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Genetics giant

School of Medicine Greenville professor leads national genetics organization

The field of genetics and molecular cytogenetics continues to grow and become more important in diagnosing and treating medical conditions, and those advances come with a responsibility to establish safeguards and standards.

Robert Best, a medical geneticist and professor at the USC School of Medicine Greenville, has been a major contributor to the fields of cytogenetics and bioethics.

Last fall, Best was tapped to serve as interim CEO of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. The ACMG sets medical standards to guide the use of new technologies in medical genomics, fosters training for new medi­cal genetics professionals and establishes standards and procedures for patient care and clinical laboratory work. It is the only nationally recognized U.S. medical professional organization solely dedicated to improving health through the practice of medical genetics and genomics.

Best is one of the organization’s founding fellows. A faculty member at USC since 1987, he currently serves 
as director of the medical school’s genetics division, where he oversees the regional genetics center with active programs in genetic counseling, prenatal screening and laboratory medicine.

In 2011, he joined the USC School of Medicine Greenville. Some of his recent work there has centered on laboratory medicine, genetic counseling and bioethics. This has included serving as the chair of ACMG’s Work Group for Stewardship of Patient Genomic Data and the development of practice guidelines for prenatal aneuploidy screening.

Since the 1980s, he has been researching the use of folic acid as a way to decrease the risk of neural tube defect in infants. He was part of a statewide CDC-funded prospective study that looked at the use of folic acid to decrease the recurrence of these serious birth defects in families who have experienced one in a previous pregnancy.

In his latest faculty role at the medical school in Greenville, Best has been a mentor to medical students, helping future doctors in cutting-edge research.