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COVID-19

  • sam patrick posted an article
    USC earns award of excellence see more

    In recognition of their dedication and innovations in overcoming the challenges of delivering the experiential curriculum during the past year, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Experiential Education Section has bestowed the Award for Excellence in Experiential Education upon the faculty and staff of experiential offices at the colleges and schools of pharmacy, including the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.

    The Experiential Education team of Jennifer Baker, director of experiential programs; Whitney Maxwell, associate director of experiential programs; Kathryn Kenard, student service program coordinator; and Nancy Blaisdell, administrative assistant, received certificates of recognition from the AACP during a presentation by Julie Sease, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy.

    The AACP Experiential Education Section Award of Excellence in Experiential Education is normally presented each year to an individual, but this year, the organization chose to recognize programs across the country.

    When the University closed in March 2020, the Office of Experiential Education for the College of Pharmacy mobilized to a virtual unit overnight as there could be no pause in operations to keep students progressing through the Pharm.D. curriculum. With the status of hundreds of rotations changing on what seemed like an hourly basis during the spring and summer of 2020, Baker and Maxwell navigated rotation rescheduling while Kenard and Blaisdell tirelessly worked through site onboarding requirements to efficiently move students on and off rotation without missing a beat.

    “Through the hard work and commitment of our preceptors and practice sites, we were able to successfully graduate the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on time,” says Baker. “Our team was dedicated to our students even while serving on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. While our experiences were not unique, as everyone’s worlds were turned upside down during the pandemic, I can confidently say that our students and College are blessed with the best preceptors and faculty.

    “We are so grateful for the unwavering support from College administration and for this recognition by the AACP Experiential Education Section. It was incredible to see the collaboration that occurred within our profession at the local, state and national level to support all pharmacy students.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Life sciences booming in Spartanburg, Upstate see more

    Spartanburg County – and the entire Upstate – are welcoming a growing interest and investments from life sciences companies. The Upstate has a long-established history and infrastructure that have supported life sciences companies with raw materials, production and packaging operations, and distribution.

    Now, new research and innovation businesses are further supporting industry growth and fueling an ecosystem ripe for start-ups.

    More than 670 life sciences firms of all sizes call the Upstate home, with 13 companies announcing new locations in the area in the last few years.

    The newest of those companies in Spartanburg is Epica International, the leader in advanced, ultra-high-resolution mobile medical imaging and robotic applications for human and animal health, and industrial enterprises.

    The company announced its headquarters and operations in Spartanburg, covering its subsidiary companies Epica Human Health, Epica Animal Health and Roboticom. Epica established corporate, imaging and robotic system demos at its facility, currently located inside the Spark Center SC on the Tyger River Campus of Spartanburg Community College.

    “Epica’s investment in Spartanburg goes hand-in-hand with a diversified economic development strategy we’ve put in place countywide, targeting specifically investments from bioscience and life sciences industries,” said OneSpartanburg, Inc. Chief Economic Development Officer Katherine O’Neill. “These types of advanced, heavy-technology industries coming to our county gives us a considerable strategic advantage for future development and job growth.”

    Another life sciences company – Pall Corporation – announced its intent to invest in Spartanburg County earlier in 2021. Pall announced its Spartanburg County operations would create 425 new jobs and $30.2 million in investment.

    Pall serves the needs of customers across the broad spectrum of life sciences and industry and works with clients around the world to advance health, safety and environmentally responsible technologies. The company’s Spartanburg facility supports the rapid development of vaccines and therapeutics, including COVID-19 vaccines.

    "Spartanburg County provides Pall with the diverse workforce we need to manufacture life-saving therapeutics and vaccines. We look forward to building our presence in this county,” said Pall Life Sciences President Joseph Repp at the time of the company’s announcement.

    Statewide, South Carolina has a significant presence in the medical device sector. And the manufacturing supply chain is robust when it comes to life sciences, mirroring the strength of the area’s overall manufacturing prowess.

    From 2015-2019, medical devices and equipment companies added 35% more jobs and accounted for 11.5% of the new companies coming to the Upstate. And on top of that, more than 700 clinical trials are being undertaken across the Upstate at any given time in the fields of oncology, companion diagnostics, genetics and more.

    The Upstate in particular has a network of acclaimed hospitals, technical training schools and more than 26 colleges and universities actively working with industry leaders and educators on all levels to ensure access a highly-skilled workforce for decades to come.

    “Spartanburg’s historic advantages when it comes to infrastructure, distribution capabilities and even the county’s location, make it a favorable home for continued investments from biosciences and life science industries,” said O’Neill. “That positions us well for the future as these industries continue to bring higher-wage, knowledge-based jobs to Spartanburg.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    PMLS donates rapid antigen tests to Diabetes Education camps see more

    Premier Medical Laboratory Services donates rapid antigen tests to Diabetes Education and Camping Association Camps

    Many children with diabetes look forward to summer camp each year to, not only spend time with friends, but with other children who can relate to similar day-to-day obstacles that living with diabetes can present. The Diabetes Education and Camping Association (DECA) unites the global diabetes camping community, providing leadership, education, and resources to make camps for those with diabetes more impactful. As most summer camps across the US resumed this year, diabetes camps were faced with the extraordinary obstacle of protecting children who are at higher risk for COVID-19 complications due to diabetes. To bring summer camps for children living with diabetes back this year and to help protect these children, one of the nation’s largest laboratories, Premier Medical Laboratory Services, donated thousands of COVID-19 tests to DECA camps in 19 states across the nation, enabling them to safely return to camp this year.

    “We know DECA and each of their camps do so much for the diabetes community - helping kids to learn how to manage the disease as well as support emotional wellbeing,” said Kevin Murdock, Founder and CEO of PMLS. “With diabetes being a global pandemic, it’s a large focus for Premier Medical Laboratory Services to provide top healthcare solutions for patients with diabetes. We are honored to help camps that improve the lives of children and adolescents with diabetes.”

    For some children, a diabetes camp is their first opportunity to meet a friend who also has diabetes, or their first time staying somewhere without their parents. It’s a great place for them to adopt a new hobby or learn skills that give them more self-confidence. Along with the feeling of independence and support, diabetes camps have been shown to provide children with an increase in diabetes self-care abilities and decreased diabetes-specific distress. (1) For caregivers, diabetes camps provide a medically sound environment where they can feel assured that their children are safe and their diabetes care needs are met.

    Terry Ackley, Executive Director of DECA added: “The safety of children with diabetes is the highest priority of diabetes camps. Covid-19 has presented significant challenges to the operation of diabetes camps this year. It has required that they carefully study their program delivery model and incorporate additional health and safety protocols following the newest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. A tool that is very important to safely serving children with diabetes at camp is Covid-19 testing. Premier Medical Laboratory Services approached the diabetes camping community to offer their much-needed support. Our community greatly appreciates their generous donation of a large quantity of rapid antigen tests to diabetes camps across the United States. Premier Medical Laboratory Services has been instrumental to the ability of diabetes camps to operate this year. Their support is helping children learn more about how to manage their diabetes, build resilience to living with this difficult health condition, develop cherished friendships and have lots of fun!”

    Aside from offering COVID-19 testing and many other medical diagnostics solutions, PMLS is continually searching for innovative diabetes prevention and maintenance applications. With some of the most advanced testing panels for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, PMLS also introduced to the US a first of its kind predictive genetic test for type 2 diabetes, which allows patients to know their risk of future onset of the disease determined by their individual genetic make-up. Along with this, Premier Medical Laboratory Services is currently working with the   Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on initiatives to bring soccer clinics to diabetes communities as part of their mission to improve patient lives both medically and through community outreach. PMLS is soon to announce more breakthrough solutions for diabetes care.

    For more information on Premier Medical Laboratory Services, please visit www.premedinc.com or call 866-387-2909.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Test results are delivered straight to the customer in 48 hours or less see more

    Courtesy GSA Business Report

    Diversified Medical Healthcare, a conglomerate of four Greenville health care companies specializing in advanced molecular diagnostics, medical supplies and laboratory equipment, recently acquired the COVID-19 home testing company, RapidRona.

    RapidRona test results are delivered straight to the customer in 48 hours or less, according to a news release. 

    “We know that COVID-19, unfortunately, is something our population will continue to face,” Kevin Murdock, CEO and founder of Diversified Medical Healthcare, said in the news release. “As recent reports show that the new variants spread faster, cause more severe symptoms, and are causing a decrease in vaccine efficacy, the acquisition of RapidRona is our logical next step in providing necessary solutions for the future of COVID-19. We’re proud to add at-home diagnostic and wellness testing to all that we offer at Diversified Medical Healthcare.”

    According to a recent Yale Medicine article cited by the release, the Delta variant is spreading 50% faster than the Alpha variant, which was 50% more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19. 

    According to data cited by the press release, “1,271 of 1,528 total new infections were fully vaccinated individuals as were 23 of 27 hospitalizations and 11 out of 17 cases of severe illness.” 

    Pivoting from a trend of at-home COVID-19 antigen tests, RapidRona kits provide RT-PCR tests.

    “We are excited to see the technology platform in good hands advancing the consumer’s ability to proactively direct their health care from home,” Former RapidRona CEO Heather Mlodinow said in the release.

    Diversified Medical Healthcare has reached one of the highest testing capacities in the nation with the capability to process more than 300,000 tests per day, according to the release. They’ve also shifted production to add in-house manufacturing of COVID-19 testing kits and reagents to combat infrastructure limitations and make testing more accessible.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Another SC start-up is making good see more

    Compliments of the Post and Courier

    During a procedure with a young patient, Cephus Simmons noticed something wasn’t working as well as it could. Part of the child’s small intestine had slid into the large intestine, causing an obstruction that can be life threatening for small children.

    But the catheter used to keep the bladder flowing wasn’t staying firmly in place.

    “It became frustrating to me, and it was something that medically I knew wasn’t correct, and something that needed to be fixed,” said Simmons, a Ph.D. and radiology assistant at the Medical University of South Carolina.

    The catheter the MUSC team was using, called a Foley catheter, features a balloon to hold it in place internally. After the procedure, Simmons drew up his idea for a different kind of catheter that would have two balloons, one to be placed on the inside and one on the outside of the body. He founded SealCath in 2013.

    While Simmons says it solves the problems that were at hand during that procedure, the catheter he developed can be used for colonoscopies and more. It’s also made to work for both pediatric and adult patients.

    But it took several years after founding of the company for the catheter to become available on the market. Simmons worked on the effort from his home in Mount Pleasant in between his clinical time at MUSC, getting little sleep.

    The company quickly began to take off in 2018. Simmons was awarded a research grant that year from the National Institutes of Health

    The S.C. Research Authority, a tech accelerator program that receives state funding, also enrolled SealCath in its SC Launch program for startups in 2018. The program gives companies mentorship and capital in order to grow. 

    SealCath went to market in the summer of 2019. Then, Simmons secured a patent in Canada in 2020. 

    When COVID-19 shut hospitals’ doors to many patients, visitors and vendors, SealCath also had to shut down temporarily. Business picked back up by the end of 2020, and now Simmons plans to bring to market a silicon version of his catheter this fall — it’s available in latex for now, and some buyers are concerned about allergies to the material. 

    Innovations in the life sciences are some of the most promising in Charleston’s burgeoning technology industry.

    Health care technology, along with biotech and pharmaceuticals, make up two of the state’s top three startup industries, according to an annual analysis by BIP Capital. Still, in terms of the amount of outside funding coming in, South Carolina’s startups can’t match the size of Georgia’s, North Carolina’s, Florida’s or Tennessee’s in the Southeast. 

    SealCath is one of a number of successful spin-offs to come from researchers and clinicians at MUSC. 

    Simmons didn’t imagine becoming the CEO of a startup company when he decided to go into medicine. 

    “Innovation does the same thing as what I’ve been doing my whole career, which is helping patients,” he said. “If you find the right product that’s going to improve health care, then innovation is actually just as good or better than what I’ve been doing the whole time as far as taking care of my patients.”

    Simmons plans to retire from MUSC, which he now counts among his customers, this year and take his catheter on the road to market it to other hospitals. His long-term goal is to export the device to Canada. 

    Simmons graduated from Walterboro High School. He is married with four children. 

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Columbia, SC company aims for growth see more

    Compliments of SCBIZ News and Columbia Business Report

    Columbia-based Rhino Medical Supply has been named the exclusive distributor of Deltapine cotton medical scrubs in an initiative created to drive demand for U.S.-grown cotton and revitalize an end-to-end U.S. supply chain.

    The Field to Closet partnership with Nashville-based Jernigan Global, a consultancy for the cotton supply chain and textile industry, was created in 2019 to create awareness among producers, ginners, millers and retailers of advancements in U.S. upland cotton, specifically Deltapine Select varieties. Rhino will distribute the initiative’s 100% cotton scrubs made with Georgia-grown cotton through the initiative’s Cotton Project.

      “We are thrilled to announce an alliance with Rhino Medical Supply as the distributor of our cotton scrubs,” Ed Jernigan, founder and CEO of Field to Closet, said in an online article by Cotton Grower magazine published Tuesday. “Rhino Medical’s focus on sustainable, environmentally friendly, and biodegradable products, along with their emphasis on philanthropy and diversity initiatives, pairs perfectly with our scrubs program. It is truly a perfect union of businesses with similar visions.”

    The Cotton Project has also established a Farmer GiveBack program to ensure the grower shares in financial profits of goods sold.

    “Rhino Medical Supply seeks companies and products that align with our corporate citizenship commitments, including giving back to others, using renewable resources, and encouraging inclusion,” Rhino CEO Lance Brown said. “Our organization is proud to work with Field to Closet and America Knits to distribute these 100% Deltapine cotton medical scrubs.”

    The medical scrubs are treated with PROTX2 AV technology, a metal-free, medical grade anti-viral, anti-bacteria and anti-odor treatment that kills viruses and bacteria, including the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the article. Brown called the technology a “game changer” for the U.S. medical industry in its fight to prevent another pandemic outbreak.

    “We are thrilled to partner with Field and Closet to introduce the first OR scrubs powered by PROTX2 AV technology,” Giancarlo Beevis, president and CEO of Intelligent Fabric Technologies North America, said. “This is a key step in breaking the chain of infection and provides healthcare professionals with a new line of defense in infection prevention.”

    To launch the initiative, 15 rural Georgia hospitals will receive the scrubs at no cost this summer.

    “Partnering with Rhino Medical Supply means our scrubs will be available to hospitals and other health care facilities from coast-to-coast,” said Steve Hawkins, president of America Knits. “This partnership matches perfectly with our focus on providing prosperity for rural, smaller communities and creating quality, environmentally sustainable products in the United States.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    USC College of Pharmacy hosts special event for minorities see more

    Compliments of WIS-TV Columbia
     

    The University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy held a COVID-19 vaccine education event at the Juneteenth Freedom Fest. Instructors and students from the college offered science-based information to passersby who had not been vaccinated yet.

    DHEC data suggests that minorities make up approximately 43% of South Carolinians who have received at least one COVID-19 shot. Data from DHEC also shows that Black South Carolinians make up just 19.5% of people with at least one dose.

    “We feel like we can do better,” said clinical associate instructor and infectious diseases pharmacy specialist Dr. Julie Ann Justo. “We want to protect individuals and their loved ones from contracting COVID-19.”

    The college hosts similar community education events regarding various public health issues such as penicillin allergies and flu shots at events like Soda City Market. The program chose to host the COVID-19 vaccination information booth at the Juneteenth event to target specific groups that may be hesitant to get their shot.

    “Juneteenth is the place to be this weekend; there’s a lot of joy here, a lot of celebration and remembrance and respect for history,” said Justo. “We’re really excited to be here with the community and listen to their concerns as they relate to COVID-19 vaccination, and hopefully give a little bit of helpful information as well.”

    Dr. Justo says the pharmacy students that talked to community members are vaccine experts. She says they have been studying all vaccines for at least four years and they also have extensive knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccines.

    Dr. Jordan Cooler, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy and psychiatric pharmacist, says she hopes the event helped the community understand both the vaccine and the role of pharmacists better. She says pharmacists are among the most accessible medical professionals as they typically don’t require appointments for consultations.

    “This is an opportunity for our students to get out into the community and hone those skills, as far as educating individuals and interacting,” said Cooler. “We’re coming and we’re meeting them where they’re at.”

    Cooler says the event served to boost vaccine confidence in the community and if people felt more confident getting their shot after speaking to the students, they were able to go get their shot at a vaccine tent that was also at the festival.

    The college plans to continue educating the public in the coming weeks about the COVID-19 vaccine to help increase vaccination rates across the state.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Premier Medical is conducting one of the largest-scale Next-gen Sequencing initiatives in USA see more

    US Senator Lindsey Graham recently viewed one of the largest variant surveillance initiatives in the nation currently underway at Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS). At the PMLS facility headquartered in Greenville, SC, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) enables the collection of data needed to study the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccinations and the detection of new mutations of the SARS CoV-2 virus; like that of the Delta variant which has rapidly spread through India and the UK and now is present in the US. With the capability to monitor 84,000 COVID samples per week, the laboratory has the technology to allow the CDC and state health departments to detect this variant’s spread in the US along with any other novel variants of SARS CoV-2. 

    “This lab, right here in South Carolina, is testing variants for the entire country, and they are one of the first labs to invest heavily in variant testing to make sure that if there is a second comeback of the virus, we will get ahead of it.” Senator Graham stated alongside Kevin Murdock, CEO and Michael Conroy, VP of Compliance of PMLS. Senator Graham went on to speak about the new and emerging variants including the Delta strain, saying that, “Viruses try to survive. They will replicate. They will try to penetrate the vaccines. This is a war between science and the virus, and the virus is very clever.”

    According to Dr. Fauci, the Delta variant may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization and is more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain – Approximately 40% more contagious, but scientists are still trying to pin down the exact number, with estimates ranging from 30% to 100%, as reported by UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. 

    Recent NIH studies have shown that while two doses of the Pfizer vaccine were 88% effective against the Delta variant, two doses of the AstraZeneca shot were  only 60% effective against the strain. With just under half of the American population having not been vaccinated, as of June 3, Next Generation Sequencing is vital in continued efforts to contain the virus and to keep hospitalization rates low.

    Senator Graham expressed that that PMLS has both provided tremendous capability to the public sector for the nation’s COVID response and that it allowed the population to get on with their lives, as the more testing that is conducted, the more is understood about the nature of the illness. Along these same lines, to help the US continue in its progress made against the COVID-19 virus, Premier Medical Laboratory Services plans to provide the data on the new variants that is now needed with their expansive Next Generation Sequencing initiative.

    Sources:

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/06/03/press-briefing-by-white-house-covid-19-response-team-and-public-health-officials-40/

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/08/fauci-says-us-must-vaccinate-more-people-before-delta-becomes-dominant-covid-variant-in-america.html

    ###

    About PMLS

    Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), based in Greenville, South Carolina, is an advanced molecular diagnostics lab fully certified by top laboratory accrediting organizations, including Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and COLA. PMLS prides itself on providing high complexity testing with unmatched turnaround times of results and one of the highest testing capacities in the nation. Their testing menu includes pharmacogenomics, COVID-19 testing, advanced cardiovascular testing, diabetes panels, women’s wellness panels, allergen specific Ige blood testing, toxicology, and a first of its kind predictive genetic test for type II diabetes, DiabetestPredict.

    PMLS also offers Virtual Lab, an infrastructure limitation solution allowing other laboratories to utilize PMLS’ fully-automated robotic workflow and team of 360 employees. With this, labs can largely increase their testing capacity and efficiency while bypassing the need to purchase new equipment or endure waiting time of weeks or more for shipping, installation, and validation. For more information, please visit www.PreMedInc.com or call  855-501-1023.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Senator steps up to protect American IP see more

    United States Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced the Preventing Foreign Attempts to Erode Healthcare Innovation Act to prevent the Biden administration from relinquishing intellectual property (IP) protections on COVID-19 vaccines, a move that would undermine American innovation while doing nothing to actually increase the amount of vaccines reaching developing nations.

    “The Biden Administration should protect the intellectual property of American companies, especially those that produced COVID vaccines in record time,” said Senator Toomey. “Instead, the administration is advocating foreign countries expropriate these precious American assets. Our bill would limit the administration from pursuing this misguided policy, ensuring American companies can continue their vaccine distribution efforts without fear of losing their intellectual property.”

    “The United States has already pledged more money than any other country toward global vaccine efforts,” said Senator Tim Scott. “President Biden’s willingness to cave to the World Trade Organization instead of guarding one of our most valuable assets from getting into the hands of bad actors is concerning. The president needs to draw a clear line in dealing with Beijing, and releasing our data ensures that China will benefit off the hard work and innovation of American workers, and will also ensure our next vaccine takes longer to develop.”

    The House companion bill was introduced last week by United States Representative Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).

    “It deeply concerns me to hear of the Biden Administration’s plan to forgo IP protections on COVID-19 vaccines. This plan is a direct infringement upon American ingenuity and innovation and hands over our nation’s intellectual prowess for the world’s taking,” said Rep. Byron Donalds. “This Administration has made it a point to put America last, and this is just another glaring example of this sad reality. I appreciate my Senate colleagues Sen. Tim Scott and Sen. Pat Toomey, for championing my bill in the United States Senate and joining my efforts to prevent the Biden Administration from senselessly giving away America’s intellectual property to countries like China.”  

    Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) are also cosponsors of the Preventing Foreign Attempts to Erode Healthcare Innovation Act.

    Background:

    •  The bill bars the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) from supporting the waiver of certain World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, as the Biden Administration announced it would.
    • The bill accomplishes this by “prohibiting the authorization of appropriations to USTR for supporting a measure at the WTO waiving certain intellectual property rights.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Despite COVID, DPX continues to advance see more

    Columbia, SC – DPX Technologies, a manufacturer of laboratory consumables for sample preparation, continues with business expansion. This expansion includes the development of new product lines for proteomics and genomics testing and the construction of a large storage facility. 

    As an essential company, DPX continued operating during the pandemic and used this time to focus on product and Intellectual Property development. During 2020, DPX launched a new product and method for automated size exclusion chromatography. The size exclusion chromatography product line positions DPX in the market for proteomics testing, which diversifies their product offerings. DPX also initiated research and development on a new product line for nucleic acid purification and recently obtained a NSF Phase 1 SBIR award to further this research. 

    The business will continue with their expansion plans by building a large storage facility. The additional square footage is needed to support the increasing demand of inventory for raw materials and finished goods. 

    “COVID-19 has emphasized the need for fast, automated sample preparation  for nucleic acids, and we are committed to providing these solutions,” said William Brewer, CEO of DPX Technologies. “As we continue to expand our product offerings into more market segments for bioanalytical testing, we will be better positioned for long term advancement.” DPX recently hired another molecular biologist, and is purchasing new equipment and instrumentation for nucleic acid analysis. The company has plans to hire additional R&D scientists to support application development for their clients and manufacturing staff.   

    DPX has been manufacturing pipette tips for sample preparation since 2007 and specializes in developing custom products and workflows for a diverse client base.

     

    About DPX Technologies

    DPX is committed to providing innovative sample purification solutions. We collaborate with our customers to provide the high-quality products they need for complex chemical and biological analysis. 

     

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Multi-year plan designed to help drive growth of industry across Palmetto State see more

    SCBIO CEO Erin Ford only has to look at recent history to understand the opportunity in front of South Carolina life sciences.

    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 represents a significant economic development focus for the state, with strong life science recruiting initiatives led by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and regional economic development teams – so much so that  Governor McMaster recently issued an Executive Order to emphasize the industry in domestic and international recruiting efforts.

    Now armed with the industry’s third multi-year Strategic Plan to build, advance, innovate and grow the industry, Ms. Ford sees an opportunity to “take South Carolina life sciences to an entirely new level” over the next handful of years, she said as SCBIO published the 2021-2022 Life Sciences Strategic Plan recently.

    Ms. Ford is no stranger to leading the industry.  Since taking over as interim CEO for the departed Sam Konduros just weeks ago, she has expanded emphasis on investor relations and existing industry support strategies, the spearheading of integrated marketing initiatives, implementation of the new SCBIO innovation platform, and a strong emphasis on economic development initiatives – from an industrywide presence at this week’s PGA Tournament at Kiawah to next month’s BIO Global conference and the Fall MEDICA event in Germany.

    Guided by the new Strategic Plan, which spans 24 months and continues the vision of the last two editions, SCBIO and SC life sciences are clearly focused on doing “the right things to continue to build, advance, innovate and grow” the multifaceted industry.

    SC Life Sciences 2021-2022 Strategic Plan is shaped by input from SCBIO’s Board of Directors and dozens of contributors from industry, higher education, economic development, government and supporting organizations and authored by the SCBIO team.  The 70-page document includes detailed sections on the COVID Effect on the industry, 2020 Highlights, documentation of the breadth and depth of the Industry Segments in the state, Priority Initiatives, and specific Objectives, Plans and Budgets to advance life sciences.

    A shorter summarized version is available to media and business leaders interested in learning more about the fastest-growing industry in South Carolina, as documented recently by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, economist with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.  To request a copy, interested persons should email info@scbio.org.

    South Carolina life sciences has seen a near-doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017 alone, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to recent data provided by Dr. Von Nessen, state research economist and a noted economic development expert.  It also has companies in 42 of 46 counties – a far greater penetration than most major industries possess.

    The 2021-2022 plan seeks to continue the growth strategies of the industry evident over the last four years during which Ms. Ford served as EVP/COO prior to assuming the interim role of CEO.  During those four years, SCBIO has more than doubled membership and quadrupled revenues, implemented a strong economic development focus, and launched a new innovation platform.  It expanded its role 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.

    “Prior SC life sciences plans have  performed admirably in helping South Carolina raise its profile as an emerging leader in the life sciences,” said Ms. Ford. “Our innovative companies and exceptional workforce are drivers in strengthening this industry, and we know that the life sciences will continue to play a critically important role in our state’s economic success.  We intend to build on our Board’s and team’s vision to continue this momentum and to build, advance and grow life sciences in our state.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Columbia College partners for better health see more

    Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center (dba Cooperative Health) and Columbia College are pleased to announce a partnership to bring health care services to its campus and the local community starting Monday, March 22.

    Columbia Community Family Practice will provide primary and preventative services for adult and pediatric patients, in addition to behavioral health counseling. The practice will be housed inside a 2,000 square foot-building on the Columbia College campus, located at 4808 Colonial Drive.

    “We are excited to be partnering with Cooperative Health to provide much needed services to our own campus and also to the broader neighborhood community,” said Dr. Tom Bogart, president of Columbia College. “Cooperative Health is an important health provider in the Midlands. This partnership is an example of how we are able to collaborate and respond to key issues in our community.” 

    Columbia Community Family Practice will promote optimal wellness in campus and community members by removing socioeconomic barriers to care; enabling individuals to make informed health decisions; and empowering individuals to be self-directed consumers of their health care services. 

     

    “Cooperative Health is ecstatic to partner with Columbia College to bring a comprehensive health care facility to its campus. The presence of Columbia Community Medical Practice will improve the health of the student body and others within the 29203 community. We would like to thank the dynamic leadership of Columbia College for making this possible and welcoming us,” said Peatra Cruz, Chief Organizational Development and Communications Officer. 

    La’Kia Singleton, MSN, FNP-BC, will serve as the lead provider at the Columbia Community Family Practice. She brings more than a decade of experience as a family nurse practitioner with a specialty of treating acute and chronic health conditions for all ages. 

    An opening for Columbia Community Family Practice was held at the site on Friday, March 19. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was invitation only but was live streamed on Cooperative Health and Columbia College Facebook channels. Columbia Community Family Practice will operate Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call (803) 888-1106 to schedule an appointment. 

     

    About Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center (dba Cooperative Health)

    Cooperative Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) deemed facility. It operates as an independent non-profit organization providing primary care and preventative services with the aim of improving the health of patients on a community level. Cooperative Health offers comprehensive services including: family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral medicine, dental, pharmacy, orthopedics and podiatry. In 2019, Cooperative Health provided health care services to more than 61,000 patients throughout the Midlands of South Carolina. It has a network of sites located throughout medically underserved areas in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield, and Newberry counties. Cooperative Health is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Patient Centered Medical Home. 

    About Columbia College 

    Columbia College was founded in 1854 as Columbia Female College by the Methodist Conference of South Carolina. Columbia College continues to serve as an institution for higher education with approximately 1,200 male and female students in both undergraduate and graduate courses. 

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Together, Rutgers and Premier are publishing a scientific article demonstrating their findings see more

    Public Health Research Institute at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS) have conducted studies on the stability and viral inactivation properties of the Truckee Applied Genomics (TAG) TAG-NGPM+ virus inactivating media. The studies show that the non-flammable solution contains a chemical make-up which may increase both room temperature stability and freeze-thaw integrity. This means that the specimen is better preserved during transit to a testing laboratory, and as a result, could increase the accuracy of testing results while decreasing the number of samples ruined by temperature changes. Rutgers’ data also shows that the patented TAG-NGPM+ inactivates SARS-CoV-2 in the specimen, making it safer for transport and handling by laboratory staff.  

    “PMLS is proud to participate in this collaborative effort with such great institutions as Rutgers and Truckee Applied Genomics,” said Austin Shirley, Director of Operations for Premier Medical Laboratory Services. “Effectively  inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other pathogens before transporting them to labs, while also making the testing more accurate and the handling of the media safer, is a tremendous innovation in specimen collection.” 

    The TAG-NGPM+ media was developed based on the patented TAG-1™ Class 1 General Reagent. TAG-1 is a formaldehyde-free tissue fixative that was designed to improve molecular tests while requiring no changes to pathology workflows. The TAG-NGPM+ formulation adds sufficient and complementary anti-viral and anti-bacterial components. These components improve the safety of viral sample handling and provide safer and less costly media handling compared to other virus inactivating media since TAG-NGPM+ contains no guanidinium salts. 

    The studies conducted by PMLS show that the TAG-NGPM+ solution can also be used as an optimal transport media for COVID-19 sample testing. There was a 5 log10 reduction in the viral titer after treatment of SARS-CoV-2 virus with TAG-NGPM+ buffer within 30 minutes while the integrity of the viral RNA remained intact. This might potentially help centralized core laboratories and Point of Care (POC) laboratories safely process patient samples when access to BSL II facilities is limited. Another major advantage the buffer offers is in safe disposal in any disinfectant including 10% bleach solution, since the media is free of hazardous reactive chemicals like guanidinium isothiocyanate (GITC). 

    Drs. Padmapriya Banada and Sukalyani Banik conducted the studies in the Alland laboratory at Rutgers NJMS. According to Dr. Banada, “the TAG-NGPM+ transport media can potentially reduce the biohazard risk associated with COVID-19 testing, as practice that could otherwise expose laboratory personnel to live SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The study showed that the transport media inactivated SARS-CoV-2 at both room temperature and under refrigeration conditions at the tested concentrations. Studies by PMLS also showed that the transport media prolonged sample stability.  By improving the safety and stability of COVID-19 test samples, the transport buffer should greatly simplify on-site or point of care testing in settings such as doctor's offices, workplaces or schools” 

    Dr. Tian Yu, TAG VP of Product Development commented, “TAG-NGPM+ virus inactivation media was designed to increase lab staff safety, while eliminating the need for a cold chain and protecting RNA integrity for weeks at ambient temperature. Because TAG-NGPM+ is designed to better stabilize viral RNA fragments and preserve protein structures, it will enable additional testing formats on top of molecular testing which are known to show high specificity in COVID19 diagnosis.“ 

    The article by Rutgers NJMS and PMLS demonstrating their research findings is soon to be published. For more information, please call 866-405-2199 or visit www.PreMedInc.com.  


    ABOUT PREMIER MEDICAL LABORATORY  

    Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS) is a CLIA and COLA regulated laboratory based in Greenville, South Carolina focused on providing clinically meaningful results to medical practitioners. Premier Medical Laboratory Services offers a variety of highly specialized tests including: the only Type II Diabetes molecular predisposition test available in the U.S., advanced cardiovascular testing, hereditary cancer screening, carrier screening, women’s health panels, pharmacogenomics, serum allergy testing, blood wellness, Hepatitis C genotyping, respiratory pathogens, gastrointestinal pathogens, and more. In addition to its specialty programs, Premier Medical Laboratory offers a comprehensive testing menu of general chemistry, immunoassay, and hematology tests. The company also is proud to offer a patient friendly billing policy. For more information, please visit www.PreMedInc.com or call 866-405-2199.  

  • sam patrick posted an article
    South Carolina featured in JD Supra article see more

    South Carolina has long been known for its colorful history, beautiful beaches and vibrant tourist industry.  In recent decades, it has also come to be well known for its high-tech manufacturing with the likes of BMW, Boeing, Honda, Michelin, Samsung and Volvo, all locating large manufacturing facilities throughout the State. What you might not know is that South Carolina is also home to another rapidly growing high-tech industry—the Life Sciences industry.

    The term Life Sciences is generally used to include companies in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, food processing, environmental, and biomedical devices. The Life Sciences industry also includes organizations and institutions that devote the majority of their efforts in the various stages of research, development, technology transfer and commercialization, as well as the companies who support these entities.

    According to SCBIO, the trade association which represents the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina, there are over 700 companies and businesses actively engaged in the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina and at least one Life Sciences organization is located in 42 of the State’s 46 counties. The economic impact of the Life Sciences industry is approaching $12 billion per year and is continuing to increase, according to a recent study. It is also estimated that the Life Sciences industry has created over 40,000 high paying jobs in South Carolina over the last several years, with an average annual salary of over $70,000.

    The Life Sciences industry in South Carolina is very diverse.  It includes companies ranging from small startups focusing on developing new technology like Okra Medical, to a unique genetic clinical and research institution like Greenwood Genetic Center, which has been serving the State for decades, to large established companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals. Nephron is a pharmaceutical manufacturer and cGMP compliant 503(B) Outsourcing facility, and a global leader in the manufacture of generic respiratory medication that has rapidly expanded its manufacturing capacity and services over the last seven years. Nephron is owned and led by Lou Kennedy, whose vision and leadership have spurred the Company’s growth and success and have also made her one of the State’s most important business leaders, as well as an important thought leader in the Life Sciences industry.

    South Carolina is a pro-business state that has worked diligently to attract large companies looking for a friendlier business climate from a tax and regulatory perspective. An additional driver for the growth of the Life Sciences industry is the existing ecosystem for Life Sciences, which is supported by the State’s three major research universities: University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson University as well as over ten additional universities and colleges in the State - from Furman University with its innovation program and nationally recognized chemistry department, to Newberry College launching new curriculum and a degree focused on pharmaceutical manufacturing. These universities and colleges further validate the increasing depth of the existing ecosystem and the positive impact it will have on strengthening the talent pool available to the Life Sciences industry. Other factors contributing towards this growth are the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Research Authority, the strong system of hospitals and health care systems within the State, the support of various economic development alliances, the State’s expanding technical college system, the support of elected officials and the growth and leadership of SCBIO over the last several years.

    SCBIO has spearheaded a series of joint private / public initiatives to promote the growth of the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina. These efforts include promoting statewide economic development strategies to attract Life Sciences companies to locate or relocate in South Carolina and consistently promoting and strengthening the existing ecosystem which allows established South Carolina Life Sciences organizations to collaborate, grow and flourish. In addition to its economic development efforts, SCBIO has integrated its efforts with the broader mission to transform and positively impact healthcare as evidenced by its unique alliances forged with the South Carolina Hospital Association, several large health systems and large payers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina.  For the past four years, SCBIO has been led by its CEO, Sam Konduros. Konduros has experience with economic development, operations of Life Sciences companies, developing start-up companies and most importantly—developing and implementing an ambitious strategic plan for the Life Sciences industry. During his time at SCBIO, Konduros has assembled a talented team.  His vision and energy have fueled a rapid growth in membership and engagement and an increased in awareness and support for the Life Sciences industry across the State. Under his leadership, SCBIO significantly expanded its membership and quadrupled its revenues, while at the same time establishing itself as a powerful force for economic development and creating a new platform for Life Sciences companies to collaborate on innovations and research. Earlier this month, Konduros announced his departure from SCBIO to serve on the Board of Vikor Scientific, another successful company within the Life Sciences space in South Carolina that is rapidly expanding. He will also serve as CEO of a new health innovation company powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies focusing on science personalized medicine strategies that will be a part of Vikor Scientific’s expanding portfolio of companies. SCBIO is conducting a national search for Konduros’ replacement and there is no doubt that the association and its members will continue to benefit from the momentum created over the last four years as it continues to push the Life Sciences industry forward.

    The global COVID-19 pandemic presented a profound challenge to the Life Sciences industry as it disrupted the way business was conducted. The Life Sciences industry in South Carolina stepped up to these challenges and turned them into opportunities. Many Life Sciences companies pivoted from their existing strategic plans to address the needs of the State and Nation by providing assistance in key areas that became critical during the pandemic. Companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Vikor Scientific, KIYATEC, Premier Medical Lab Services and others offered much needed expanded COVID-19 testing services inside and outside South Carolina. Others such as ZVerse, a digital manufacturing company, modified its business model to become one of the largest producers of reusable face shields for use during the pandemic and beyond. Over the last 12 months, they have produced millions of these reusable facemasks and have been recognized throughout the country for their efforts. Rhythmlink International, a medical device leader, donated thousands of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and other healthcare providers across South Carolina.  In addition, Milliken & Company boosted its production of biosmart fabrics used in scrubs and lab coats, which uses chlorine bleach-activated technology and molecular engineering to kill up to 99.9% of the bacteria and viruses it touches. Headquartered in Greenville, Vitalink Research was selected by Moderna to run its Phase III vaccine clinical trial, demonstrating national confidence in Life Sciences research operations in South Carolina. These are just a few examples of how South Carolina Life Sciences companies responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight why the Life Sciences industry is one of the fastest growing segments of South Carolina’s economy.

    The future of the Life Sciences industry is bright in South Carolina.  South Carolina has become an attractive place to develop and expand Life Sciences companies and there is great leadership within these companies. The rapid growth of Life Sciences is becoming more apparent to the public and media. In February 2021, Governor McMaster proclaimed February 15-19 as South Carolina Life Sciences Week in the Palmetto State.  Our Life Sciences companies are leading the discussions of how to bring more Life Sciences manufacturing back to the U.S, including to South Carolina, and how to develop a domestic source of PPE and other parts of the supply chain. There is also increased collaboration on leveraging increased use of technology like telehealth and digital health to deliver health care services to rural and less developed areas using technology developed and perfected in South Carolina. SCBIO is also leading an effort to expand and improve the workforce to support Life Sciences companies.  All signs point to a very bright future for the Life Sciences industry and South Carolina is just beginning to see the benefits of this growth and development.

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  • sam patrick posted an article
    Trio collaborate to turn back COVID tides see more

    It was not long ago when we all witnessed demand for critical Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) far outstripping supply on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.

    While this story line is now receding in our memory, it became a rare instance in South Carolina based on extraordinary efforts from entities like Humimic Medical, South Carolina Biotechnology Organization (SCBIO), and South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP).  Not only did these groups address frontline workers, but they also addressed the critical PPE needs of organizations a few layers back from the front lines – such as non-profit community outreach groups, church programs, and workforce development groups.

    Humimic Medical teamed up with SCBIO and SCMEP to help these organizations and others out. Leveraging the broad network of SCBIO and connected distribution channels of SCMEP, Humimic Medical donated thousands of face shields to organizations across South Carolina which desperately needed quality, made-in-the-USA protective equipment.

    “Helping the ‘little guys’ has always been part of my DNA, I guess,” commented Joel Edwards, CEO of Greenville’s Humimic Medical. “We started in a garage 10 years ago and grew from there. Organizations willing to support the little guy like us along the way helped us tremendously in getting to where we are today. So having the opportunity to give back and help others who may not be first in line to receive PPE supplies just felt right.”

    Humimic Medical does not typically produce PPE. However, as they continued to become more deeply entrenched in the collaborative life science ecosystem network that SCBIO has forged in the Palmetto State (which includes groups like SCMEP), they realized they could join the fight against COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, Humimic Medical shifted some of its engineering and manufacturing resources from their medical trainer product lines to help supply PPE where it was needed most.

    There was one problem though. Humimic Medical didn’t have the established distribution channels for PPE in South Carolina. That’s where SCBIO’s connection to SCMEP came into play. Organizations like SCMEP also serve as key players in South Carolina’s connected, collaborative, and growth-oriented network. SCMEP’s mission of helping state organizations improve their competitiveness, performance, and profitability provided a perfect backdrop for Humimic Medical to connect to organizations around our state who still desperately needed PPE supplies like face shields.

    “SCMEP always prides itself in being a strategic resource for companies in our State”, shared Chuck Spangler, President of SCMEP. “We’re grateful we could leverage our network in collaboration with SCBIO and Humimic Medical to serve organizations in need.”

    Added SCBIO Interim CEO Erin Ford, whose team was able to rapidly connect Humimic with key contacts to deliver the new face shields where they are needed most, “We continue to live our mission of being the life sciences industry convener, and that’s more important than ever right now.”

    “Organizations SCBIO and SCMEP continue to be invaluable assets in our State,” said Edwards.  “The rich, collaborative networks these kind of groups create are what will continue to make South Carolina a leader in new business development.”

     

    About Humimic Medical:  

    Humimic Medical is a rapidly growing medical trainer and synthetic gel manufacturing company based in Greenville, SC. The company is driven by innovative product design, world-class customer service, and fueled by robust collaborative partnerships with universities and healthcare providers. Humimic Medical utilizes its proprietary synthetic gel blend to more closely represent human tissue elasticity and maintain recyclable/reusable qualities that no other product line currently offers delivered at a significantly lower price point than any existing products.

    About SCMEP:

    SCMEP is a private, non-profit group that serves as a proven resource to South Carolina businesses, providing them with a range of innovative strategies and solutions. An affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), SCMEP operates under the US Department of Commerce to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness. SCMEP uses a strategic, hands-on, partnering approach to help South Carolina companies improve their competitiveness, performance, and profitability in today’s increasingly demanding global economy.