GGC Receives SC DDSN Grant for Innovative Autism Services

The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) has been awarded $200,000 by the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (DDSN) to fund the development of an autism treatment program.

This new initiative follows GGC’s ongoing work to develop a blood-based test that can distinguish children with autism from typically-developing children. Appropriations approved by Governor Nikki Haley and the General Assembly have enabled DDSN to provide funding during the past three years for this test development.

“The blood-based test looks at several chemical disturbances in patients with an autism spectrum disorder,” said GGC’s Autism Program Director, Dr. Roger Stevenson. “We will now look at these chemical disturbances and determine if there are ways to correct or minimize their adverse effects. This new funding from DDSN allows us to move toward the goal of identifying an effective therapy for children with autism.”

An Autism Treatment Task Force has been meeting over the past six months to determine the effects of these chemical disturbances and to consider dietary and pharmaceutical interventions which may be therapeutic. Based upon recommendations from the task force, a treatment protocol will be developed by a multidisciplinary clinical team, and a laboratory team will plan how to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

“Once these pieces are in place, the stage will be set for patient recruitment for clinical trials which will occur in collaboration with Self Regional Healthcare’s Institutional Review Board, DDSN, and GGC’s Curry Chair in Genetic Therapeutics, Dr. Walter Kaufmann,” said Stevenson.

“DDSN is very pleased to be a partner in this important effort,” said Dr. Beverly Buscemi, DDSN State Director. “GGC’s research has a winning record of delivering life changing interventions and treatments that significantly improve the lives of babies, children and their families.”

The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is the state agency with authority over the provision of services and programs to people with lifelong intellectual and related disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. Primary responsibilities include planning, development and provision of a full range of services for children and adults, ensuring that all services and supports provided meet or exceed acceptable standards, and improve the quality of services and efficiency of operations. The department advocates for people with severe lifelong disabilities both as a group and as individuals, coordinates services with other agencies and promotes and implements prevention activities to reduce the occurrence of both primary and secondary disabilities. Learn more by visiting