Dr Kate Patterson

Senior Visual Science Communications Officer

Dr Kate Patterson

Kate Patterson uses visual language to transform complex scientific concepts for a general audience. Kate is a trans-disciplinary researcher working at the interface of art and science, bringing together the historically segregated fields of technology, art and science in order to contribute new wor


Kate Patterson uses visual language to transform complex scientific concepts for a general audience. Kate is a trans-disciplinary researcher working at the interface of art and science, bringing together the historically segregated fields of technology, art and science in order to contribute new work and knowledge to the field of visual science communication.

Science can be complex, dynamic and invisible to the naked eye. Kate makes this accessible to a broad audience through the combined use of hand drawn illustration, computer generated imagery and 3D animation. Kate transforms raw scientific data using the tools of visual arts and cinematography into a form that can be used for education, communication and awareness purposes.

Kate graduated from the University of Sydney faculty of Veterinary Science in 2003 but interested in pursuing her interest in the origins of cancer, she completed a PhD in cancer biology, signal transduction at the Garvan Institute in 2009. Kate then worked as a science writer and illustrator with Professor Susan Clark in the Epigenetics Research Group at the Garvan Institute and also at the National Breast Cancer Foundation. In 2012 she was awarded an Inspiring Australia government grant to produce compelling, 3D animations on cancer and epigenetics.

Kate is a Lab Research Fellow in the 3D visualization and aesthetics laboratory at UNSW Art and Design and a Visual Communicator, Project Leader: VR Multimedia and Biomedical Animation for the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics. She also writes the Drawing From Science column as part of the Science and Technology section of  The Conversation. 




January 2017 - Keynote speaker, Australian Mathematics Trust: DigIT Critical Thinking, Creative Solutions program Macquarie University.

  • December 2016 - Invited Speaker at Bioscience Education Australia Network (BEAN) ANU, Canberra
  • August 2016 - Selected animations showcased at the Australian Museum launch for Sydney Science Festival
  • August 2016 - Speaker and co-producer of Genome Gazing, a public event funded by Inspiring Australia and Sydney Science Festival for National Science Week 2016
  • July 2016 - Invited speaker at University of Queensland Bioinformatics Winter School, visualisation stream.
  • June 2016 - Tagging DNA animation showcased at VIZBIplus VIVID ideas event.
  • October 2015 - Winner at HealthHack Sydney, producing two interactive prototypes using Minecraft and Unity game engines for visualising epigenetic data in virtual reality
  • June 2015 - Tagging DNA: Mislabelling the Cancer Genome animation launched at the VIZBIplus VIVID Sydney ideas event at Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney. 
  • June 2015 - Cancer Is Not One Disease animation showcased in "Body Image" exhibition at Burnie Art Gallery Tasmania
  • May 2015 - Invited Sub-Plenary Speaker at ARCS National Conference, Randwick Racecourse: The Science, Art and Future of Genomic Research (With Prof David Thomas and Dr Mark Cowley)
  • May 2015 - Guest Lecturer at UNSW Art and Design School Paddington: CGI Lighting the 3D environment with Maya
  • April 2015 - Guest Lecturer at UNSW Art and Design School Paddington: Principles of Scientific Visualisation and the Inspiring Australia VIZBI+ project
  • November 2014 - Cancer Is Not One Disease animation showcased in UNSW Art and Design School exhibition, "Body Image"
  • June 2014 - Cancer Is Not One Disease animation presented at the VIZBI+ VIVID Ideas event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
  • February 2014 - Produced and chaired several sessions at the National Australian Science Communicators Conference in Brisbane: 1) Sci-Art exhibition, 2) Visualization in Science Communication Panel, 3) Visual Fast forward sessions and 4) SCINEMA screening. 
  • February 2014 - Oral presentation on VIZBI+ project at the National Australian Science Communicators Conference in Brisbane. Also presented a poster and artwork from the VIZBI+ project in the Sci-Art exhibition.
  • November 2013 - Poster presentation at  Sciences and Technologies of Learning Research Fest, Sydney University
  • October 2013 - Oral presentation to a group of  Science Olympiad Students
  • September 2013 - Scientific Illustration Portfolio exhibited at the 2013 Australian Institute of Medical and Biological Illustrators, annual conference, Melbourne. (Awarded three Bronze certificates)
  • September 2013 -  Invited Speaker at St Vincent’s Symposium, Garvan Institute of Medical Research
  • August 2013 - Invited Keynote Presentation at Sydney Ideas public seminar series
  • July 2013 -  Poster presentation at Gordon Conference, Visualization in Science and Education, Smithfield, RI, USA
  • May 2013 - Poster and images provided for Inspiring Australia Booth at: Big Science – Science Communication Summit 2013: University of New South Wales
  • May 2013 - Co-Organiser and presented Lightning Talk at the VIZBI+ VIVID ideas event, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
  • March 2013 - Lightning talk and poster presentation at Visualising Biological Data conference, Boston, MA, USA

Awards and Honours

2015 - Cancer Is Not One Disease animation project awarded as a top ten finalist in the International Science Visualisation Competition: National Science Foundation Vizzies.
2013 – Awarded Registered Biomedical Illustrator (RBI) with the Australian Institute of Medical and Biological Illustrators
2012 – Inspiring Australia Grant, an Australian Government Initiative


2009 - PhD: Faculty of Medicine New South Wales University
Thesis title: Characterisation of the atypical dual specificity phosphatase DUSP26
Supervisors: Dr Philippa O’Brien (Cancer Program - Ovarian Cancer Group) and Professor Roger Daly (Cancer Program - Signal Transduction Group).
2004 – One year postgraduate clinical internship training program at the University of Sydney Teaching Hospital, Camden
2004 – Veterinary Science Post Graduate Foundation distance education course - Medical Oncology
1999 to 2003 - Bachelor of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney

Selected Publications

Patterson K, Molecules do not have colour. The Conversation, Science and Technology; February 14 2017.

Patterson K, When process becomes product: re-packing visual science communication. The Conversation, Science and Technology; September 15 2016.

Patterson K, Science by stealth: secret missions of a visual science communicator. The Conversation, Science and Technology; July 21  2016.

Patterson K, Is photoshopping science universally wrong? The Conversation, Science and Technology; June 1 2016.

Patterson K, Shifting the field of view - science stories in virtual reality, The Conversation, Science and Technology; April 12 2016.

Patterson K, Talking serious science using scissors and glue, The Conversation, Science and Technology; February 25 2016.

Patterson K, Clark S. Art and Science Combine to Reveal the Inner Workings of Our DNA. The Conversation, Science and Technology; July 21 2015.

Patterson K, Tagging DNA: Mislabelling the Cancer Genome - Biomedical Animation published to the Garvan YouTube Channel. Duration: 03:15. 12 July 2015. 

Patterson K, VIZBIplus Visualising the Future of Biomedicine. Longnecker, C. Harris & K. Madden. (Eds.). 2015. Proceedings of the Australian Science Communicators National Conference. 2–5 Feb, 2014, Brisbane.  www.asc.asn.au/publications/

Patterson K, Cancer is Not One Disease - Biomedical Animation published to the Garvan Institute YouTube Channel. Duration 04:40. 9 April 2014.

Hulf T, Sibbritt T, Wiklund ED, Patterson K, Song JZ, Stirzaker C, Qu W, Nair S, Horvath LG, Armstrong NJ, Kench JG, Sutherland RL, Clark SJ. Epigenetic-induced repression of microRNA-205 is associated with MED1 activation and a poorer prognosis in localized prostate cancer. Oncogene. 2013; 32(23):2891-9.

Gloss BS, Patterson KI, Barton CA, Gonzalez M, Scurry JP, Hacker NF, Sutherland RL, O'Brien PM, Clark SJ. Integrative genome-wide expression and promoter DNA methylation profiling identifies a potential novel panel of ovarian cancer epigenetic biomarkers. Cancer Lett. 2012; 318(1):76-85.

Valdés-Mora F, Song JZ, Statham AL, Strbenac D, Robinson MD, Nair SS, Patterson KI, Tremethick DJ, Stirzaker C, Clark SJ. Acetylation of H2A.Z is a key epigenetic modification associated with gene deregulation and epigenetic remodeling in cancer. Genome Res. 2012; 22(2):307-21.

Devaney J, Stirzaker C, Qu W, Song JZ, Statham AL, Patterson KI, Horvath LG, Tabor B, Coolen MW, Hulf T, Kench JG, Henshall SM, Pe Benito R, Haynes AM, Mayor R, Peinado MA, Sutherland RL, Clark SJ. Epigenetic deregulation across chromosome 2q14.2 differentiates normal from prostate cancer and provides a regional panel of novel DNA methylation cancer biomarkers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011; 20(1):148-59.

Wang L, Chen H, Liu F, Madigan MC, Power CA, Hao J, Patterson KI, Pourgholami MH, O'Brien PM, Perkins AC, Li Y. Monoclonal antibody targeting MUC1 and increasing sensitivity to docetaxel as a novel strategy in treating human epithelial ovarian cancer. Cancer Lett. 2011; 300(2):122-33.

Patterson KI, Molloy L, Qu W, Clark SJ. DNA methylation: bisulphite modification and analysis. J Vis Exp. 2011; 56: e3170.
Patterson KI, Brummer T, Daly RJ, O'Brien PM. DUSP26 negatively affects the proliferation of epithelial cells, an effect not mediated by dephosphorylation of MAPKs. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010; 1803(9):1003-12.

Wang L, Madigan MC, Chen H, Liu F, Patterson KI, Beretov J, O'Brien PM, Li Y. Expression of urokinase plasminogen activator and its receptor in advanced epithelial ovarian cancer patients. Gynecol Oncol. 2009; 114(2):265-72.

Patterson KI, Brummer T, O'Brien PM, Daly RJ. Dual-specificity phosphatases: critical regulators with diverse cellular targets. Biochem J. 2009; 418(3):475-89.

O'Brien PM, Davies MJ, Scurry JP, Smith AN, Barton CA, Henderson MJ, Saunders DN, Gloss BS, Patterson KI, Clancy JL, Heinzelmann-Schwarz VA, Murali R, Scolyer RA, Zeng Y, Williams ED, Scurr L, Defazio A, Quinn DI, Watts CK, Hacker NF, Henshall SM, Sutherland RL. The E3 ubiquitin ligase EDD is an adverse prognostic factor for serous epithelial ovarian cancer and modulates cisplatin resistance in vitro. Br J Cancer. 2009; 98(6):1085-93.