Faculty, staff and research students recently gathered to celebrate EPIC's four-year anniversary.

Faculty, staff and research students recently gathered to celebrate EPIC’s four-year anniversary.
Image Credit: Jim Melvin / Clemson University

CLEMSON – Since its inception four years ago, Clemson University’s Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center has grown larger and bolder in leaps and bounds.

So … why not throw a party!

Faculty, staff and student researchers did just that on Jan. 31, gathering in a long hallway inside the university’s futuristic Life Sciences Facility to celebrate EPIC’s fourth anniversary with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

And then came the cutting of the cake, which was appropriately topped with four candles.

“Four years ago today, the Board of Trustees approved the Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center,” said Lesly Temesvari, Interim Associate Dean for Research in the College of Science. “And so much has happened since. We’re really excited about the growth of EPIC. We’ve become an interdepartmental center with three departments – Biological Sciences, Genetics and Biochemistry and Physics and Astronomy – and now have more than 100 researchers. We’ve had explosive growth and are looking forward to achieving more great things in the future.”

EPIC’s mission is to “understand the molecular mechanisms regulating virulence of eukaryotic pathogens,” which are parasitic or fungal organisms that cause illness and death in hundreds of millions of people around the globe. Thus far, the bulk of the center’s funding has come courtesy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). But future funding is being sought via collaborative partnerships with industry and private foundations.

In 2016, EPIC enjoyed its most impressive year yet. Highlights included:

“Last year was an outstanding year in so many ways,” said Kerry Smith, director of EPIC. “Since we received the NIH COBRE grant last April, everything has been kind of a whirlwind, with the center increasing its numbers of faculty and staff, as well as postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students. We’re looking forward to submitting more grants to support graduate students and post-docs in EPIC and bringing in faculty from the outside with new expertise and interests.”