George Patterson received a bachelor's degree for study in biology and research on the reproductive cycle of a freshwater mussel, Cyclonais tuberculata, from the University of North Alabama (Florence, Alabama) in 1992. In 1993, he was accepted into the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program within the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. He joined the lab of David Piston in the Department of Molecular Physiology in 1994 and was awarded a PhD in 1999 for his study of glucose metabolism in pancreatic islets of Langerhans and quantitative fluorescence imaging using fluorescent proteins. He accepted a post-doctoral position in the lab of Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz in the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health) in Bethesda, Maryland. During his post-doctoral training, he developed reagents and techniques for fluorescence imaging in the study of secretory protein trafficking. After 4 years, he accepted a staff scientist position at the NIH, where he continued work in protein trafficking, collaborative efforts with Eric Betzig and Harald Hess (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm) in development of new fluorescence imaging techniques, and collaborative work with Vladislav Verkhusha (Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Bronx, New York) in development of new fluorescence imaging reagents. He accepted a position in the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the NIH in October 2009 where he continues work on fluorescent protein development and super-resolution imaging techniques for use in cell biology applications.