Physics and Astronomy professor Emil Alexov is CUSHR's 2019 Faculty Fellow.

Emil Alexov is CUSHR’s 2019 Faculty Fellow.
Image Credit: Emil Alexov

Emil Alexov, Ph.D., a professor in the Clemson University Department of Physics and Astronomy, is Clemson University School of Health Research’s newest faculty fellow. During his fellowship, he will focus on researching the genetic origin of drug addiction.

“I’m honored to be chosen as a faculty fellow because it will open a new opportunity for me and my lab to explore health related research,” Alexov said. “It will give me the chance to follow the work of clinicians and will allow me to learn more about the atmosphere in the clinical environment.”

Faculty Fellows are tenured faculty members who are embedded in a Prisma Health-Upstate department for a semester and summer to produce health-related research. Through this program, Faculty Fellows shift their focus from regular teaching duties to a comprehensive research agenda, said Clemson University Associate Vice President for Health Research Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, Ph.D.

“Dr. Alexov brings unique expertise to Clemson’s health research partnership with Prisma Health–Upstate,” said Sherrill, who also serves as the Prisma Health–Upstate chief science officer. “His research on drug addiction can have a tremendous impact on research and treatment plans.”

With the fellowship at Prisma Health Greenville Memorial Hospital, he will be working in the Department of Anesthesiology and will work to identify a genetic signature that makes some individuals predisposed to drug addiction. His work will focus on patients undergoing surgical procedures, which often require opioid-based pain management.

“The long-term goal of this work is to develop a tool that will help patients and providers choose pain medications with the safest profile for their DNA,” Alexov said.

His fellowship research is an expansion of his long-standing interests in personalized medicine and pharmacogenomics. For the past 14 years, he has carried out investigations to reveal molecular mechanisms of human diseases and how genetic variants are linked with diseases such as Snyder-Robinson syndrome and Rett syndrome. He has also researched the possibility of a specialized pill that is designed to be compatible with the individual’s DNA to help mitigate the disease’s effects on the individual.

Alexov also has appointments in Clemson’s Department of Material Sciences and Clemson’s School of Nursing in the Healthcare Genetics Ph.D. program.

He is the 10th Clemson faculty member to be appointed as a Faculty Fellow since the program began in 2014.