sam patrick posted an articleLife sciences expands career opportunities for SC graduates see more
COVID caused pain and heartache and death across the world and here in the Lowcountry, but it also revealed some bright spots. One of those is the life sciences industry, which was responsible for diagnosing COVID, providing responses, and ultimately developing effective vaccines.
Coincidentally, the life sciences industry in South Carolina is itself on a growth spurt that was accelerated by the pandemic. The number of firms in the industry had doubled in the last four years, making it the fastest-growing industry sector in the state. The Darla Moore School of Business estimated its annual economic impact at $12 billion before the most recent spike.
Life sciences produce next-generation pharmaceuticals and vaccines; advanced medical devices, diagnostics, and testing; digital health; bioscience distribution; bio-agriculture and biomaterials; and biological solutions for advanced manufacturing.
Life sciences also encompass two areas of focus for the Lowcountry Graduate Center – advanced manufacturing and healthcare management. While the connection with healthcare is obvious, many people don’t realize that life science research and advanced manufacturing work symbiotically. Many life science innovations, like medical devices, require advanced manufacturing to produce, while life science innovations can power the process of advanced manufacturing itself.
Career Opportunities in Life Sciences
That means jobs, and not just for M.D.s and Ph.D.’s, but for technical college graduates and university biology and chemistry majors as well. The average life sciences position pays $79,000, according to the official state affiliate of the U.S. Biotechnology Innovation Organization, also referred to as SCBIO, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the life sciences industry in S.C. Because workforce development is the primary challenge facing the industry, SCBIO is engaged in an initiative to promote the industry as a career path for students, guidance counselors, and parents at the K-12 level and in two- and four-year college.
Indeed, SCBIO is in the process of developing an industry-advocated life sciences curriculum for technical colleges that can prepare graduates for jobs in the field. Courses would cover manufacturing processes; safety and technical protocols like measurements and ISO standards; soft skills required for all workplaces; and the connections between the various life science components and the life-saving innovations they support.
“We want to get to students even sooner so we’re partnering with organizations that are already in schools to add more of the ‘S’ in STEM,” said Erin Ford, interim CEO at SCBIO. “If someone takes a course at Trident Tech, they can get a job paying $50,000 or more with health insurance while working on a product that helps people live better lives.”
The vector of life science development is different depending on the area of the state, with the Lowcountry showing strength in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing, says Ford.
Life Science Companies Need Space to Grow
Besides workforce development, the next big challenge constraining growth is space. Lab space at the new WestEdge development in downtown Charleston was fully subscribed when it opened and now developers are seeking new space. Clean labs are more complex and costly to retrofit and build than ordinary office or warehouse space.
Nonetheless, the firms keep coming – or starting – and the state has gotten behind the industry. As a critical step, it authorized and funded SCBIO as the state’s lead life sciences industry economic development organization.
Life science provides more than just more job growth: it provides diversification of an economy that 30 years ago relied heavily on a Navy base that packed up and left. Life sciences are more recession-resistant than automotive and aeronautics, two areas of manufacturing strength in the Lowcountry that respond to retail market demand. People never cease needing health innovations.
Recognizing that, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) and South Carolina Research Authority have backed the industry. CRDA was the first development authority in the state to build map out a strategic plan to attract and retain life science businesses.
Headwinds for Life Sciences in South Carolina
Sam Konduros of KOR Medical, a clinical cannabis firm launched by the Charleston-based diagnostic and testing company Vikor Scientific, says South Carolina and SCBIO have created a business climate conducive to the industry, and the health care and advanced manufacturing infrastructure have added tailwinds to its development. Citing Vikor’s growth from 45 employees to 450 during COVID, he says recruiting a talented workforce has not been a significant challenge so far. He notes the usual Charleston quality-of-life benefits – weather, beaches, history, and food, in addition to the growing vibrancy of the industry – as recruiting tools have contributed to the success.
Ford and Konduros see possible headwinds elsewhere for the industry. Roadways and other transportation infrastructure could use improvement, and housing availability and affordability are statewide issues. For example, the state’s franchise tax, now eliminated by 36 states, penalizes early-stage companies successfully raising venture capital before going to market. In an industry that often spends millions to earn FDA approval prior to commercialization, the tax is a burden, they say.
sam patrick posted an articleUSC adds accolades for its medical school see more
The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia is the top medical program in the country for graduates who are practicing in areas where there is a shortage of health care professionals, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate School rankings.
The medical school’s distinction is part of the U.S. News rankings released March 30; the rankings show that UofSC is now home to more than 60 nationally ranked programs.
Among those is the International MBA program in the Darla Moore School of Business, which retained its No. 1 ranking for the eighth consecutive year.
“From meeting the health care needs of South Carolina’s underserved communities to preparing graduates to excel in careers in all corners of the world, these rankings demonstrate the work our faculty, staff and students do each day to improve the lives of people across the state, nation and world,” says William Tate, the university’s provost and executive vice president of academic affairs.
The School of Medicine’s No. 1 ranking fulfills the university’s mission by providing doctors for underserved areas, sometimes referred to as “medical deserts.”
The Columbia med school also ranks No. 45 for the number of doctors practicing in primary care specialties and No. 54 for graduates practicing direct patient care in rural areas. The School of Medicine is ranked No. 76 nationally in primary care, improving 14 spots from last year’s U.S. News rankings.
“We are proud to be producing graduates who are committed to providing exceptional patient care to underserved communities,” says Dr. Les Hall, dean of the UofSC School of Medicine Columbia. “Our school was established to create a pipeline of quality health care professionals for South Carolina. These rankings are a clear illustration that we are achieving that mission and more.”
The Moore School continued its reign as the highest ranked international business master’s program in the country. The International MBA has been ranked in the top three for 32 straight years.
The university’s ranked graduate and professional programs include diverse areas of study in the sciences, humanities, technology, engineering, health sciences, law and business.
Other highlights from the new rankings include:
- No. 7 for school library media.
- No. 9 for services for children and youth.
- No. 17 for library and information studies.
- No. 23 for criminology program.
- No. 25 for part-time MBA.
- No. 25 for nuclear engineering.
- No. 25 for speech language pathology.