Patricia Dranchak joined the Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation at NCATS as a lead biologist in 2010 to support James Inglese, Ph.D., in establishing the Center’s Assay Development and Screening Technology Laboratory. She earned her Ph.D. in comparative and molecular biosciences at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, under James Mickelson, Ph.D. During this time, Dranchak worked to map the genetic locus of exertional rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of muscle from extreme exertion, in equines.
Further expanding her molecular genetics and genomics expertise, Dranchak acquired postdoctoral training at the Institute for Genetic Medicine at the University of Southern California with Joseph G. Hacia, Ph.D. There, her primary research focused on comparative genomics of lipid metabolism, and she initiated candidate small molecule testing for therapeutic intervention for inherited peroxisomal disorders. This initial exposure to therapeutic testing and interest in rare pediatric diseases led Dranchak to seek a career focused on these initiatives at NCATS.
Dranchak’s primary research focuses on early-stage translational science, with an emphasis on assay development for quantitative high-throughput screening and lead validation strategies. She works closely with NIH and extramural collaborators on programs encompassing various pathophysiologies, including peripheral neuropathies, neurological and metabolic disorders, and several neglected tropical diseases. Her work focuses on target-based biochemical assays incorporating a number of different detection technologies. Dranchak also optimizes cell-based assay systems derived from genetically modified cell lines designed to model aspects of disease phenotypes. These cellular assays have made use of the laboratory’s coincidence reporter system designed for increasing the efficiency of large-scale chemical library screening, as well as high-content imaging and laser cytometry measurement approaches.