Self Family Foundation creates Clemson genetics endowed chair


The Self Family Endowed Chair in Human Genetics will advance the development of novel therapeutics treating genetic disorders at the cell level. The $4 million chair is jointly funded by The Self Family Foundation and the state of South Carolina.

The researcher, to be selected, will be a leading geneticist who will work toward treatment, and preventive, diagnostic and curative tools with life-changing and economic potential.

As an established researcher also will bring external funding capabilities to expand genetic research and job creation in Greenwood.

Clemson President James F. Barker, left, shares a laugh with Matt Self and Frank J. Wideman III, president of the Self Family Foundation.
Craig Mahaffey/Clemson University

The endowed chair will allow Clemson University to build on the Greenwood Genetic Center’s potential for seamless technology transfer through opportunities for industry partners to locate in the adjoining Greenwood Research Park to support local business and economies.

Frank Wideman, president of the Self Family Foundation, said the Foundation made this commitment to honor the late Jim Self.

Self understood early on the enormous potential of research to treat and cure genetic disorders, Wideman said. It was his vision to transform Greenwood from a traditional textile town to a modern center for the life sciences.

“Mr. Self was a longtime chairman of the Self Family Foundation and a life trustee of Clemson University. He also was a founding investor in the Greenwood Genetic Center,” Wideman said. “He would be enormously proud of this example of the strong partnership between Clemson University and the Greenwood Genetic Center.”

Clemson University President James F. Barker, said the Self Family Foundation’s generosity and vision will help advance science, not only in Greenwood County, but across South Carolina and beyond.

“This gift will empower us to attract a leading geneticist to Clemson University and the Greenwood Research Park,” Barker said.

“Through this investment, the foundation will encourage research related to life-changing treatments, as well as diagnostic tools for genetic disorders,” he said. “Over the long term, we will improve treatment for countless patients.”

In June, 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 project 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.

The research has the potential to identify better treatments for chronic disorders, such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, noted for high prevalence in South Carolina.

The Self Family chair will be part of Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Science under the guidance of dean Thomas Scott.

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