Spinoff companies or related industries could build on the 225 acres adjacent to the Greenwood Genetic Center’s four-building campus, potentially creating a bioscience and genetics research park.
Following a vote by the Clemson University trustees, Clemson will be the park’s first resident in a $6.5 million research and education center.
After receiving her master’s degree in human genetics, student Richa Koul (left) moved to South Carolina from India to study at the Greenwood Genetic Center.
By Liz Segrist
Published May 9, 2012
What CU-ICAR is to the automotive industry, the Greenwood Genetics Center hopes to be to the human genetics field.
The Greenwood center has large tracts of undeveloped land that could be used as a research park that attracts private industry, as the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research has done in Greenville.
Richa Koul moved from India to study at Clemson University in order to do research at the Greenwood Genetics Center. (Photo/Liz Segrist)
Amy Bradley, a DNA Diagnostic Lab technologist, works in the lab at the Greenwood Genetics Center. (Photo/Liz Segrist)
The park’s first resident will be Clemson University. Late last month, university trustees approved a $6.5 million research and education center as an addition to the Clemson University/Greenwood Genetic Center.
“Our long-term goal is to foster increased education of human genetics and increased research in human genetics to benefit patients in the long-run, but also to spin-off additional interest from other research partners from industry, pharmaceutical companies and private and public partnerships,” said Dr. Steve Skinner, director of the GGC.
Founded in 1974, the Greenwood Genetic Center is a nonprofit genetic institute that focuses on human genetics, intellectual disabilities, genetic diseases and birth defects.
Clemson students already have a presence at the center with two to five graduate students working in Greenwood each year. Currently, students spend their first two years on the Clemson campus doing class work and then move to the Greenwood campus to do lab work and specific research projects under the mentorship of faculty members.
This addition would increase the capacity from two to five Clemson students up to 15 students, who could then conduct genetic research on a cellular level in Greenwood. Additionally, five Clemson professors will perform human genetics research at the center.
“We are hoping it will help us focus on moving our center and Clemson into translation research, taking things from the bench to actually helping patients,” Skinner said. “With this extra expertise, it will help us move from the bench to the bedside, bridging our research and our patients.”
This idea began seven years ago when Clemson and the center signed a memorandum to work toward growing the number of graduate students at the Greenwood campus and increasing human genetics research and collaboration between both institutions.
The project was put on hold when the recession impacted state budgets, until now. The project would be funded through state infrastructure bonds. It is pending approval from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education.
If approved, Skinner hopes to choose an architect and engineer late this year and begin drafting plans to break ground sometime in 2013.
“The goal is to eventually have a full-time graduate student program here,” Skinner said. “From an intellectual stimulation standpoint, having students at all levels, graduate and fellows, keeps ideas fresh and challenges faculty to think of new ways of doing things.”
After receiving her master’s in human genetics, student Richa Koul moved to South Carolina from India to study at the Greenwood Genetic Center.
“I didn’t want to do anything but human genetics, so had the Genetic Center not been here, I would not have gone to Clemson,” said Koul, who is in her fourth year of a doctorate program in human genetics at Clemson University. “Anyone interested in human genetics needs to be here, so they need to apply to Clemson.”
Koul hopes to take her research and education back to India and make an impact on the stigma surrounding those with intellectual disabilities.
The Greenwood campus has physicians and scientists that provide clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and research in the field of medical genetics. The team aims to develop preventive and curative therapies for the individuals and families they serve.
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The clinical division provides a variety of genetic services for patients with inherited disorders. The center’s patients are predominantly in pediatrics. A genetics consultation will review a patient’s medical and family history, perform a physical exam and discuss testing, diagnosis, inheritance and treatment options.
The diagnostic laboratories offer biochemical, cytogenetic and molecular genetic testing, helping families to understand the cause of the disorder and potential treatments or cures. Next-generation sequencing and expanding enzyme analysis testing help the clinicians make the diagnosis. The center receives samples from around the country and the world.
The JC Self Research Institute of Human Genetics is internationally known for its focus on X-linked intellectual disabilities. The research department also focuses on the genetics behind autism and the molecular composition behind split-hand and foot malformations. It has made advances to understand the genes and mutations that cause intellectual disabilities and birth defects.
The research division houses the S.C. Birth Defects Prevention Program, which reduces the incidence of birth defects, such as neural tube defects. The research division also houses the Center for Anatomic Studies, which provides fetal autopsy examinations to help both physicians and doctors understand the causes of birth defects and genetic anomalies.
The Greenwood Genetic Center is a nonprofit institute organized to provide clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources and research in the field of medical genetics. It has satellite offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville.