October 23, 2017

Clemson University has further enhanced its standing as a pioneer in the field of human genomics by hiring a renowned scientist to lead the way.

Groundbreaking geneticist Trudy Mackay was recently named director of Clemson’s Center for Human Genetics and has been tasked with building a team of researchers whose goal will be to significantly advance our understanding of genetic disorders.

Mackay is currently a Distinguished University Professor and Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Chair of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University.

“I am very intrigued by the new Center for Human Genetics and its partnership with the Greenwood Genetic Center,” said Mackay, who in addition to her directorship will be the Self Family Endowed Chair in Human Genetics in Clemson’s department of genetics and biochemistry. “This opportunity fits well with my own research and provides a unique opportunity to collaborate with fellow geneticists who are studying important diseases that affect human behavior and communication.”

The Center for Human Genetics, which is part of the College of Science, is housed in Self Regional Hall, a 17,000-square-foot building that opened in February 2017. The sparkling facility is nestled within the sprawling campus of the Greenwood Genetic Center, which has a long history of clinical and research excellence in the field of medical genetics and caring for families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects.

Mackay, whose numerous accolades include being a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, will be accompanied by her husband, Robert Anholt, who will join Clemson as a Provost’s Distinguished Professor in the department of genetics and biochemistry. Anholt will also have a leadership role in the College of Science as the director of Faculty Excellence Initiatives.

“Clemson University was attractive to me in several important ways,” said Anholt, who is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at N.C. State. “The opportunity to provide leadership within the College of Science – especially in promoting the careers of young scientists – was very enticing to me. And the fact that Clemson has made the development of human genetics one of its priorities was also a deciding factor.”

In addition to the myriad of professional opportunities, the dynamic duo was attracted to Clemson and Greenwood for personal reasons. Their love of horses – and of “carriage driving,” in particular – found a natural fit in the scenic woods and trails of South Carolina’s interior.

“We own two horses and not too far from Greenwood is Aiken, which is an excellent horse community,” Anholt said. “So our animals will love living here, too.”

Under the leadership of Mackay and her seasoned team of geneticists, the partnership with the Greenwood Genetic Center will have a heightened ability to quickly and efficiently translate basic research into tangible treatment options.

“Doctors Mackay and Anholt are game-changers for Clemson as we build a world-class College of Science that is both locally relevant and globally impactful,” said Cynthia Young, dean of the College of Science. “Their collaborations with current faculty at Clemson, partners at Greenwood and across the United States and world will help advance human genetics.”

Robert Jones, Clemson’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, was appreciative of the search committee’s tireless efforts in recruiting Mackay and Anholt to Clemson. “This is very exciting news for Clemson University and our partners in the Greenwood Genetic Center. Trudy and Robert are nationally renowned researchers and teachers in the area of complex genetic control of human traits and behaviors. Their work is showing us new ways to gauge susceptibility to diseases and develop new therapeutics to improve health.”

“We are thrilled with this major step forward in the development of our collaboration with the Clemson Center for Human Genetics,” added Steve Skinner, director of the Greenwood Genetic Center. “The excellent records of scientific scholarship of both Dr. Mackay and Dr. Anholt promise to lead the center toward advancements in understanding complex disorders that will ultimately benefit the field of genetics, as well as patients worldwide. We look forward to a fruitful partnership.”

Frank Wideman, president of the Self Family Foundation, concurred. “We are very excited about the selection of Dr. Mackay as the Self Family Foundation Endowed Chair. She is a perfect fit for both Clemson University and the Greenwood Genetic Center, and we look forward to having her and Dr. Anholt in Greenwood.”

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Trudy Mackay and Dr. Robert Anholt to Greenwood,” said Heather Simmons Jones, CEO of the Greenwood Partnership Alliance. “Having a National Academy of Sciences member leading the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics at the Greenwood Genetic Center Partnership Campus is an incredible hire and addition to the lauded genetics research already being done in our community. Dr. Anholt’s vast research experience and published works will round out the leadership team for the center. We look forward to working alongside them as we grow our genetic and life sciences cluster.”

William Marcotte, professor and chair of the department of genetics and biochemistry, said that the College of Science was “truly fortunate” to have such a highly qualified pair choose to come to Clemson. “We are thrilled to have Trudy and Robert joining the faculty of genetics and biochemistry. I fully expect that their leadership will be transformative for our programs in genetics.”

Both Mackay and Anholt will officially start their new positions at Clemson University on July 1, 2018, but they will begin transitioning their labs this spring. Once fully on board, they will be based in Greenwood but will split their time between Greenwood and Clemson.

Dean Young can’t wait for it all to begin. “We look forward to harnessing the power of partnership as we advance discovery, learning and engagement in human genetics.”

Greenwood Genetic Center
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), founded in 1974, is a nonprofit organization advancing the field of medical genetics and caring for families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects. At its home campus in Greenwood, a talented team of physicians and scientists provides clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources, and research in the field of medical genetics. GGC’s faculty and staff are committed to the goal of developing preventive and curative therapies for the individuals and families they serve. GGC extends its reach as a resource to all residents of South Carolina with satellite offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville.