Alumni gifts to fund Penn State Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center

March 01, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Inspired by the pioneering research being done in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Penn State graduate John Patton and his wife, Natalie, have committed a future gift of $2.5 million to establish the John and Natalie Patton Family Research Fund in PSETI. The endowed research fund will support research activities within the newly created Penn State Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center (PSETI). It will help to activate PSETI’s mission to create a world-class research program and to train the next generation of researchers.

Dr. John Patton and his wife Natalie

Penn State graduate John Patton and his wife, Natalie, have committed a future gift to establish the “John and Natalie Patton Family Research Fund in PSETI.”

IMAGE: Penn State

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is an international effort that stands among the most profound and inspirational quests ever pursued by humanity. Researchers involved with the effort ask the fundamental question, “Could our planet be the only technologically capable species within the Milky Way Galaxy?”

Drawing on Penn State’s existing expertise and infrastructure, PSETI will provide the administrative framework and the significant endowed funding needed to elevate SETI research activities to a new level by creating a world-class SETI research program; training the next generation of SETI researchers with a graduate curriculum; initiating a completive grants program; coordinating conferences and symposia; and establishing a worldwide SETI community.

Also inspired by Penn State’s institutional commitment to PSETI and the distinguished faculty experts in the department, an anonymous alumni couple made an additional $1 million pledge to create a new professorship in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics in support of the future research and expenditures of PSETI and cosmology at Penn State.

Patton received his bachelor’s degree from Penn State in zoology in 1967, then continued his education with a master of science in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island and a doctorate in marine biology from the University of California, San Diego. He has enjoyed a distinguished career as a leading innovator in the field of pharmaceutical therapeutics.

In 2009, Patton founded Dance Biopharm, which focuses on the development of inhaled insulin products to treat diabetes patients worldwide. He was previously the co-founder of Inhale Therapeutics (now Nektar), where he helped lead the development and FDA approval of the first inhaled insulin product. During his 18-year tenure at Inhale Therapeutics, Patton was a key driver for the company’s business development deals, participating in financings totaling more than $700 million.

Patton now serves as a member of the board of directors of Incarda Therapeutics Inc., a product-focused cardiovascular company that he co-founded. He is also a member of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Advisory Counsel, and serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Eberly College of Science at Penn State.

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence" is focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

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Last Updated March 01, 2019