GREENWOOD, SC – Drew Lay has been awarded the 2022 Susan R. Patterson Professional Development Award in Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics by the Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC).
The annual award recognizes the efforts of an individual at GGC whose primary professional role is to support and develop the bioinformatics and computational genomics work performed at the Center. The award will support Lay’s continuing education and professional development in the field.
Lay joined GGC as a laboratory technologist in 2015. While continuing to work full time in the lab, he completed a Master of Science degree in Bioinformatics at Johns Hopkins University.
“The field of bioinformatics has become an essential part of genomic medicine helping us manage and interpret the large data sets that are generated by today’s technologies,” said Mike Friez, PhD, Director of GGC’s Diagnostic Laboratories, who nominated Lay for the award. “Without bioinformatics, finding a diagnosis among the three billion pieces of genomic data that is present in each individual would be nearly impossible.”
Lay joined GGC’s bioinformatics department at a time when the bioinformatics team was in transition, yet Friez said that Lay’s scientific curiosity and innovative ideas allowed GGC to continue to move forward in this area.
“Drew has played a significant role in GGC’s collaboration with external organizations that provide artificial intelligence technology for genetic variant interpretation,” added Friez. “And he is a wonderful employee and colleague. Drew is the first one to jump in to help solve problems and train other personnel.”
“As the data science and healthcare fields grow, bioinformatics is going to become even more important,” said Lay. “It’s a challenging, but fun, discipline, particularly in the field of genetics, where the goal is often to help sift through large amounts of data in order to find the root cause of a disorder. Personally, it really helps me see how uniquely and complexly God created each of us to be, and hopefully the work we do can help improve the lives of our patients, their families, and our community.”
Dr. Walt Patterson, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Lander University, established the Susan R. Patterson Professional Development Award in Bioinformatics & Computational Genomics through a gift to the Greenwood Genetic Center Foundation in memory of his wife. The award serves to honor and perpetuate her lifelong devotion to the field of education in mathematics. Susan was also passionate about supporting families and children faced with genetic disorders who are served by GGC.
“I am extremely humbled to be the recipient of the Susan R. Patterson award, especially considering I am a relative newcomer to the area of bioinformatics and computational biology,” said Lay. “I would like to thank all my teammates and directors in the diagnostic labs at GGC for teaching me new things every day, and would like to give special thanks to the GGC Foundation and Dr. Walt Patterson for bringing awareness to the exciting field of bioinformatics.”