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Life Sciences Leader Spotlight

Thornton Kirby for Spotlight


Thornton Kirby, FACHE
President and CEO; South Carolina Hospital Association 

What is your personal mission?

To improve the quality and safety of healthcare in America, and particularly in my home state of South Carolina. 

Get to know Thornton Kirby

Currently Reading

The Devil’s Ransom by Brad Taylor

Favorite Place

Underwater, just about anywhere. Cozumel, for example. 

Favorite Movie or Show

The Hunt for Red October 

Career Aspiration as a Child

         Quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys

Favorite Quote

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch


Columbia, SC


What is your philosophy on leadership? 

Relationships are essential to solving society’s toughest challenges. I’m a consensus builder, and I think my strength is in bringing together diverse groups who don’t typically work together. South Carolina is a relationship state, and we have tremendous opportunities to improve healthcare if we build on the relationships we all have.



Facts about your company

  • 39 employees
  • Representing 94 hospitals
  • Focused on improving health outcomes for all South Carolinians
  • Working to eliminate all forms of preventable harm in healthcare
  • SCHA’s Zero Harm Awards are unique—our work to eliminate preventable harm has enabled our state’s hospitals to earn 1500 Zero Harm Awards over the last decade, each one recognizing 12 consecutive months without a serious harm event.


Tell us about your role in SC’s Life Sciences Ecosystem…

Life sciences companies discover and commercialize innovative products and services to improve health. SCHA’s member hospitals deliver those innovations to patients across South Carolina 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


Tell us what value and benefits your organization is receiving through membership in SCbio…

Better connectivity between life sciences companies and the hospitals that will eventually use their products to improve care.


 What are you focused on in the next year?

Better connectivity between life sciences companies and the hospitals that will eventually use their products to improve care.

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.