Biophotonics develops probes and techniques for use in diffraction limited and sub-diffraction limited fluorescence imaging of cells and tissues. These include Photo-activated localization microscopy (PALM) and other molecular localization techniques which are based on imaging of single fluorescent molecules and Multi-focal Structured Illumination Microscopy (MSIM) which is based on exciting fluorophores with an array of diffraction-limited spots followed processing to achieve an approximately 2-fold improvement in resolution. Major emphasis is placed on developing new and improving existing genetically encoded fluorescent proteins for use as markers and sensors. This approach utilizes structure based mutagenesis followed by spectroscopy and imaging characterization of the variants. Methods and technologies include multi-photon excitation microscopy, confocal microscopy, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, and widefield microscopy, single molecule imaging, fluorescence spectroscopy, and protein engineering.


George Patterson received a bachelor's degree for study in biology and research on the reproductive cycle of a freshwater mussel, Cyclonais tuberculata, from the University of North Alabama (Florence, Alabama) in 1992. In 1993, he was accepted into the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program within the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. He joined the lab of David Piston in the Department of Molecular Physiology in 1994 and was awarded a PhD in 1999 for his study of glucose metabolism in pancreatic islets of Langerhans and quantitative fluorescence imaging using fluorescent proteins. He accepted a post-doctoral position in the lab of Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz in the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health) in Bethesda, Maryland. During his post-doctoral training, he developed reagents and techniques for fluorescence imaging in the study of secretory protein trafficking. After 4 years, he accepted a staff scientist position at the NIH, where he continued work in protein trafficking, collaborative efforts with Eric Betzig and Harald Hess (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm) in development of new fluorescence imaging techniques, and collaborative work with Vladislav Verkhusha (Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Bronx, New York) in development of new fluorescence imaging reagents. He accepted a position in the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the NIH in October 2009 where he continues work on fluorescent protein development and super-resolution imaging techniques for use in cell biology applications.

Selected Publications

  1. Ojha N, Rainey KH, Patterson GH. Imaging of fluorescence anisotropy during photoswitching provides a simple readout for protein self-association. Nat Commun. 2020;11(1):21.

  2. Rainey KH, Patterson GH. Photoswitching FRET to monitor protein-protein interactions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019;116(3):864-873.

  3. Fu Y, Winter PW, Rojas R, Wang V, McAuliffe M, Patterson GH. Axial superresolution via multiangle TIRF microscopy with sequential imaging and photobleaching. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113(16):4368-73.

  4. Ingaramo M, York AG, Andrade EJ, Rainey K, Patterson GH. Two-photon-like microscopy with orders-of-magnitude lower illumination intensity via two-step fluorescence. Nat Commun. 2015;6:8184.

  5. Ingaramo M, York AG, Wawrzusin P, Milberg O, Hong A, Weigert R, Shroff H, Patterson GH. Two-photon excitation improves multifocal structured illumination microscopy in thick scattering tissue. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(14):5254-9.

This page was last updated on June 9th, 2021