Hundreds of nation’s industry leaders to gather for strategic partnership development, insights see more
With the biggest story of 2021 – the global COVID-19 pandemic – serving as a backdrop, the largest life sciences conference in Palmetto State history will convene both in-person and virtually February 22-24 to address how South Carolina and America are accepting the challenge of achieving health and prosperity for all, South Carolina life sciences industry officials have announced.
Themed “Challenge Accepted,” the 2-day SCBIO 2022 event will feature national speaker sessions on Transformational Technologies, Next Generation Patient Care, Ensuring Opportunity for All, and Embracing Collaboration & Innovation – fundamental forces driving the state’s fastest growing industry: life sciences.
Currently listed as a $12 billion industry, national economist Dr. Joseph Von Nessen of University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business will report findings of a just-completed economic impact study of the state’s life sciences cluster, last analyzed in 2017.
FDA Associate Director of the CDER Drug Shortage Staff Valerie Jensen is the first announced featured major speaker for the 2-day conference, addressing the gathering in a Program “Challenge Accepted: Delivering Next Generation Care to Patients Now.” A trained clinical pharmacist, Captain Jensen was one of the initial developers of FDA’s Drug Shortage Program and was named Associate Director in 2012. She continues to manage the Drug Shortage Staff at FDA. Joined by MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley, Velocity Clinical Research executive Steve Clemons, and USC Provost Dr. Stephen Cutler, the panel will focus on the industry’s success in to expediting development of medicine, devices, technologies and vaccines in record time and with startling efficacy – and what it means for care around the world going forward.
Captain Jensen will be joined by more than 25 additional presenters and honorees at SCBIO 2022, which brings together leaders and executives from life science organizations across the nation to South Carolina. In deference to the pandemic, FDA protocols on safety are being rigorously adhered to and events are also being presented and distributed virtually, organizers revealed.
The conference will feature a significantly expanded exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry businesses, institutions of higher learning and essential support industry partners from across America, as well as presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2021 Organization of the Year and Individual of the Year. Also to be honored with Pinnacle Awards will be an inductee into the SC Life Sciences Hall of Fame, and an award for an industry Rising Star under 40 years of age.
New SCBIO CEO James Chappell will deliver a highly anticipated “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, while hundreds of in-person and virtual attendees will take advantage of meetings and connection sessions through the conference’s Partnering Portal. Additional speakers will be announced shortly, as well as posted online.
Registration to attend the 2-day conference is now open online. For more details, visit the 2022 Annual Conference section at www.scbio.org. Registration and exhibiting are free to many SCBIO investors. Early bird general admission pricing provides significant discounts to interested companies, industry supporters, students interested in life sciences, faculty and teachers. Limited Exhibit space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2-day conference annually draws attendees from across America for networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making and strategic discussion. Already committed attendees include officials across a broad spectrum of life sciences industries including medical devices, bio manufacturing, drug discovery, R&D, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and testing, digital health and health IT, bio-ag and more.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has more than 700 firms directly involved and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. In early 2021, Governor Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order making it a state priority to continue to grow and expand the life sciences industry in the Palmetto State.
“Life sciences is a major driver of South Carolina’s economy, and this conference’s growth is testament to the industry’s surging impact, reach and rapidly rising economic significance in our state and region,” noted SCBIO President and CEO James Chappell. “Already accounting for thousands of highly-skilled jobs in the Palmetto State, this sector has tremendous growth potential, and we’re excited to showcase top companies, research universities and leaders from across our state and country at SCBIO 2022.”
Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating in the conference are Nephron Pharmaceuticals, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and economic development entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.
As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include academic institutions, biotech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products that transform how we heal, fuel and feed the world.
For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.
Workforce development in life sciences in SC takes another step forward see more
Clemson University has introduced a new Master of Science in Medical Device Reprocessing program open to graduates holding a bachelor’s degree in STEM disciplines.
Designed by industry experts, the yearlong, 30 credit hour program emphasizes optimizing and validating biomedical technologies to support safe reuse of medical devices and healthcare products. Integrating fundamental principles of bioengineering, industrial engineering, medical device design and quality science, the curriculum is eleven graduate-level courses and an immersion/training experience in research or industry. Students enter the asynchronously offered online program in the fall semester and graduate the following summer after an industry internship or mentored research on a medical device reprocessing team.
Medical device “reprocessing” involves the cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization of medical devices after each use. Reprocessing is an essential practice in healthcare delivery and plays a key role in the more than 100 million surgical procedures in the U.S. each year. The Master of Science degree program in Medical Device Reprocessing curriculum provides skills to innovate solutions that address global challenges affecting medical device safety and healthcare sustainability.
The degree program is based on a core curriculum applying knowledge of fundamental principles of bioengineering and industrial engineering; medical device design; and quality science in an industry immersion/training program along with relevant science and engineering applications.
The goal is to prepare globally engaged students to be innovative industry leaders in sustainable biomedical technology through training in modern reprocessing and sterilization technologies, quality science, and human factors in healthcare Graduates will be able to integrate and apply knowledge of:
- medical device design principles to enable reprocessing
- human factors engineering
- the science of sterilization and its impact on materials
- microbiology and the role of process validation and controls
- systems engineering
- supply chain management and
- Six Sigma quality control and regulatory science.
For additional information, candidates and employers are invited to contact Melinda Harman, Ph.D., Program Director & Associate Professor of Bioengineering by email at email@example.com or by calling 864-656-4140.
Premier Medical Laboratory Services, in Partnership with the Clemson University, Reports Omicron Variant Now Present in Upstate, SCPremier Medical, Clemson detect latest variant in Upstate region see more
December 20, 2021 – Today, Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), headquartered in Greenville, SC, reports their findings that the Omicron variant is now confirmed to be present in the Upstate. The laboratory has been surveilling for Omicron and other novel variants through Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in partnership with the Clemson University Bioengineering Department. Clemson University REDDI Lab has collected samples for COVID-19 testing from throughout the upstate community and was funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to then have the COVID-19 positive specimens undergo NGS at PMLS. NGS is the process of decoding the genetic make-up of the virus to track how it is mutating and spreading throughout the population.
“As a proactive and solutions-driven company, we implemented Next Generation Sequencing to meet the needs of our population with preparedness for novel variants like Omicron,” said Kevin Murdock, CEO and Founder of Premier Medical Laboratory Services. “Through partnerships like ours with Clemson University, we are happy to increase the amount of data for South Carolina and the entire nation which is vital for vaccine efficacy and our understanding of the virus.”
Knowing the importance of accumulating data in the continued fight against the pandemic, PMLS implemented one of the largest sequencing initiatives among any lab in the nation – with the capability to sequence up to 42,000 samples per week. Many labs that are conducting COVID-19 testing have not developed the capabilities to conduct sequencing, and new variants cannot be fully identified via COVID-19 diagnostic testing methods alone. PMLS will continue working to uncover any further novel variants and mutations that COVID-19 presents and notify health officials.
Other ways PMLS has helped to meet demands during the pandemic:
- Processing lab for Human Health Services surge sites and several state health departments
- Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred COVID-19 testing lab in several states
- Reached one of the highest testing capacities in the nation with the capability to process over 300,000 tests per day
- Developed medical data management software that communicates directly from laboratory equipment for faster HIPAA compliant delivery of data to healthcare providers and patients
- Shifted production to add in-house manufacturing of COVID-19 testing kits
- Donated thousands of COVID-19 tests to children's diabetes summer camps throughout the nation
- Donated hundreds of thousands of masks to local law enforcement, paramedics, fire departments, hospitals, and the Shriners organization and has provided free testing to first responders during the pandemic
For more information, please visit www.premedinc.com or call 1.866.800.5470.
ABOUT PREMIER MEDICAL LABORATORY SERVICES
Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), based in Greenville, South Carolina, is an advanced molecular diagnostics lab fully certified by top laboratory accrediting organizations, including CLIA and COLA. With the most advanced laboratory information systems (LIS) easy to read one-page test result reports are generated with higher accuracy and a customizable report for each client. PMLS prides itself on having some of the most rapid turnaround times for testing results in the industry. Their expansive testing menu includes Pharmacogenomics, COVID-19 testing, Advanced Cardiovascular Testing, Diabetes, Women's Wellness panels, Allergen Specific Ige Blood Testing, Toxicology, and highly advanced diabetes test, MDDiabeticPro. For more information, please visit www.PreMedInc.com
GSSM Honors Dr. Delphine Dean of Clemson University with 2021 Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Research Leadership AwardDr. Delphine Dean of Clemson honored see more
The Governor’s School for Science + Mathematics (GSSM) was pleased to award the Fall 2021 Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Leadership Award to Dr. Delphine Dean of Clemson University at the 33rd Annual Research Colloquium.
Dr. Delphine Dean is the Rob and Jane Lindsay Family Innovation Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University. Dr. Dean earned her B.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined the Clemson University faculty in 2007. She is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, Materials Research Society, Biomedical Engineering Society, Society for Biomaterials, American Society for Engineering Education, the Orthopaedics Research Society, and is one of the newest members of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows. Dr. Dean is a recipient of the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence from Clemson University.
Dr. Dean’s Multiscale Bioelectromechanics Lab at Clemson University studies the mechanics and interactions of biological systems at the nano-to micro-scale using techniques like atomic force microscopy and mathematical modeling. Her research focus includes the nanostructure of cardiovascular cells and tissues, the effects of ionizing radiation, and the development of novel medical devices. These innovations include saliva-based blood glucose strips that can be read by a smartphone application and a biodegradable marker for tumor localization that reduces the cost of breast cancer surgery.
Many of the projects led by Dr. Dean address needs in under-resourced communities around the world – a commitment aligned with that of GSSM’s mission to develop “ethical leaders” prepared to take on “the world’s most significant issues.” These efforts include a breast pump with a filter to inactivate HIV in breast milk, basket-woven braces for neck injuries that can be produced and sold by local women in Tanzania, and a low-cost patient monitor that a hand crank can power.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Dean led the establishment of the certified clinical diagnostic Research and Education in Disease Diagnosis and Intervention lab at Clemson, which is key to Clemson’s COVID-19 testing strategy, as well as providing testing for their surrounding community. She also led the Clemson COVID Challenge, an undergraduate research, and design challenge to address issues related to the pandemic.
A core element of Dr. Dean’s work has been to engage students below the graduate school level with challenging and meaningful projects. Dr. Dean has provided mentored research & inquiry experience to over a dozen GSSM students since 2008 and over 150 Clemson undergraduates through Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program. Current student projects include designing medical devices for the developing world, collaborating on biomedical engineering innovation with students in Tanzania, testing radiation for biomedical applications, using magnetic nanoparticles to reduce the need for arterial stent implants, and applying human factors engineering to medical device design.
The Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Research Leadership Award is presented to Dr. Dean by Dr. Tyler Harvey. Dr. Harvey is a GSSM Class of 2011 graduate. As a rising senior at GSSM, he conducted his mentored research & inquiry experience at Clemson University under Dr. Dean. He returned to Clemson, earning his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. while continuing research with Dr. Dean. Dr. Harvey is currently a Lecturer in Bioengineering at Clemson University and has contributed to the development of GSSM Outreach & STEM Foundations programs.
Experts from Clemson, Rymedi, Diversified Medical and SCBIO address SC Manufacturing Conference see more
Before leaving his post at Louisiana Economic Development, South Carolina native James Chappell was a skeptic.
“Every state thinks they are going to succeed in life sciences,” Chappell said, unsure whether the Palmetto State has what it takes. “I started kind of doing my research, and I was blown away with all the things that have happened in South Carolina since I left, specifically in the life sciences industry. I was even more blown away by the last few days here and meeting a lot of people on this stage and the companies that have had unbelievable success, some in just a couple of years. I knew I made the right decision.”
The new SCBIO chief gestured to other life science leaders from around the state on the stage with him Thursday at the S.C. Manufacturing Conference and Expo: Rymedi’s David Stefanich, Clemson University’s Cynthia Young and Diversified Medical Healthcare’s Austin Shirley.
“Do you remember when BMW came to South Carolina? Do you remember before Boeing?” Chappell asked. “That’s what’s happening now, but it’s in the life sciences. Let’s look at that trend. If we keep doing the job that we should be doing, we can look back in 10 or 20 years, and the way people think about those manufacturers, they’ll think about the life sciences.”
Biotech startup receives top honors in category see more
Elastrin Therapeutics of Simpsonville, SC has been named winner of the 2021 InnoVision Award for Technology Development, organizers have announced.
Elastrin Therapeutics is a biotech startup with technologies to restore hardened and damaged arteries and tissue by targeting the elastic fiber that makes them work.
Founded by Mr.Douglas Mulhall, Dr.Naren Vyavahare, Dr.Charles D. Rice, and Dr. Mirko Stange, the SCRA Client Company has demonstrated proof-of-concept for a patented therapeutic compound that may provide needed repair and restorative function to lungs that have been damaged by the COVID-19 virus. According to Vyavahare, “Elastin is present in lung alveoli that are being degraded by enzymes such as neutrophil elastases and MMPs released by inflammatory cells in COVID-19 infection of lungs. Our elastin targeting nanoparticle can also target drugs to the lungs and prevent lung injury.
Accolades pour in for celebrated Clemson educator and leader see more
Clemson University's Dr. Martine LaBerge is the recipient of InnoVision’s 2021 Dr. Charles Townes Individual Achievement Award in recognition of her impressive career leading Clemson University’s Bioengineering department and its many initiatives and collaborations around South Carolina. Dr. LaBerge was honored Tuesday, November 9th when Innovision celebrated her achievements, contributions and leadership.
View the Award Presentation video here.
Congratulations to Martine from the entire SC life sciences community and SCBIO!
SCBIO Names Louisiana Economic Development Executive James Chappell as CEO to Lead State’s Fastest-Growing IndustryGoal to “take South Carolina life sciences to an entirely new level” see more
Following a nationwide search that targeted 200 candidates in 39 states and resulted in 116 total applications from across the country, the Board of Directors of SCBIO has named James Chappell, an executive with Louisiana Economic Development, as the organization’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.
Dr. Chappell, whose career also includes time with Chartic Management Consulting in Boston, joined Louisiana Economic Development (LED) in 2013 and held positions of increasing responsibility at the organization including Executive Director of State Economic Competitiveness before being named Executive Director of Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship for the organization in 2021.
During his tenure at LED, Dr. Chappell’s numerous successes included designing and implementing the state’s $100 million venture capital and small business funds, developing strategies to recruit globally recognized companies to the state , and joining the Louisiana MediFund board to develop strategies to increase the biosciences and healthcare industries in Louisiana. He also collaborated with bioscience and technology advocates to improve incentives to promote growth in the bioscience and technology industries.
Dr Chappell earned his B.S. and M.S. in Plant Environmental Sciences from Clemson University, his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Stem Cell Biology focusing on cancer and diabetes from Harvard Medical School. A three-year varsity football letterman while at Clemson, he is married with two children. He will begin his new role with SCBIO starting November 8, 2021.
“SCBIO and South Carolina life sciences are excited to welcome James to lead this dynamic and forward-looking industry organization, and to help our hundreds of life sciences companies and thousands of employees and innovators take it to an entirely new level,” said Lou Kennedy, Board Chair of SCBIO and founder and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals, and a member of the search committee. “Competition for the position was extremely strong but we unanimously felt that his credentials in both life sciences and economic development were the precise mix we sought as we continue to build, advance and grow the industry in South Carolina.”
Life sciences has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 700 firms involved and over 43,000 professionals employed in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. It also represents a significant economic development focus for the state, led by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and other regional economic development teams.
South Carolina life sciences has seen a near-doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to data provided by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, state research economist and noted economic development expert with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
“As a South Carolina native, I am thrilled to join SCBIO and return home. South Carolina has become an emerging leader in life sciences, and I am excited to continue SCBIO’s great work in helping to grow the life sciences industry,” noted Dr. Chappell.
Ms. Kennedy went on to thank SCBIO Interim CEO Erin Ford for her critical contributions in leading the organization during the search process, which began in May with the resignation of prior CEO Sam Konduros.
“Erin continued to do a strong and stellar job in leading the organization, charting the path, and maintaining the momentum without missing a beat during this national search, and our board and membership are grateful to her. The entire board and SCBIO membership are excited that she will remain a key part of the organization in her prior role of Executive Vice President and COO to add a steady and experienced hand to crafting an exciting new future.”
Ms. Ford has served as primary lead for SCBIO’s business operations and finances, championing investor relations and existing industry strategies, and spearheading integrated marketing initiatives. She has managed the majority of the organization’s day-to-day requirements since joining SCBIO in 2017.
Since 2017, SCBIO has more than tripled membership and quadrupled revenues, implemented a strong economic development focus, and launched a new innovation platform. It serves as the voice of the life sciences industry, implemented a surging workforce development initiative and created ongoing programs to encourage participation by women in life sciences, to support diversity-equity-inclusion initiatives and to encourage student participation in the industry. The organization also successfully led industry and organizational pivots during the COVID pandemic. In a recent executive order, Governor Henry McMaster authorized SCBIO and the state’s Commerce Department to work together to accelerate the onshoring and repatriation of the pharmaceutical industry and vital PPE products and technologies to South Carolina.
For additional information on SCBIO, please visit www.SCBIO.org.
Clemson researchers pursue cutting-edge science and targeted medicine to improve lifespan, quality see more
In the last 25 years, rigorous research, broad medical collaborations and lifesaving interventions have made huge strides for cancer treatment. That means survival rates are up across the board for almost all forms of cancer, including the two most common ones for South Carolinians: breast and prostate cancer.
As recently as the late 1990s, there were clinical trials, and there were heroic efforts, but there were very few effective treatments for combatting some of the most highly aggressive forms of cancer. Twenty-five years later, some of those same cancers have a more than 80 percent survival rate.
Clemson can point to health innovation through research that has played notable roles in improving health outcomes for patients statewide. And that’s because cancer intervention isn’t isolated to bedside care from a nurse or petri-dish analysis from the lab.
Today, cancer treatment is:
- Powered by huge data sets that build the artificial intelligence needed to identify root causes of and precision cures for cancer.
- Innovative approaches, such as precision radio frequency that targets cancer cells rather than an IV drip administering chemotherapy drugs.
- Cellular research to develop new methods of finding and eliminating cancer faster, more safely and more efficiently.
- Identifying and preventing the side effects of treatment drugs and improving quality of life for patients even as they and their health care teams aggressively fight cancer.
Genetic Center a key initiative at Clemson University see more
The sequencing of the human genome in 2000 gave rise to the vision of personalized medicine. Realizing the importance of this landmark achievement, Clemson University established Human Genetics as a major pillar of its long-term strategic ScienceForward plan. This vision was realized in 2016 with philanthropic support of Self Regional Healthcare and the Self Family Foundation, leading to the construction of Self Regional Hall on the Partnership Innovation campus of the Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC).
Self Regional Hall is a 17,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility designed to provide a collaborative environment that is conducive to spontaneous interactions among students and faculty. The Clemson Center for Human Genetics was formally inaugurated in the facility on August 8, 2018.
In the short period of three years, the Center for Human Genetics has flourished under the leadership of its inaugural director, Dr. Trudy Mackay.
The Center started with two faculty — Dr. Mackay and spouse and long-term collaborator, Dr. Robert Anholt — two staff scientists, and two doctoral students. With strong support from Clemson University, the Center recruited four assistant professors from Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This enabled the Center to expand rapidly to six faculty and a cohort of 16 graduate students on the Greenwood campus and eight affiliated members on the main campus of Clemson University.
In 2021, the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics, in collaboration with the GGC, received a grant from the National Institutes of Health for over $13.5 million total cost to establish a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Human Genetics to promote the professional development of young investigators.The Center’s Goals for Genetic Research
The goals of the Clemson Center are two-fold:
1. to leverage comprehensive systems genetic approaches and comparative genomics to elucidate fundamental principles of the genetic underpinnings of human complex traits, including disease risk.
2. to promote precision medicine by developing advanced mathematical models to predict disease risk and assess therapeutic benefits based on genetic and environmental factors.
To enable these activities, the Center has established the most advanced genomics facility in South Carolina with capabilities for short- and long-read DNA sequencing as well as analyses of gene expression networks in single cells. The Center also contains a microscopy facility, a bioinformatics facility, and its own high performance computing cluster for analyses of large datasets.
Faculty in the Center use comparative genomics approaches to gain insights in human disorders. Such approaches include studies on the fruitfly (Drosophila) model, which enables sophisticated genetic experimentation, zebrafish (in collaboration with the GGC), which is a powerful model for developmental genetics, and human cell lines. These systems have complementary advantages, so combined insights from studies on these systems can be applied to patients and human populations.
Studies in the Center focus on substance use disorders — including cocaine, methamphetamine, and alcohol — cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. Most genetic studies to date have focused on genes that code for proteins, structural components of our cells and enzymes that catalyze reactions that sustain intermediary metabolism and the formation of macromolecules, such as our DNA.
However, protein coding genes comprise only ~2% of the human genome and there is a growing realization that non-protein coding elements of the genome play an important role in gene regulation in health and disease. Thus, a major focus of the Center’s studies is dedicated to elucidating the contributions of noncoding elements of the genome to disease manifestation. Another major focus of faculty in the Center is to develop computational methods to predict disease susceptibility based on genetic and environmental information, a critical prerequisite for personalized medicine. The Center also interacts closely with the GGC to obtain insights in the pathology of rare pediatric diseases.
The Clemson Center for Human Genetics seeks to develop local, regional, national, and international collaborations to advance human genetics and is currently part of a large international consortium funded by the European Commission to study the genetics of susceptibility to environmental toxins. As part of a major research university, the Center is also strongly committed to educating the next generation of human geneticists by providing educational opportunities for high school students, their teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists, and to promote public understanding of human genetics through community outreach.
Issues over $3 million in funds to colleges, universities see more
SCRA has announced the funding of over $3.3 million to selected colleges and universities for translational research projects to address key challenges facing the state’s industrial base. SCRA’s funding is being matched by the academic institutions and industry partners, bringing the total amount of the projects to over $6.7 million.
The projects are being funded through the SCRA-Academia Collaboration Team (SACT) program. The goal of the SACT is to connect industry with multi-institutional academic teams and build bridges among the institutions to foster engagement and advance technologies, many of which will enter the marketplace and lead to the creation of South Carolina-based jobs.
- $1.8 million was awarded to Clemson University to modernize South Carolina’s manufacturing assets to enable Industry 4.0 (the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology). Clemson is partnering with the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Greenville Technical College, and Trident Technical College.
- $1.2 million was awarded to the University of South Carolina to enable factory-to-factory networking for the future of manufacturing operations. The University is partnering with Clemson University, Greenville Technical College, and Midlands Technical College.
- $305,000 was awarded to Francis Marion University to improve workforce readiness and capabilities in South Carolina. The University is partnering with The Citadel.
“I’m energized by the opportunities and positive outcomes from this intersection of academic research, entrepreneurship, and industry in the state. These collaborations provide the greatest potential for innovation, economic growth, and overall advancement of the region,” said Kella Player, SCRA Program Manager.
SCRA’s program directors and industry advisors will review the progress on these SACT research projects on an ongoing basis. Funds will be provided in stages as milestones are met.
“We are fortunate to have high-quality research and development being conducted at our state’s colleges and universities. Many of the technologies on which they are working today will produce the new companies of tomorrow. It’s a honor for SCRA to support these collaborations,” said Bob Quinn, SCRA Executive Director.
Since 2018, SACT grants have funded 17 collaborations among South Carolina-based academic institutions and 41 industry partners. These projects have produced an 8:1 multiple in additional funding from other sources such as industry and the federal government.
SCRA grants are funded in part by the Industry Partnership Fund (IPF). IPF contributors are South Carolina businesses and individuals who receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit for investing in the state’s innovation economy.
More than 43,500 women are expected to die from breast cancer in 2021 see more
A Clemson University study could lead to new immunotherapy for breast cancer. The study, according to the university, provides the foundation of using cells in our bodies to target cancer cells.
Clemson researchers have used the immune system’s natural killer cells — which the body uses to fight off certain types of infections — to go after the breast cancer cells by bridging the two cells with a fusion of proteins the researchers developed.
“The idea is to use this bifunctional protein to bridge the natural killer cells and breast cancer tumor cells,” said Yanzhang “Charlie” Wei, a professor in the College of Science’s Department of Biological Sciences. “If the two cells are brought close enough together through this receptor ligand connection, the natural killer cells can release what I call killing machinery to have the tumor cells killed.”
Breast cancer kills 43,000 women each year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society and one in eight women and one in 1,000 men will develop invasive breast cancer.
“Very simply, cancer is uncontrolled cell growth. Some cells will become abnormal and have the potential to become cancer,” Wei explained. “The immune system can recognize these abnormal cells and destroy them before they become cancer cells. Unfortunately for those who develop cancer, the immune system is not working very well because of gene mutations and environmental factors. The result is that the cancer cells won the fight between the immune system and the tumors.”
Clemson’s researchers focused on triple-negative breast cancer, the most lethal type of breast cancer, and prolactin receptors.
Greenwood's Kay Self leading efforts to advance Greenwood community see more
The lack of reliable broadband service in parts of Greenwood became more apparent than ever this past year when schools and businesses quickly migrated to remote platforms with minimal time for in-depth planning, let alone infrastructure upgrades. Fortunately, help is on the horizon from VisionGreenwood, an established community partner dedicated to making Greenwood the best place in which to live, work and raise a family.
Kay Self, Executive Director for VisionGreenwood, explained that the recently launched “Closing the Gap” Speed Test, which was developed by the nonprofit through a public-private collaboration, will be used to collect real-time internet speed data from Greenwood residents over the next four to six weeks. With data in hand, VisionGreenwood will be able to apply for state and federal grants to help fund local internet infrastructure improvements.
“High-speed internet is no longer optional. It is critical for expanding educational and economic opportunities, especially for those in remote locations. By ensuring every Greenwood resident and business has access to broadband, we are positioning our community for success,” said Self.
JIm Pfeiffer, VisionGreenwood’s Board Chairman and Self Regional Healthcare President and CEO, noted “For more than a year now, we’ve seen first-hand just how important broadband internet is to our students, to remote work, and to telemedicine availability. In response, VisionGreenwood developed a Broadband Task Force to make sure Greenwood stays ahead of the curve in this area. The goal is to expand broadband internet connectivity throughout the entire county.”
Pfeiffer went on to say, “By mid-August, the Greenwood Broadband Task Force should have the necessary data to pinpoint areas that are in most need of reliable, affordable access to broadband service.”
While the name VisionGreenwood may be new to Greenwood County and the Upstate, the 501(c)(3) organization is simply reintroducing itself. In fact, the newly rebranded organization has a rich history in Greenwood. VisionGreenwood evolved from the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc., which was created more than 20 years ago to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s charitable operations with a focus on community and workforce development. Since its inception, the non-profit has invested more than $2.9 million into the community by supporting initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood.
“After thoughtful consideration, we decided to rebrand the foundation in 2021 to better reflect our purpose. Everything we do is grounded in our strategic long-term vision. By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood’s future and its economic growth and development,” said Self. “We are now more determined than ever to see that Greenwood emerges as one of the top living and working communities in South Carolina.”
VisionGreenwood’s Core Areas of Focus
The stated mission of VisionGreenwood is “Providing leadership to enhance the quality of life in Greenwood through strategic long-term vision and collaborative community development initiatives.” To carry out its mission, VisionGreenwood’s Board has identified core areas of focus for development of the Greenwood community: Technology and Innovation, Education, City and Retail Development, Life Sciences and Biotechnology, and Medical Innovation District. Each area of focus has its own distinct initiatives.
In addition to the expansion of broadband coverage, another notable initiative launched this year is “The Brew,” described by Self as an “ecosystem” for locals to find resources and gain support for their businesses and trades. “The Brew is really where VisionGreenwood sees Greenwood’s collective creativity and its community collaborations collide,” said Self.
Part of a larger Upstate program developed to promote job growth through entrepreneurism, The Brew provides a venue for entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, and craftsmen to get community feedback about their business plans, challenges, and accomplishments. VisionGreenwood launched the Greenwood Chapter of “The Brew” in collaboration with Uptown Greenwood and the Greenwood Area Small Business Development Center.
“It takes a concerted effort to sustain new business ideas, so we explored effective programs in place throughout the state. We are pleased to be a part of the Regional Brew Program that successfully brings economic successes to communities in Anderson, Greenville, Greer and Spartanburg, and now Greenwood,” said Self.
Central to VisionGreenwood’s work is helping strategic partnerships continue to flourish. Perhaps Greenwood’s biggest claim to fame is its international reputation as a hub for innovation in the field of medical genetics.
“The Greenwood Genetic Center, together with the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics, is among the greatest strengths and most unique assets in our community. VisionGreenwood is proud to be associated with the ongoing development of the Greenwood Genetic Center Partnership Campus,” said Self, who serves on the Board of SCBIO, the statewide, not-for-profit, public/private life sciences industry association and economic development organization formed to actively promote, build, support, expand, and convene South Carolina’s life sciences industry.
“Quality of life is the cornerstone of VisionGreenwood’s plan of work,” said Self. “We are committed to supporting the development of neighborhoods that provide entertainment, shopping, and dining, along with quality healthcare, world-class education, and employment – all necessary attributes for a thriving community.”
Pfeiffer added, “Above all, VisionGreenwood exists to make Greenwood a community of choice — one where people want to come and want to stay, whether young professionals or retirees.”
In June 2021, VisionGreenwood rolled out a refreshed website showcasing the many ways in which the organization is working to better the community. To learn more, visit www.VisionGreenwood.org and be sure to follow @VisionGreenwoodSC on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
About Vision Greenwood
VisionGreenwood is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with deep roots in the Greenwood community. Throughout the past 20 years, VisionGreenwood (formerly known as the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc.) has invested over $2.9 million into the community by supporting collaborative community development initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood. The Foundation was originally created to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s charitable operations with a focus on community and workforce development. The Foundation became a stand-alone organization in 2020 and was rebranded as VisionGreenwood in 2021. By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood’s future, its economic growth and development, and its quality of life.
Largest donation ever granted to university’s College of Science see more
Clemson graduate Emily Peek Wallace is giving back to her alma mater through the largest donation ever granted to the university’s College of Science: $1.25 million for an endowed directorship.
An endowed faculty position allows Clemson to retain top talent, according to a news release.
As the first endowed faculty position at the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, the Emily Peek Wallace ’72 Endowed Directorship provides support for the school director and supports additional initiatives throughout the school.
“I wanted to do something to help the faculty,” Wallace said in the release. “Everybody has had to shift their teaching and learning methods due to COVID-19, and the faculty has additional challenges to make sure students are not getting behind and that they’re learning what they need to be learning. I wanted to provide encouragement and funding to help them, add additional facilities to help students stay current.”
The purpose of the endowment focuses on increasing student engagement and success, as well as enhancing the relevance of the curriculum for the next generation of mathematicians, statisticians and data scientists.
The support includes tutoring assistance for students who may be struggling academically or to help students who may have fallen behind due to unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, the funding will help establish business connections and internships for students who wish to enter the job force instead of going into academic research, and will make training with current statistical software and other resources available for students regardless of future tracks, according to the release.
“With gifts such as this one from Emily, our donors help position Clemson as a destination for the finest academic leaders to develop innovative curriculums benefitting our students and equipping them with the skills needed for what is to come,” Brian O’Rourke, vice president for development and alumni relations at Clemson, said in the release. “Our donors are investing in the future — not just in Clemson and our students, but also in the industries our students will influence. We can’t thank them enough for their assistance and generosity.”
Wallace was the first woman to serve as a top leader of the university’s WSBF radio station and was named to Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. She was often the sole woman — or one of only two — in her technical courses. A first generation college graduate, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1971.
In 2014, she established the Emily Peek Wallace ’72 Scholarship Endowment for STEM, which provides financial assistance for underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to the release. This academic year, 25 students will benefit from the Wallace scholarships. In addition to the two endowments, she also serves on the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors and as a founding member of the Order of the Oak.
Wallace and her husband Jack were among the first 100 employees to join the Statistical Analysis System Institute in 1981. Headquartered in Cary, N.C., SAS is a global software company, which has also provided support to Clemson through software.
Currently, she oversees a team of 50 people as the senior director of the Knowledge Management Center at SAS.
“I am so honored to have met such special people within the Clemson family, like Emily Wallace,” Cynthia Young, dean of the College of Science, said in the release. “She was and remains a pioneer at SAS, paved the way and created opportunity for so many, including our Clemson students. Under the leadership of the Emily Peek Wallace ’72 Director, our outstanding faculty and staff will honor her legacy with their new discoveries, innovation, and in how they are preparing the next generation of leading mathematicians, statisticians and data scientists.”
Arthrex, Clemson work to resolve workforce pipeline needs see more
As the biomedical industry continues to expand in South Carolina, so does Arthrex’s need for a specialized workforce.
Arthrex, a company engaged in the research, design and manufacture of minimally invasive surgical technology, announced in 2017 plans for its new $69 million facility and the creation of 1,000 new jobs in Sandy Springs. Kevin Grieff, Arthrex senior vice president of operations, said he expects to reach 1,000 employees by 2024.
A pair of programs with Clemson University helps bridge a divide between science and sales for the company’s future workforce.
Students like T.J. Biondolillo are also recognizing the need for more specialized education, especially when it comes to blending science and business.
“Both of the programs have helped my education immensely,” Biondolillo, a senior majoring in biological sciences, said in a news release. “As a biology student, who for the first two years of college had the goal of one day attending dental school, until I shadowed a neighbor who does medical device sales, I had pretty much no selling experience.”
Soon after the expansion announcement, Arthrex approached Clemson University with an educational partnership opportunity to help students develop the interdisciplinary skills to position them for success in the fast-growing orthopedic medical device field. The result was an educational pilot program designed with the needs of the global medical device industry in mind.
Arthrex has since expanded its partnership with Clemson, which is just 10 miles from the Sandy Springs location.
Working with the academic leaders and the Clemson University Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives, the company has created scholarships and two certificate programs.
“Arthrex takes great pride in its commitment to education and we are pleased to help develop the next generation of highly skilled professionals like Arthrex technology consultants who work with orthopedic surgeons to provide trustworthy technical product support,” Arthrex President and founder Reinhold Schmieding said in the release.
The Sales Innovation Certificate Program and Orthopedic Medical Device Product Specialist certificate programs are designed to enable students from any major to explore medical device technology consulting. Through the programs, students gain knowledge of medical devices and techniques, and gain an introduction to the sales and marketing aspects of medical products. The programs are intended to create a strong pipeline to help support Arthrex’s growing needs in this area, according to the release.
More than 10 students in the Sales Innovation Certificate Program have been hired by Arthrex in the last two years.
“Through the strategic partnership with Arthrex, we have worked together to develop one-of-a-kind workforce development programs to support an integral partner need,” Angie Leidinger, vice president of external affairs for Clemson, said in the release. “The success of the pilot programs has showcased the talent of our faculty and students, and we’re excited about the opportunity to continue engaging with Arthrex in mutually beneficial ways that will strengthen educational outcomes while providing them with top-tier talent.”
After learning about the certificate program, Biondolillo said he jumped at the opportunity to gain the targeted knowledge in medical device sales.
“The Sales Innovation Program has improved my selling skills and taught me the principles of being a great salesperson and the Orthopedic Device Product Specialist Program has improved my product knowledge from materials used in devices to diagnosing issues and being able to properly convey product benefits,” he said in the release.
The Sales Innovation Program coursework is tailored to develop students’ business acumen, selling frameworks and presentation ability in order to equip them for roles in health care and medical device sales or related positions. Through the program, students also take part in real-world challenges, foundational role-play exercises and leadership opportunities, the release said.
The Orthopedic Medical Device Product Specialist Certificate provides students with core competencies in the orthopedic medical device industry with a focus on managing a product throughout its life cycle, including product development and performance relevant to clinical use, and communication of its commercial value.
In addition to the certificate programs that provide students a pathway to learning about medical device sales, the Arthrex Scholars program provides scholarships to those same students, according to the release.
Arthrex Scholars was announced in 2019 as a two-year pilot program, with the first scholarships awarded in 2020. Fifteen students pursuing medical device sales careers will receive $5,000 scholarships and a potential summer internship.
“Under the direction of Ryan Mullins, our Sales Innovation Program has shown an ability to connect students with companies like Arthrex that can potentially lead to sales careers with those organizations,” Jennifer Siemens, department of marketing chair, said in the release. “Arthrex’s investment as an innovation partner in our Sales Innovation Program helps students financially and potentially creates a pipeline to our best and brightest as their next generation of employees.”
Managed by the Department of Marketing and the Sales Innovation Program team, applications open during the fall semester and are awarded the following spring semester.
Arthrex also works with Clemson on several research projects, including a NanoScopeTM Surgical Imaging System reprocessing assessment with bioengineering associate professor Melinda Harma, according to the release.