Dr. Richard Steet Named as New Director of Research at GGC
GREENWOOD, South Carolina – The Greenwood Genetic Center has named Richard Steet, PhD as Director of
Research and Head of the JC Self Research Institute. He joins the GGC faculty from the University of Georgia where he was Professor of Biochemistry
and Molecular Biology in the University’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.
Steet’s research program, which is funded by the NIH and private foundations, is focused on defining disease mechanisms for two different classes of inherited
diseases - lysosomal storage disorders and congenital disorders of glycosylation. Dr. Steet is also a dedicated advocate of rare disease research and
serves on the scientific advisory boards for the National MPS Society and ISMRD, two organizations that provide family support and advance research.
“I am thrilled to become part of the world-renowned Greenwood Genetic Center, and I look forward to collaborating with their clinical and diagnostic divisions
to enhance our understanding of the genetic basis for birth defects and disabilities,” said Steet.
Steet’s additional goals for the Center’s Research Division include integrating the Center’s strengths in basic science research with clinical and translational
studies. He also plans to enhance partnerships with pharmaceutical companies that can drive therapeutic development for genetic disorders.
Steet and Heather Flanagan-Steet, PhD
, who also joins GGC’s faculty as Director of Functional
Studies and Director of the Center’s new Aquaculture Facility, study both cell and animal-based models of human disease. Their work uses a combination
of chemical, molecular, and developmental approaches to unravel the complexity of these disorders and explore new ways to treat them. Their efforts
will dovetail in many ways with the mission of the Clemson Center for Human Genetics
located adjacent to the JC Self Research Institute.
The Steets have been working with GGC over the past several months to set up a new aquaculture facility at the Center that, once fully operational, will
house over 10,000 zebrafish. The facility, along with a new confocal microscope, which will arrive at GGC this fall, will allow in depth characterization
of zebrafish models for several human genetic diseases. Their zebrafish and cell models will be further leveraged to study challenging cases seen in
the clinic and diagnostic labs.
“Zebrafish, who share approximately 70% of their genes with humans, are a powerful model organism for genetic disorders,” shared Flanagan-Steet. “Since
zebrafish embryos are clear, we can observe their development from the very beginning and learn how genetic factors lead to the disease-associated
features that we see in patients.”
“GGC is fortunate to have the expertise of both Dr. Steet and Dr. Flanagan-Steet, and we are excited as our research program expands to include our first
animal model,” said Steve Skinner, MD
, Director of GGC. “The potential of this new area of
study is tremendous, and what we learn through their lab will undoubtedly move us closer to developing effective treatments for patients with rare
Steet assumes the directorship from Charles Schwartz, PhD
who joined GGC in 1985 as the Director
of the Center’s Molecular Laboratory, and shifted his focus to lead research initiatives in 1996. Schwartz earned an international reputation in the
area of X-linked intellectual disability. He remains on GGC faculty as a Senior Research Scientist.
Photo above: Dr. Richard Steet and Dr. Heather Flanagan-Steet inspect a tank of zebrafish in GGC’s new Aquaculture Facility