GREENWOOD, S.C. -- A new partnership will establish formal collaboration among genetic researchers and Clemson University faculty at the Greenwood Genetic Center and Self Regional Healthcare, expanding an already successful working relationship.
Self Regional Healthcare will support the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics with a gift of $5.6 million over three years. The gift consists of an initial contribution of $2 million for the center's facilities and a subsequent contribution of $3.6 million to support research in genetics and human diagnostics at the facility located on the Greenwood Genetic Center campus.
"Today's announcement will create a new pipeline for genetic research," said John Pillman, chairman of the Self Regional board of trustees. "The collaboration of these three partners will ultimately connect genetic therapeutics research to patients."
Jim Pfeiffer, president and chief executive officer of Self Regional, said the partnership will accelerate the rate of innovation in genetic medicine. "This is what I like to call a win-win-win scenario," said Pfeiffer.
Steve Skinner, director of the Greenwood Genetic Center, said such collaborations are crucial to turning research advances into clinically available therapies for patients, not only in Greenwood and across South Carolina, but globally.
"This collaboration is a major step forward for patients as we combine the resources and strengths of each institution: Self's commitment to patient care, Clemson's expertise in basic scientific research and our experience with genetic disorders and treatment," Skinner said.
Self Regional and the Genetic Center have had an affiliation agreement since 1975 with the Genetic Center's clinical faculty serving as the Department of Medical Genetics for Self Regional.
Clemson University President James P. Clements said the announcement brings us a step closer to moving basic discoveries in human genetics from a research environment to a clinical setting where they can be used to diagnose and treat genetic-related human disorders.
"Clemson is proud to be part of this important collaborative effort, and we're grateful to Self Regional Healthcare for its support of our research efforts at the Greenwood Genetic Center," Clements said.
Clemson's Steve Kresovich, the Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Chair of Genetics, is responsible for overseeing research programs and managing collaborative activities between Clemson faculty and personnel at the partner institutions.
Kresovich said this unique partnership will catalyze the development of a regional research hub for human genetics research, clinical activities and provide unique training opportunities for students.
"Each group brings visions and capabilities that complement each other and will allow for the rapid establishment of truly integrated and trans-disciplinary research teams working on challenging medical problems of importance to the many stakeholders in our region," Kresovich said.
The center will address research and clinical opportunities in human diagnostics and epigenetic therapeutics advancing personalized medicine for intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and disorders of the immune and nervous systems.
Specific research will include molecular diagnostics and therapeutics, bioinformatics and computational/systems biology.
Self Regional Healthcare, as a research and lead health-care partner, will support hospital-based clinical trials and will collaborate in designated research activities.
This announcement marks Clemson's third significant development at the Greenwood Genetic Center.
In June 2013, Clemson University announced it would build a 17,000-square-foot research and education center in human genetics on nearly 15 acres donated by Greenwood County and the Greenwood Commissioners of Public Works.
The Clemson University Center for Human Genetics will expand Clemson University's genetics programs, create an internationally competitive research and development team and expand research capabilities at the Greenwood Genetic Center's J.C. Self Institute.
In November, Clemson established the Self Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Human Genetics. Jointly funded by The Self Family Foundation and the State of South Carolina the endowed chair will advance development of novel therapeutics to treat genetic disorders at the cellular level.