Last updated: July 05. 2014 6:16AM - 95 Views

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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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