CLEMSON — Like many teenagers starting out, Bryce Seifert (B.S. 2007, genetics) landed a job washing dishes — just not at the local diner. As a Clemson freshman, Seifert launched his research career by washing glassware in the lab of genetics professor Julia Frugoli.

Alumnus Bryce Seifert

Alumnus Bryce Seifert received the 2019 Richard King Trainee Award from the ACMG Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine for two published research papers.
Image Credit: Courtesy Bryce Seifert

“It was competitive to be an undergraduate researcher, but she graciously offered to let me start by washing dishes my first year and from there I transitioned to research,” said Seifert, who was particularly grateful to Frugoli for also helping him successfully apply for an American Society of Plant Biologists undergraduate research fellowship.  “She really helped me lay a foundation for science that I’ve used my whole career.”

While his studies were important to him – he participated in the Calhoun Honors College — Seifert found time to pursue his talent and passion for music, performing in the Clemson University Drumline of Tiger Band three out of his four years as an undergraduate.

After graduating summa cum laude, Seifert earned his doctorate from the Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, where he conducted research on the transcriptional regulation of DNA repair genes in mouse embryonic stem cells.

Today, Seifert is an American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG) Laboratory Genetics and Genomics Fellow at the Duke University School of Medicine, where he’s completing training to become a clinical lab director, a position responsible for the overall operation and administration of a facility that conducts medical tests for diseases ranging from cystic fibrosis to cancer.

In addition, Seifert said, a clinical lab director interprets and signs out the results of these tests in a written report he or she shares with the patient’s physician.

In 2019, Seifert received the Richard King Trainee Award from the ACMG Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine for two published papers titled, “Determining the clinical validity of hereditary colorectal cancer and polyposis susceptibility genes using the Clinical Genome Resource Clinical Validity Framework” and “Clinical validity assessment of genes frequently tested on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility sequencing panels.”

“I wasn’t expecting this award and I felt quite humbled to have received it because of all the hard work by so many co-authors,” Seifert said. “It really was a huge team effort.”

Frugoli wasn’t the only Clemson person to leave an indelible mark on his life. Paul Buyer, professor of music and director of percussion, taught Seifert how discipline and taking small, precise steps each day leads to long-term success.  Pastor Chris Heavner, head of Lutheran Campus Ministries, helped Seifert understand how research, band, and academics had a bigger purpose in life.

According to Seifert, his family also influenced him with their medical careers. His father Avery is a urologist and his mother Susan is a retired nurse practitioner. “Being around them gave me an appreciation and love for helping to treat human disease…by conducting research that can help develop cures and treatments for various diseases,” said Seifert, noting also that his sister Clarice (B.S. 2005, biochemistry) is a physician and faculty member at MUSC in Charleston.

Advice for current undergraduates

  • Seek out a faculty member who can help you achieve your goals.
  • “If you wish to pursue undergraduate research, don’t be afraid to wash glassware for a semester or two. You never know where it might take you.”