Patrick Piggot, PhD (August 25, 2014)
Patrick Piggot, Ph.D., born March 17, 1941, died August 25, 2014 at age 73, was Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Temple University School of Medicine.
Dr. Piggot received his B.A. from Cambridge University and his Ph.D. from the University of London, England in 1966. He studied immunoglobulin structure under Rodney Porter, who later received the Nobel Prize. Following his PhD, Patrick was a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Luigi Gorini at Harvard Medical School and he then worked as a research scientist both at Oxford University and the National Institute of Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, England. In 1985, he joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Temple University School of Medicine
Patrick was a molecular geneticist studying the control of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis. He was known for his insightful and high quality research and he became one of the undisputed leaders in his field of research. He published over 90 research articles and was continually funded by NIH for his entire research career in the U.S. until 2012. His original research focused on determining the mechanisms for compartmentalized gene expression during spore development. These studies established concepts that not only affected spore formation, but served as a model for eukaryotic cell differentiation. In recent years, Patrick became interested in the genetic mechanisms underlying the observations that not all bacteria in a given population are the same. This led to collaborative studies resulting in a Nature paper on the importance of random mutations in Bacillus subtilis and in NIH funding to study bimodal gene expression contributing to long-term stationary phase survival of Streptococcus mutans, the organism responsible for dental caries.
During the course of these genetic studies, Patrick trained fifteen graduate students and seven post-doctoral fellows. He impressed on them the importance of high quality, well-controlled experiments and careful interpretation of data. He valued independent thinking and fostered students to develop their own ideas and test their hypotheses experimentally. His dedication to the students is reflected in the 2007 Dawn Marks Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentorship and, more importantly, the multiple students who have remained in contact with him years after graduation.
In addition to outstanding research, Patrick played an active role in teaching medical, dental, podiatric and graduate students. His lectures were thoroughly updated every year, reflecting the new and interesting concepts in bacterial genetics relevant to each group of students he taught. He was an active member of graduate committees and helped numerous students refine and formulate outstanding research projects. Finally, as a mentor, he took an active role in guiding new faculty members in grant and manuscript preparation as well as facilitating joint research meetings to the great mutual benefit of all the participants
Patrick’s organizational skills led him into serving as acting chair of the Department from 2005-2007 and Assistant Department Head of Microbiology and Immunology. He continued to serve as associate chair until this year. He also was elected and served a two-year term as President of the Eastern Pennsylvania Branch of the American Society for Microbiology from 2011-2013.
Patrick was a man of great integrity and kindness. He loved discussing family (wife Debbie, daughter Roz and son Ben), soccer, rugby, cricket, bird-watching and was always up for a good political debate. Being born on St. Patrick’s Day, his St. Patrick’s Day Birthday Party was the most anticipated yearly departmental gathering. He will be missed by all who knew him.