The Self Family Foundation, a longtime supporter of the Greenwood Genetic Center, has provided a $72,000 grant to upgrade the Center's computational and bioinformatics capabilities. Frank Wideman, President of the Self Family Foundation, presented the check to GGC Director, Dr. Steve Skinner and GGC Diagnostic Lab Director, Dr. Mike Friez.
"Bioinformatics is a field that uses complex computer science tools to analyze biological data," shared Friez. "New technologies in genetics generate extraordinary amounts of data for both the diagnostic and research labs. In order for this technology to benefit our patients, we must have the computing capabilities to analyze and interpret this vast information in the most efficient manner."
GGC is the only laboratory in SC providing this high-level testing, called next-generation sequencing (NGS) for patients with disabilities.
NGS testing allows for the analysis of multiple genes at one time to help make a diagnosis and guide treatment. Ten NGS tests are currently available through GGC including panels of genes for autism, X-linked intellectual disability and skeletal disorders. Recently, the lab also began offering whole exome sequencing which analyzes all 20,000 genes in the human genome.
All of these tests require extensive bioinformatics support which, in turn requires large computer clusters and servers that are dedicated to analyzing patient data and identifying variations that may be clinically important.
"The work being done by the scientists at the Genetic Center is nothing short of astounding," said Wideman. "The Self Family Foundation is proud to be a partner, and provide the tools necessary for these technologies to have a direct impact on patients."
"We are so pleased to support GGC's Diagnostic Services in acquiring the system upgrades they need." said Victoria Hann, Director of Development for the GGC Foundation. "The Self Family Foundation responded immediately to this request, and is committed to engaging other partners to ensure that GGC has the cutting edge equipment, resources and people required to perform in today's delivery of genetic services."
Photo: L-R Dr. Mike Friez, Director of GGC's Diagnostic Laboratories, Frank Wideman President of the Self Family Foundation, and Dr. Steve Skinner, GGC Director.