GREENWOOD – Seven research projects from Greenwood Genetic Center and Clemson University faculty were selected to receive the first round of funding provided by Self Regional Healthcare (SRHC).

In February, SRHC announced a partnership with Clemson and GGC to serve as the lead hospital partner in the collaborative. As part of that commitment, the hospital pledged a total of $5.6 million toward the project, including $1.2 million per year for three years to fund genetic research.

Fourteen projects were submitted from faculty at both Greenwood Genetic Center and Clemson University. Each project was evaluated by an independent team, and final selections were announced this week by Dr. Steve Skinner, director of the Greenwood Genetic Center, and Steve Kresovich, the Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Chair of Genetics/SmartState Chair of Genomics at Clemson.

Five of the funded projects focus on the understanding and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, while two proposals were combined to study improved diagnostics for hereditary cancers.

“The blending of research teams from both Clemson and GGC will allow our institutions to build on the strengths of one another,” said Skinner. “Self Regional’s commitment to supporting these endeavors is a vital part of understanding, and ultimately treating, disorders like autism and cancer that impact so many families.”

Each selected project includes team members from both Clemson and Greenwood Genetic Center. The following proposals were funded:

  • Modi Wetzler from Clemson’s department of chemistry will work on developing a therapy for autism patients who have a specific known mutation.
  • LJ Wang from Clemson’s department of genetics and biochemistry will identify genetic changes across the genome that are associated with autism spectrum disorders.
  • Charles Schwartz, GGC’s director of research, will analyze stem cells and neuronal cells to better understand their impact in autism.
  • Luigi Boccuto, assistant research scientist at GGC, will expand his work on understanding the biochemical basis of autism by studying tryptophan metabolism.
  • Anand Srivastava, GGC’s associate director of research, will be investigating genetic and metabolic targets for autism treatment.
  •  Julia Eggert from the Clemson University School of Nursing and Alka Chaubey, GGC’s Cytogenetics Laboratory director, combined their proposals to explore the use of new technology to identify genetic mutations in oncology patients.

“This announcement launches a new chapter between Clemson University and the Greenwood Genetic Center by linking research and educational opportunities to solve pressing problems in human health while simultaneously building new opportunities in economic development.” said Kresovich.

Chaubey, one of the grant recipients, said “We are all excited to begin this new phase of joint research. This collaboration allows us to not only make strides in fields such as autism which we have been actively studying for many years, but also provides the opportunity to expand our focus into other areas including oncology.”

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Clemson University
Ranked No. 21 among national public universities, Clemson University is a major, land-grant, science- and engineering-oriented research university that maintains a strong commitment to teaching and student success. Clemson is an inclusive, student-centered community characterized by high academic standards, a culture of collaboration, school spirit, and a competitive drive to excel.

Greenwood Genetic Center
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), founded in 1974, is a nonprofit organization advancing the field of medical genetics and caring for families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects.  At its home campus in Greenwood, South Carolina, a talented team of physicians and scientists provides clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources, and research in the field of medical genetics.  GGC’s faculty and staff are committed to the goal of developing preventive and curative therapies for the individuals and families they serve.  GGC extends its reach as a resource to all residents of South Carolina with satellite offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville. For more information about GGC please visit www.ggc.org.

Self Regional Healthcare
Self Regional Healthcare, a not-for-profit, regional referral and teaching hospital that provides care to residents of Greenwood, Abbeville, Laurens, Saluda, McCormick, Edgefield and Newberry counties in South Carolina. Self Regional Healthcare serves the region with a number of services including prevention and wellness, acute care and tertiary care services including cancer care, neurosurgery, heart and vascular surgery, NICU, orthopedics and genetics. Self Medical Group, Self Regional’s employed physician network affiliate, provides primary care, specialty care and hospital based care with more than 65 physicians in 22 practices.