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Clemson Wins $2M Pledge toward Endowed Chair in Human Genetics

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Clemson University has received a $2 million pledge from the Self Family Foundation toward funding an endowed chair in human genetics — a promise that hinges on the university and state matching the funding.

The university said in a statement it is counting on its relationship with the nonprofit Greenwood (S.C.) Genetic Center to help it attract "a prominent geneticist-scientist in human genetics" to fill the endowed chair.

Foundation chair Virginia Preston Self is the daughter of Jim Self, who joined with Roger Stevenson to establish the Greenwood Genetics Center more than 35 years ago. The center carries out clinical genetic services and laboratory testing — as well as research through its J. C. Self Research Institute of Human Genetics, which focuses on the causes, treatment, and prevention of birth defects and intellectual disability. Researchers from the institute serve as adjunct faculty for Clemson's PhD program in human genetics.

"We hope our pledge will help realize his dream of diversifying Greenwood's economy and forging an ever stronger relationship between two institutions he deeply cared for," Self said in the statement.

Matching funds traditionally came from South Carolina's state government, but it has suspended the program due to revenue shortfalls. Previously, South Carolina's Research Centers of Economic Excellence program used $30 million annually from state lottery funds to help state universities recruit top scientists and develop Centers of Economic Excellence focusing on research and economic development.

The genetic center, Clemson, and the public-private Greenwood Partnership Alliance have begun raising funds to create a Center of Economic Excellence in Human Genetics that would combine their offerings in research, human genetics education, health service, and community outreach. Clemson also said it would seek state funds through the South Carolina Research University Infrastructure Act to build a graduate education center on the Greenwood Genetic Center campus.

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