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Medical University of South Carolina

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Innovation protecting against burnout and improving work lives see more

    Compliments of Beckers Hospital Review

    A new solution for protecting against burnout and improving the work lives of medical professionals may be to encourage innovation and creation, according to one physician from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

    Stephen Kalhorn, MD, professor of neurosurgery at MUSC spoke to Becker's about the hospital's innovation project, how it has improved his work life and how it has the potential to create inventions that benefit both patients and medical professionals alike. 

    Dr. Kalhorn's passion for innovation came while he was a resident. His chairman was also an innovator and together they would come up with ideas for inventions that would help patients and physicians. 

    "He would tell us, the Book of Ecclesiastes says there's nothing new under the sun." 

    While he believes that to be true, Dr. Kalhorn also argues that there are ways to get credit for being the first one to describe those ideas and then protect them, and that's what MUSC is helping their medical staff do.

    MUSC formed the Zucker Institute of Applied Neurosciences (ZIAN) in 2012, which encourages physicians and medical staff to share and submit any ideas for innovations and inventions they may have. If there is any room to protect those ideas via intellectual property laws or to fulfill a commercial need, the center will help those staff do so. To date, the institute reviews around 60 inventions annually, has funded 11 technologies, issued 17 patents and got three inventions FDA approved.

    Dr. Kalhorn told Becker's that he never would have thought he would get to create inventions while being a practicing physician. This opportunity to explore a creative side of science may also be an aid against burnout so many healthcare workers feel.

    As is already well known that burnout is a major factor among healthcare professionals, with 29 percent of the hospital workforce considering leaving the field, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Kalhorn described how one patient compared physicians to scrambling ants:

    "It's like we're ants on top of an ant hill that has just been kicked over. You're literally just running around, and ants can lift several magnitudes of their own strength, and they're just carrying these chunks of dirt around and viciously and ferociously trying to fend off the problems around them as well as rebuild the hill." 

    The challenging requirements of the field make the job difficult, but it can be made more enjoyable through innovation and creativity.

    "I think some people, especially those prone to burnout, often don't have different outlets in their lives to vent frustrations or to use a creative aspect of their mind and personality," he said. 

    ZIAN's encouragement of innovation and creation offers a potential respite for tired medical professionals and gives them a chance to create solutions to their problems. It also gives the staff a sense of agency in an industry that can often feel increasingly bureaucratic and high pressure.

    "You can draw something on a dry erase board or napkin and take a picture of it and then send it to the group [ZIAN] and they'll say, yes or no," Dr. Kalhorn told Becker's. The group, made up of biomedical engineers, a commercialization officer, an IP director then all work together to make the physician's idea work, testing it in 3D models and coming up with commercial strategies to bring it to market or submit patent applications.

    Some of the innovations coming out of ZIAN include a blink reflexometer to detect concussions and a 3D printed titanium plate called Heal X, used to remove damaged vertebrae. Dr. Kalhorn himself came up with VayuClear, a suction de-clogging device that eliminates obstructions from surgical suction devices saving time and energy during long surgeries. 

    "At the end of the day, the goal is to be able to help as many patients as we can in the least invasive way possible with as little as possible stress and strain on your own body.  So if there are ways to make it easier and better for both you and the patient, everyone wins."

  • sam patrick posted an article
    MUSC SJCH only children’s hospital in South Carolina to be ranked see more

    New rankings from U.S. News & World Report’s (USNWR) 2022-23 Best Children’s Hospitals survey place the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital once again as the only children’s hospital in South Carolina to be ranked. And, the hospital improved one ranking, to #11, in the Southeast region best children’s hospitals survey. The latest rankings are published online and indicate the herculean efforts health care workers provided during the second year of the coronavirus pandemic.

    The highly recognized specialties for MUSC SJCH include the following national rankings: No. 4 for cardiology & heart surgery, No. 30 for nephrology, No. 31 for cancer and No. 41 for gastroenterology & GI surgery. This year, the MUSC Pediatric & Congenital Heart Center received the #1 spot in the nation ranking for outcomes. This phenomenal achievement recognizes that the pediatric and congenital heart center’s expected outcomes are the best in the nation. USNWR issues the annual rankings “to help families with complex and rare conditions find the best medical care for their children,” according to the publication’s website. They’re designed to steer parents and caregivers to the hospitals that are best equipped to treat their children.

    The 16th annual rankings highlight the top 50 U.S. pediatric hospitals in each of 10 specialties: cancer, cardiology & heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology and GI surgery, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.

    “The U.S. News rankings recognize on a national stage that MUSC Children’s Health is a leader in pediatric health care and a safe and compassionate choice for parents seeking care for their child,” said Mark A. Scheurer, M.D., MUSC Children’s Health chief of clinical services.

    This is the 15th consecutive year that the 4th-ranked cardiology & heart surgery program has made the overall Best Children’s Hospitals list. Criteria include the survival rate of patients after complex heart surgeries along with the level of specialized staff, services and technologies and the ability to prevent infections.

    The nephrology program at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital ranks No. 30 in the U.S. That means it excels when it comes to the survival rate of children who have had kidney transplants, the management of dialysis and infection prevention and other factors. It maintains its status as the highest-ranked children’s kidney program in South Carolina. The program ranked #3 in the Southeast for overall care and the third best outcomes.

    The GI & GI surgery program is no stranger to the U.S. News rankings, either. For the 15th year in a row, it made the grade, coming in at No. 41, one spot higher than last year. The rankings factor in the survival rate for children who have had liver transplants, the effectiveness of the hospital’s treatment of children who have inflammatory bowel issues and other key measures. Like all of the rankings, the GI rankings also include input from specialists in the field who responded to U.S. News surveys and recommend the hospital for serious cases in GI care. GI & GI Surgery ranked #8 in the Southeast region.

    Finally, the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital’s cancer program ranks No. 31 on the list of Best Children’s Hospitals for Cancer. That’s a 13-level increase from last year’s ranking and a direct result of the #15 national ranking in outcomes. Cancer ranked #3 in the Southeast for overall care and achieved the best outcomes in the region. These rankings are based in part on the five-year survival rate for children with leukemia-related cancer, bone marrow transplant services, programs for brain tumors and sarcomas and infection prevention.

    A critical criterion measured by USNWR is outcomes. Five of 10 MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital programs placed in the top 50 nationally for the outcomes portion of their respective survey, including:

    Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery                         #1

    Cancer                                                                  #15

    Nephrology                                                         #26

    Pulmonary                                                          #35

    GI / GI Surgery                                                  #37

    For the second year, U.S. News featured regional rankings, and the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital tied at #11 for the Southeast region, which is one of the most competitive pediatric regions in the country. Four of MUSC’s pediatric specialties ranked in the top 10: cardiology & cardiac surgery #1, cancer #3, nephrology #3, and GI & GI surgery #8.

    Current methodology combines clinical and operational data, results from a reputational survey of board-certified pediatric specialists and supplemental information from resources such as the National Cancer Institute. RTI International collects and analyzes the data for the rankings. The methodology reflects clinical outcomes, such as patient survival, infection rates and complications; the level and quality of hospital resources directly related to patient care, such as staffing, technology and special services; delivery of health care, such as programs that adhere to best practices and prevent infections; and expert opinion among pediatric specialists. This year, scoring also included an increased focus on the subjects of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; internal and external affiliations of experts; and clinical issues related to the pandemic.

    “Our MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital care team members continue to be recognized for the outstanding care, service and commitment they provide, even in challenging times,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and executive vice president for Health Affairs, University. “The strength of our specialty outcomes is a testament to the quality of care our team members seek to provide to patients and their families on a daily basis.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    MUSC researchers using genetics to tackle health disparities see more

    Compliments of Kaiser Health News

    Quenton Tompkins’ family tree is deeply rooted in rural McCormick County, South Carolina.

    His grandfather was a sharecropper in McCormick. His mother, who turns 88 this month, grew up as the youngest of 24 children. Branches of aunts, uncles, and cousins now stretch from Florida to Chicago.

    And although 48-year-old Tompkins has heard plenty of stories, his family holds its secrets, too.

    He didn’t know until he was an adult that his grandfather died of leukemia. And he’s still unsure if his father’s bout with prostate cancer runs in the family. Tompkins’ mother and her siblings have dealt with a range of health issues, including diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes, but he still doesn’t know what killed his grandmother more than 70 years ago.

    “Those are questions I go through personally,” said Tompkins, a lobbyist for the Medical University of South Carolina. “There’s another side to knowing where you come from.”

    Twenty-two years ago, President Bill Clinton announced the completion of a “draft version” of the Human Genome Project, a breakthrough he described as “the language in which God created life.” He predicted that scientists, armed with genetic discoveries, would find cures for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes in the coming years.

    Clinton’s prediction, of course, hasn’t yet come to pass. But researchers in Charleston are hopeful that a large genetics research project underway across South Carolina may help scientists address some of the state’s persistent health disparities, which disproportionately impact its Black residents and regularly rank among the nation’s worst.  Enjoy the rest of this article compliments of Kaiser Health News.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Augmented reality may be a next frontier in medicine see more

    Marc Katz, M.D., touches the man’s heart, ever so gently. Then he takes his index finger and thumb, presses them against the spot he’s interested in and … he pinches.

    To zoom out. 

    Thankfully, the cardiothoracic surgeon isn’t handling a real heart, rather, it’s an augmented reality (AR) model of a real heart, using a holographic headset manufactured by Microsoft and imaging software created by Virginia-based ClearView Surgical. If the surgeon and tech companies have their say, this is the future of surgery – and it’s not that far away. 

    Most people have heard of virtual reality (VR), a completely immersive experience that replaces your real-life environment with a simulated one. It’s everywhere these days: movies, video games, real estate. AR is slightly different. Instead of using a simulated environment, AR adds digital elements to your real-world surroundings. It, too, is starting to creep into everyday life. Want to see how that couch looks in your living room? Open up an app and you can see for yourself. That’s AR. 

    Close up of Microsoft HoloLens, which is the headset used for the AR program  The software uses Microsoft's HoloLens 2, a device anyone can purchase.

    As Katz manipulates the organ in all different directions, he looks like someone trying to walk in a dark room – hands out in front, gently feeling for furniture or walls. But from Katz’s perspective, thanks to AR, what he sees is a very real looking heart hovering above his second-floor office desk. 

    How it works is – and this is radically oversimplified – the engineers at ClearView Surgical build exact 3D models of patients’ hearts (though it could be any organ; Katz said the heart is one of the more complicated ones because it is always moving), using the information from CT scans. In turn, these models then allow the surgeon to manipulate the heart in any direction. Need to remove a valve? No problem. What’s behind that ventricle? Let’s take a look. By marrying technology with medicine, surgeons like Katz will one day be able to look at – and touch – a patient’s heart without actually opening them up. The result: zero risk, tons of reward. 

    Though not yet used in actual practice (Katz and ClearView Surgical seem to think we’re still at least a year away), an idea that once seemed like a Hollywood fantasy is now a heck of a lot closer to becoming science nonfiction.

    “Imagine all the things this technology will allow us to do,” Katz said. Take the heart apart, turn it upside down, you name it –it’s possible, he said. All without endangering the patient. Katz even thinks the technology could eventually lead to performing mock surgeries, which would allow the surgeon the luxury of experimentation.

    Dan Neuwirth, co-owner of ClearView Surgical, said that despite radical improvements in imaging technology over the years, how doctors view the images has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s. For the past 70 or so years, folks in the medical field have looked at those images on film or computer screens. In other words, it’s all 2D. Sure, technology has allowed for simulating three dimensions, but in the end, the image the doctor is looking at is still flat. 

    A computer-generated 3d model of a heart, like what Dr. Katz would see looking through the AR headset  This image, just like one Dr. Katz might see through his headset, allows the user to rotate it any direction as well as remove parts to see things which might otherwise be hidden. The green represents a valve replacement device. Provided by ClearView Surgical

    Neuwirth and fellow co-owner Daniel Salzberg knew there was a tremendous opportunity, utilizing current technology, to change that. So they approached Katz and a handful of other surgeons across the country and asked for feedback. It’s a partnership where each side provides necessary value. Katz provides the imaging and the surgical know-how, ClearView Surgical makes the augmented version – so surgeons can manipulate it to their, well, heart’s content.

    “With Dr. Katz, we get to tap into the mind of a super accomplished surgeon and together, we can come up with ways to improve patient outcomes,” said Salzberg. 

    “It really has been a great partnership. Dr. Katz is a very forward-thinking guy in terms of technology,” Neuwirth added. 

    Neuwirth and Salzberg see this as the tip of the iceberg when it comes to utilizing AR in medicine. 

    “Obviously this is a great help for really complex cases like Dr. Katz works on,” Neuwirth said. “That’s one end of the spectrum. But we also see this eventually helping out residents with commonplace surgeries as well.”

    From a medical standpoint, Katz sees this as a first step in what he hopes will be a wide range of medical applications. 

    “Imagine being in the OR and taking the images we have and fusing them with three-dimensional images,” Katz said. “It would be like looking through someone’s body like I’m wearing X-ray glasses.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Improvements may one day improve the effectiveness and safety of chemotherapy see more

    For patients with cancer, the tumor-killing power of chemotherapeutic drugs is a double-edged sword. While many cancer drugs kill tumor cells, they can also harm healthy cells as they travel throughout the bloodstream.

    “A major limitation of chemotherapy agents is that only a tiny fraction goes to their targeted tumor,” said Dieter Haemmerich, Ph.D., D.Sc., professor at the Darby Children’s Research Institute within the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). “As a result, there are side effects that include damage to the heart.”

    But what if you could “cleanse” the blood of chemotherapeutic drugs to reduce their harmful side effects? 

    In an article published in March 2022 in the journal Cancers, an MUSC research team led by Haemmerich reported that it had developed a device to remove excess chemotherapeutic drugs from circulation after cancer treatment. Using this device, the team removed 30% of the administered drug by one hour after treatment. Seed funding to develop the device was provided by a High Innovation - High Reward grant from the South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute’s pilot project program.

    Haemmerich and his colleagues, including Katherine Twombley, M.D., a professor in the MUSC Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Nephrology, focused on doxorubicin (DOX), which is one of the most widely used chemotherapy drugs in adults and children. 

    DOX is also known to be toxic to the heart. This toxicity is particularly detrimental in pediatric patients, since any resulting heart failure will have negative health effects for the rest of the child’s life. In a 2006 clinical trial, DOX reduced cardiac function in children with leukemia, and steroid therapy was required to reduce its damaging effects.

    Despite its toxicity to the heart, DOX is a popular chemotherapy drug because it is highly effective at stopping cancer cells from dividing.

    “Doxorubicin works by basically damaging DNA,” said Yuri Peterson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences in the MUSC College of Pharmacy and an author of the article. “That is useful for treating cancer, but it can also cause off-target side effects like hair and bone marrow loss.” 

    Recent efforts to target DOX more precisely to the tumor site have included encapsulating it inside temperature-sensitive nanoparticles. These tiny particles are intact at normal body temperature and carry the drug through the bloodstream to the tumor. There, they can be heated with a probe to around 105 degrees Fahrenheit to release their DOX cargo.

    However, the technique has its own limitations. Only a fraction of the administered nanoparticles release their cargo when the heat is applied at the tumor site. Once the nanoparticles break down in the body, which can take as little as an hour, the remaining drug enters the bloodstream and can then cause side effects. 

    The MUSC research team wanted to improve outcomes with this technique by developing a device that would remove the leftover DOX after treatment.

    Using a rodent model of cancer, the researchers injected the heat-sensitive DOX nanoparticles and applied heat at the tumor site to release DOX. After treatment, they cleansed the blood of leftover DOX by first passing it through a heating element to get the nanoparticles to release the drug and then through an activated carbon filter to remove the drug from the blood before it was returned to the rodents’ circulation.

    Krishna Ramajayam, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Haemmerich’s laboratory in the Division of Pediatric Cardiology at MUSC, designed the heating element in the filtration device and supported the imaging studies for monitoring drug release and filtration.

    “Since the device is computer controlled, you can have very precise heating to ensure that the drug is released,” said Ramajayam. “The most exciting part for me is addressing both delivery and removal of the drug, which will improve patients’ quality of life immensely.”

    Importantly, the team also developed a method for detecting drug levels in the blood in real time to ensure that the drug is effectively removed.

    “By imaging the blood before and after filtration, we can actually predict how much drug is being removed in real time in the clinic,” said Anjan Motamarry, Ph.D., who completed work on the study while a doctoral student in Haemmerich’s lab before transitioning to a job in industry. “This would be very useful information for a clinician who needed to make a decision about when to stop filtration.

    ”Reducing the exposure of patients to leftover chemotherapy drugs could allow them to recover faster, with fewer side effects. It could also enable them to receive more chemotherapy cycles in the future in case additional treatment is necessary to kill the cancer cells.

    “Every drug has a maximum tolerated dose that you cannot go beyond,” said Motamarry. “Since we are removing the leftover drug after treatment, you can actually give an additional dose if the first cycle is not sufficient, which would not be possible if the drug was not removed.”

    Filtering the blood through the device also led to nearly three times less DOX in the heart, as measured using mass spectrometry at the MUSC Drug Discovery Core. Peterson and Thomas Benton, Ph.D., who was a doctoral student at MUSC at the time of the study, performed the measurements.

    These promising results suggest that the new device could reduce side effects in the heart that can be caused by chemotherapy, but more studies will be needed to confirm that promise.

    “If you deliver less drug to the heart, you will probably have fewer side effects,” said Haemmerich. “Our next step is to test the function of the heart directly after using this method in long-term animal tumor studies.”

    Further improvements to their device may one day improve the effectiveness and safety of chemotherapy in children and adults.

    “It’s really hard for anyone to go through chemotherapy,” said Motamarry. “This is the least that we can do to make it easier for them.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Addressing high demand for accomplished leaders to spearhead the sector’s growth. see more

    Compliments of Investment Monitor

    The life sciences industry in Charleston is growing fast. As more and more businesses and professionals are drawn towards the area, there is high demand for accomplished leaders to spearhead the sector’s growth.

    Executive search consultant Joyce De Leo is doing her part to find these individuals. She spent a 25-year career researching and teaching medicine at esteemed institutions in the north-eastern US, earning a PhD in neuropharmacology, and establishing a start-up pharmaceuticals company focused on treating chronic pain. She now works for executive search company WittKieffer, where she recruits talent for high-level leadership roles in healthcare and academic medicine. Last year, De Leo relocated from Boston to Charleston after falling in love with the region and recognising its rich opportunities for market growth. Read the rest of this article by clicking here.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Long-standing partnership between Clemson University and MUSC paying off see more

    South Carolina is strengthening its position as a hub for high-impact biomedical research with a new multi-million-dollar project that undergirds the long-standing partnership between Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and loops in crucial support from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    Researchers will study temporomandibular joint (TMJ) function, how the TMJ functions in different craniofacial developmental disorders that seem to put the joint at risk for degeneration and how the joint responds to surgical correction of these disorders, researchers said.

    The TMJ makes it possible to move the lower jaw to eat and talk. Understanding the stresses on the TMJ before temporomandibular joint disease (TMD) occurs will unlock the mechanisms that put certain individuals at risk for TMD.

    The focus of the research aligns with the recommendations made by an ad hoc committee on temporomandibular disorders that was formed under the auspices of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Health and Medicine Division.

    Four of the researchers involved in the new project are connected to the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program. As part of the program, Clemson bioengineering faculty and students are based at MUSC’s Charleston campus where they collaborate closely with MUSC researchers and clinicians.

    The new project, funded by a $3.18-million U01 grant from NIDCR, has two principal investigators. Hai Yao, serves as the Ernest R. Norville Endowed Chair and professor of bioengineering at Clemson, professor of oral health sciences at MUSC, the associate department chair for the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program and a member of the national temporomandibular disorder ad hoc committee. Janice Lee is the clinical director of the NIDCR and chief of the Craniofacial Anomalies and Regeneration Section within the NIH intramural research program.

    Yao said the project is possible only because of the synergy and complementary strengths of Clemson, MUSC and NIDCR.

    “Clemson and MUSC work together so seamlessly it’s as if we are one university, and we both collaborate closely with NIDCR,” he said. “This project is the latest example of how these strategic partnerships are making South Carolina a hub of biomedical research that is recognized globally. Through these partnerships, we are well positioned to address urgent healthcare needs identified by the NIDCR and the National Academy of Medicine.”

    Lee said the researchers are uniquely positioned for success.

    “The U01 is an extremely competitive grant that requires intra- and extra- mural collaboration utilizing the world-renown resources at the NIH Clinical Center,” Lee said. “It is extra special as this is a first for NIDCR intramural as well. Temporomandibular joint disorders are debilitating conditions, and I am thrilled to be working with Hai Yao and his team to truly move the research forward. His team brings outstanding bioengineering technology to examine craniofacial musculoskeletal function to the Clinical Center; our discoveries will be translated and, ideally, will initiate first-in-human therapies for TMD at the NIH.”

    Lee continued: “NIDCR is committed to working with world-class partners such as Clemson and MUSC to advance translational research into temporomandibular disorders. This project will help improve understanding of these disorders, thereby improving outcomes for patients.”

    This is particularly important to Lee as she is the oral and maxillofacial surgeon who will be providing the surgical treatments and is acutely aware of the impact that surgery can have on TMD, she said.

    Özlem Yilmaz, chair of the Department of Oral Health Sciences at MUSC, said the new project presents an important venue to help patients debilitated with TMJ disorders and underpins South Carolina’s leading position in temporomandibular disorders research.

    “New measurement tools and computational models will be tested on patients at the NIH Dental Clinic,” Yilmaz said. “These novel technologies, stemming from more than a decade of teamwork bringing together bioengineers, oral surgeons, and oral biologists at MUSC and Clemson, will push the boundary of the current temporomandibular disorders research.”

    Sarandeep Huja, dean of the College of Dental Medicine at MUSC, said the new project further solidifies MUSC’s partnership with Clemson and NIDCR.

    “This partnership will help us innovate the future of oral health and wellness,” Huja said. “We will not only be advancing knowledge of temporomandibular disorders but also expanding knowledge for the next generation of oral health providers and researchers. As a practicing clinician and orthodontist, I frequently encounter patients with temporomandibular disorders, in the very type of patients that will be recruited in this study. It is critical we find evidence based treatments for these patients.”

    The vice presidents of research at Clemson and MUSC are crucial to the institutions’ partnership, Yao said. Tanju Karanfil is vice president of research at Clemson, and Lori L. McMahon is vice president for research at MUSC.

    “We look forward to solidifying the strong foundation that Clemson and MUSC have built,” Karanfil and McMahon said in a joint statement. “These large, high-impact projects are advancing knowledge and creating a new generation of talent, while strengthening the state’s national and international reputation for biomedical research and education.”

    Researchers are calling their project “Assessment of Temporomandibular Joint Morphology, Mechanics, and Mechanobiology in Class II and III Target and Surgical Phenotypes.”

    Part of what makes the project unique is the collaboration that maximizes the expertise of the investigators.


    “Dr. Lee and her craniofacial team at NIDCR will recruit the large number of patients that will be required for the research, characterize the patients, and support their travel and treatment costs,” Yao said.

    Clemson and MUSC will perform analysis of temporomandibular joint biomechanics and mechanobiology and put that information into context to better understand patients’ health status and the potential for future problems

    Martine LaBerge, chair of Department of Bioengineering at Clemson, said the U01 grant that funds the new project is the first of its kind at Clemson.

    “This grant is a testament to the strength of the biomedical research enterprise that Clemson and MUSC are building in partnership with federal collaborators, especially the National Institutes of Health,” she said. “Dr. Yao’s leadership has been crucial to the partnership’s success, and it remains in good hands with him at the helm.”

    The project is the latest major NIH grant led by Yao. He is also principal investigator on South Carolina Translational Research Improving Musculoskeletal Health (SC TRIMH), a Center for Biomedical Research Excellence that was founded with an $11-million NIH grant in 2018. Researchers associated with the center have accounted for $8 million in NIDCR awards over the past year.

    Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, said the success underscores the high quality of research that has come out of interdisciplinary partnerships such as the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program.

    “Working together in collaboration with federal partners is elevating South Carolina’s position as a place for top-tier biomedical research and predoctoral and postdoctoral education,” he said. “Dr. Yao and his team have built a high-impact program and are continuing to climb. I offer them my whole-hearted congratulations.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Bravery, generosity mark efforts to beat rare disease see more

    When Cortney Gensemer visited her professor during office hours to discuss her Ph.D. dissertation, she had no idea she would be able to study her own disease. 

    Gensemer, a doctoral candidate at the Medical University of South Carolina, first started noticing her symptoms at age 14, when she was forced to sit out the first year of girls varsity lacrosse at her high school in Pennsylvania. She endured numerous joint dislocations and soft tissue tears in both hips before she was diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic connective tissue disorder that affects joint and neck movement, at age 19. 

    Prior to her diagnosis and over a year into Division II college lacrosse at West Chester University, she thought her constant injuries meant she just wasn’t as tough as the other athletes on the field. 

    “None of the physical therapists or athletic trainers I was seeing were familiar with EDS,” Gensemer said. ”There was no one saying, ‘This is something bigger.’ ” 

    Now, at age 25, she’s in the last year of her doctoral program at MUSC and recovering from her eighth surgery since being diagnosed. 

    Aside from the gray and blue brace she wore after her most recent surgery to keep the joints in her neck in place, she appeared in good health while working with school lab partners at the end of February. 

    A tattoo of the word “resilience” on her left forearm serves as a reminder to push through moments of severe pain. She calls it her EDS tattoo.

    “It pushes me to want to work hard because I’m literally living with what I’m researching,” Gensemer said. “I’m going to be in awful chronic pain whether I’m sitting on the couch or in the lab.”

    Now, MUSC is on the brink of opening the country’s first Ehlers-Danlos syndrome institute for research, clinical care and education on the disease.

    Symptoms of the hereditary disease range from frequent joint dislocations, joints that extend beyond the normal range, and loose ligaments in the neck and spine. 

    EDS affects roughly 1 in 3,000 people worldwide and so far has 14 different variations. The hypermobile variant is known to be the most common. However, researchers say the real number could include many more since the disease is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Currently there is no cure for EDS. 

    Gensemer is one of the only reasons EDS is being studied at MUSC. Her studies are housed in the Norris Lab, where her professor, Dr. Russell Norris, leads her and a team of 13 researchers and volunteers, some of whom also have EDS. 

    She and the team have so far identified the first strong candidate gene for hypermobile EDS, which could lead to new ways to diagnose patients earlier and more definitively.

    “I didn’t realize how powerful my own story could be,” Gensemer said. “An EDS Institute is something that patients like me have dreamed about our entire lives.”

    Living with EDS
    It can be years before a patient actually confirms they have EDS. And different variants of the disease show up with different symptoms.

    Gensemer was diagnosed within the first five years of exhibiting symptoms, while the average EDS patient waits 10 to 14 years to be properly diagnosed.

    “Hypermobile EDS is really difficult to diagnose because there isn’t a molecular or genetic diagnostic test for it,” Gensemer said. “Identifying this new gene is going to ensure patients aren’t passed around from doctor to doctor or living with vague symptoms for years without knowing what connects them.”

    For most EDS patients, undergoing numerous surgical procedures to reduce chronic pain is a necessity and often the best option for long-lasting relief. 

    Gensemer’s most recent surgery addressed loose ligaments in her neck that couldn’t hold her spine in place. Some doctors say this movement between the neck and head resembles the movement of a bobblehead, causing severe neck pain, sensitivity to light and lingering headaches. 

    To help, doctors fused the vertebrae of her spine together with titanium plates and screws to properly support her head, relieve lingering pain and prevent further symptoms. 

    Gensemer said that before she could undergo surgery, doctors needed to perform an upright MRI to determine what parts of her neck and spine needed support.

    This specific MRI helps to diagnose certain spinal and neck complications of EDS that don’t show up on an MRI scan in the traditional position. 

    However, the nearest upright machine is in Greenville, a nearly four-hour drive. A ride that length can be incredibly painful and in some cases near impossible for people with EDS. 

    That was the case for Sydney Severance, a 16-year-old from Daniel Island, who was diagnosed with EDS in 2020 after months of shuffling back and forth to doctor appointments. 

    Severance’s symptoms left her wheelchair bound, constantly vomiting and extremely sensitive to light. At MUSC, neurological and spinal specialist Dr. Sunil Patel suggested she may be suffering from craniocervical instability, a type of loose ligament condition in EDS that results in injury to the nervous system.

    Finally, she had found a physician who could tell her what was causing her so much pain. But in order to officially diagnose Severance she would need to have an upright MRI scan done, and she wasn’t able to make the drive. Luckily, a family friend of the Severance’s flew them to Greenville privately for the MRI, where her diagnosis was confirmed.

    “It was still excruciating and very difficult to be moved around and have a long day of travel, even though my situation was a lot better than some patients,” Severance said. 

    While Severance agrees that luck was on her side, many others like her who have to drive may turn a four-hour drive into a multiple day trip.

    She recalled talking with an EDS patient who suffered from seizures due to the same loose ligament problem as Severance. The other patient had at least 18 seizures during the trip for their MRI scan. 

    To Severance, the path to diagnosis for patients with this disease is much longer than the drive to Greenville. In fact, some patients go so long without knowing their affliction that it causes severe psychological trauma and confusion regarding the pain they are experiencing.

    So after undergoing her first successful surgery for EDS in 2020, Severance founded Operation Upright, a campaign to raise over $1 million to bring an upright MRI machine to Charleston. 

    Her campaign aims to lessen the average time for diagnosis and give other EDS patients like her a chance at early detection. So far it’s raised over $800,000 out of the $1.2 million goal, including a recent anonymous donation of $600,000. 

    “I was able to get a diagnosis much faster than most people,” Severance said. “I think having an upright MRI machine in Charleston would help a lot of other people reach diagnosis quickly.”

    Gensemer’s research and Severance’s fundraising position them as two of the strongest forces advocating for EDS in the state, fighting for more information and better treatment options for patients across the country and especially within the Lowcountry. 

    Gensemer also developed an EDS patient registry, collecting DNA information from over 3,000 patients nationwide for further genetic research. So far, nearly 80 percent of patients in the registry inherited the disease from a family member.

    According to Norris, the MUSC professor who leads the lab Gensemer works in, the gene they discovered could help doctors decide on the best treatments and physical therapies for patients, and possibly reduce the amount of surgeries a patient undergoes in a lifetime. 

    Now they are testing the theory with animals, transferring the identified gene in humans to mice in their lab in hopes of being able to expand their studies on the disease.  

    “The mice are hypermobile and have changes in connective tissue,” Gensemer said as she carefully held one of the lab mice by the tail. “Now we can use that mouse to expand our studies.”

    While both Gensemer and Severance are currently recovering from surgeries due to complications with EDS, they both say the work they are doing motivates them to keep going. 

    “Fundraising for this upright MRI really keeps me positive because I’m able to turn what has made my life a lot more difficult into something a little more positive,” Severance said. 

    So far, complications from EDS have resulted in Severance relearning to walk at least twice since being diagnosed, and her most recent surgery left her in the hospital for 16 days. 

    “She’s incredibly positive,” said her mother, Ashley Severance. “Even as she was learning how to walk again, she considered herself lucky.”

  • sam patrick posted an article
    It is the largest amount the Endowment has awarded MUSC in a grant cycle see more

    The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Foundation has received four grants totaling $4.59 million from The Duke Endowment. It is the largest amount the Endowment has awarded MUSC in a grant cycle. Since 1994, the Endowment has invested nearly $40 million in MUSC’s lifesaving mission.

    “We are grateful to The Duke Endowment for its major investment in our mission and their ongoing partnership to help us lead health innovation for the lives we touch,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “These grants will make a significant difference as we seek to improve the well-being of children and their families, expand access to care and bolster mental health support.” 

    The grants will launch four initiatives, each with long-term sustainability plans that advance MUSC’s vision to lead health innovation for the lives we touch. 

    “The Duke Endowment is proud to partner with MUSC in developing and providing these innovative models of care,” said Lin Hollowell, director of the Endowment’s Health Care program area. “Our founder wanted his philanthropy to increase access to health care and improve well-being for all Carolinians, and that still drives our work today.”

    • Virtual home visits for newborns and their families

                    Grant amount: $1,850,000

            South Carolina’s infant mortality rate consistently ranks among the highest in the nation. Low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and accidents are among the leading causes of death for babies in South Carolina. 

            With an Endowment grant of $1,850,000, MUSC will start a virtual home visit program that gives families the healthiest start possible. Before they leave the hospital, families will be asked if they’d like a registered nurse to follow up with them at home. 

                    During a virtual home visit, the nurse will check on the health and safety of the whole family, also screening for signs of depression and domestic violence. If needed, the nurse will connect families with additional resources and support available through the nonprofit SC Thrive. 

    • Transform health care in rural Pee Dee region

                    Grant amount: $1,325,000

                    A $1,325,000 grant from The Duke Endowment will help MUSC to transform health care in South Carolina’s rural Pee Dee region. 

                    With this grant, MUSC will develop an innovative care model for its new hospital under construction in northern Williamsburg County. 

            This innovative care model will address one of the biggest issues facing Williamsburg County: a lack of diverse health care providers. MUSC will create a pipeline program to recruit diverse Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies students from rural and low-income communities. Students who commit to working at the new hospital for at least two years after graduation will receive a scholarship to MUSC.

            The hospital will also be fully integrated with the MUSC Health system, with shared medical records and robust telemedicine capabilities that will provide patients with access to services and specialists throughout the entire statewide system.

    • Support mental health of pregnant women and new mothers

                    Grant amount: $895,229

                    An estimated one in seven pregnant women and new mothers become clinically depressed during pregnancy or in the year after birth. Most obstetricians and gynecologists do not have the training or resources to help these women. As a result, few are diagnosed or treated. 

            A $895,229 grant from The Duke Endowment will support a new MUSC program that provides pregnant women and new moms with immediate access to mental health care. The program will connect women to a care coordinator who can assess their risk and, if needed, get them access to a psychiatrist within 30 minutes of the call. 

                    The program also includes real-time psychiatric consultations and training for providers who serve pregnant and postpartum women.

    • Mental health support for sickle cell disease patients 

                    Grant amount: $525,229

                    Sickle cell disease is a hereditary blood disorder that predominately affects the Black community. In South Carolina, as many as 4,500 people are living with the disease. 

                    Sickle cell disease can cause extreme pain and other serious health issues that lead to frequent hospital stays. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are also common in these patients. Some patients also develop substance abuse issues, trying to manage the pain.

            Currently, MUSC’s adult and pediatric sickle cell disease clinics are focused on pain management. With an Endowment grant of $525,229, MUSC will be able to dedicate a clinical   psychologist and licensed professional counselor to embed mental health services in these clinics.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    The life sciences cluster in Charleston, SC -- and across the state -- is booming see more

    Compliments of CRDA and Investment Monitor

    Aligned by a shared vision for a healthier world, a united life sciences sector is a powerful thing. In the Charleston, South Carolina, market, strong synergies between new and established businesses, academic institutions and state-led initiatives provide prime opportunities for scientific innovation and business success. A growing cluster of life science companies prove testament to the power of the region’s networks.

    When considering possible locations for a new office, laboratory or manufacturing site, life science businesses will have a long checklist. This includes a provision of talent, access to markets, ease of transport and connectivity, quality of life and support from local government. When these elements come together an additional benefit is created: a thriving scientific ecosystem that generates a virtuous circle of advantages for businesses and their employees.

    The Charleston region’s ecosystem helps companies solve business challenges and mitigate risks. As a result, an increasing number of biotech and medtech manufacturers, research laboratories and service companies are calling the area home, giving birth to a burgeoning life sciences community and all the network effects that come with it. For companies seeking to enter or expand in the US, the professional economic development organization, Charleston Regional Development Alliance, exists to guide you through the process. The Alliance provides multiple services at no cost to the company.

    Click here to continue reading the entire article.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    MUSC's Cole honored for contributions see more

    The Charleston Metro Chamber announced Dr. David J. Cole as the recipient of the 2021 Joseph P. Riley Leadership Award, which will be presented at the Chamber's Member-Bration on December 3.

    Named after one of the region's most notable and popular leaders, the late father of Former Mayor Joe Riley, the Joseph P. Riley award was initiated in 1992 by the Charleston Metro Chamber. This prestigious award recognizes an outstanding leader who has, through a lifetime of leadership, committed to making the community a better place to live, work and do business. The recipients of this award are dedicated to serving and strengthening the Charleston community.

    In leading South Carolina’s only comprehensive academic health system, Medical University of South Carolina President, Dr. David Cole, demands excellence from himself and those that he leads.

    "The Joseph P. Riley Leadership Award is conferred on a transformative leader who has a deep and meaningful impact on our area," said Bryan Derreberry, President and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber. "Dr. Cole has and continues to provide compassionate, medically advanced and public health savvy leadership in a once-in-a-century global pandemic. He ‘willingly stepped into the gap’ to be the clear signal we all needed to navigate one of the most pressing crises in our region’s history. His actions and ongoing impact are at the heart of what epitomizes the Joseph P. Riley award. Congratulations to Dr. Cole, his family and the MUSC team and Board of Trustees on this distinguished honor."

    Dr. Cole’s past, present and future leadership relevance to the Charleston region will be showcased at the Chamber’s annual member recognition event, Member-Bration, on December 3. The Chamber will also recognize other outstanding business leaders and organizations, who are doing exceptional work in our region with Honors Awards.

    Previous winners of the Joseph P. Riley Leadership Award include Dr. Jairy C. Hunter (2019), Len Hutchison (2018), Perry Keith Waring (2017), W. Brian Moody (2016) and Thompson E. Penney (2015).

    For more information about the 2021 Member-Bration and to purchase tickets visit www.charlestonchamber.org/memberbration.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    New DNA-based approach may be wave of the future see more

    Compliments of Greenville Business Magazine

    If your doctor knew your risk for colon cancer or heart disease years before the disease developed, he or she could help you take steps to prevent it.

    And by collecting DNA samples from thousands of South Carolinians, the Medical University of South Carolina is embarking on a project which hopes to do just that. 

    In the initiative, which stakeholders call the first of its kind in the state, MUSC is partnering with population genomics company Helix to study DNA to drive a concept known as precision medicine. It allows providers and patients to develop health care plans with a more preventive approach.

    The power in precision medicine cannot be overstated, said Dr. Lori McMahon, vice president and associate provost for research at MUSC.

    “Genes are what make us who we are,” she told Integrated Media, publisher of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly and Charleston Business Magazine. 

    “What we learn here … will influence care for individuals across the country and across the globe.” 

    The earlier genes associated with a disease are found, the better the chances of successful treatment, said Dr. Dan Judge, professor of medicine and cardiology at MUSC and director of cardiovascular genetics.

    Theoretically, this concept might have helped “Black Panther” star and Anderson, S.C., native Chadwick Boseman, he said.

    Boseman died last year of colon cancer at the age of 43, seven years before traditional colonoscopy screening typically begins, he said. 

    Had he learned through DNA testing that he had a propensity to develop the disease, that screening could have begun much earlier, perhaps in time to keep the cancer from progressing, he said.

    And a woman with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer might begin mammograms at an earlier age or get more sensitive MRIs instead, Judge said.

    “We hope we’ll be saving lives with this project,” he said. “That’s really the bottom line.”

    The project will focus on certain forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease initially, but hopes to expand to other diseases in time, McMahon said.

    Called “In Our DNA SC,” the project hopes to enlist 100,000 South Carolina adults – 25,000 a year for four years, Judge said.

    The initiative will start with MUSC patients who already have an electronic health record and an upcoming appointment, he said. They will get a message through MyChart to let them know they’re eligible. Later, it will expand across South Carolina.

    “It won’t be something that private physicians can order directly,” he said. “This program requires people to sign up through a review board process so that it’s gone through protocol, and safety and confidentiality issues are all addressed.”

    Similar programs have identified as many as one in 75 participants who were at risk for a serious health issue, 90 percent of which would not have been discovered through traditional practice, said Dr. James Lu, CEO and co-founder of California-based Helix, which describes itself as a population genomics company at the intersection of clinical care, research and genomics.

    “By expanding access and making genomic data actionable for health care providers,” he said, “we will be able to work in tandem with MUSC … to identify risk earlier and prevent or mitigate serious diseases for its community and beyond.”

    The popularity of companies like 23andme shows that people want to understand their genetics, McMahon said.

    “People are even buying DNA kits for their dogs,” she said.

    The genetic test is free to participants and involves only a saliva sample.

    Genetic counseling will be provided to patients whose DNA reveals a risk for disease so there can be further discussion of what it means for the patient and for family members who might be at risk as well, he said.

    In addition to the clinical component, the project has a research component that will develop a dataset to advance genomics research.

    It also will examine how genetic changes influence the development and progression of disease, McMahon said, and help in the development of new and better therapeutics. 

    For instance, some people respond to certain blood pressure medications while others don’t, but it’s not understood why.

    “This will help us try to understand the genetic basis for that,” she said, “and who may need alternate therapy.” 

    Caroline Brown, chief of external affairs at MUSC, said the hospital system and Helix took steps to ensure that patient data are secure. While the results are linked to the patient’s medical record so his provider has access to them, the information is de-identified for research purposes, she said.

    The genetic results will be entered into the participants’ medical records, like a chest X-ray or MRI results are, where they are available to insurers, Judge said.

    While there is a law called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act that protects people from health insurance or employment discrimination on the basis of genetics, information in medical records can be used to deny life insurance or charge more for it, he said. Patients will be informed of that as part of the consent form for participation, he said.

    Brown said that as a state academic medical center, MUSC is focused on building its genomics prowess to ensure it can be a leader in precision medicine in the future. It chose to partner with Helix because of its established data analytics platform which is capable of large-scale projects like this, she said.

    “MUSC looked for a strategic partner to offer genetic testing that can be provided to the patient and his provider so they better know how their genetic makeup impacts their health,” she said. 

    MUSC has identified funding for the program, Brown said, but she declined to divulge the cost.

    McMahon said that when patients and providers are armed with genetic information, they can make better decisions about care going forward and push health care to a new level.

    “This is the way of the future,” she said.

    And Judge said he expects it will likely be routine within 20 years. 

  • sam patrick posted an article
    ZIAN, MUSC to commercialize new OR tool see more

    The Zucker Institute for Applied Neurosciences, a technology accelerator at the Charleston-based Medical University of South Carolina, said it will commercialize its surgical suction de-clogging tool.

    MUSC neurosurgeon Stephen Kalhorn, MD, invented the tool, named VayuClear, to address the problem of vacuum-assisted suction devices clogging during surgeries. These clogs, which occur as often as four to five times an hour, can take one to three minutes to de-clog or replace, but VayuClear is designed to de-clog surgical suctions in one to three seconds using pressurized saline. 

    "We commonly see clogged suction lines and suction tips during operations, leading to delays," Dr. Kalhorn said in a news release. "Delays in surgery are frustrating and mean more time under anesthesia for the patient."

    The technology already has received a U.S. patent, and it's on track to be FDA-registered and commercially available as early as mid-2022, according to the release.

    The accelerator has partnered with South Carolina company Medical Access Partners to commercialize the tool.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    COVID variant surging in SC see more

    When associate professor Julie Hirschhorn, Ph.D., saw the latest results of the Medical University of South Carolina’s sequencing run for COVID variants, she was struck by the absolute dominance of the Delta variant.

    “Literally 100%,” the director of MUSC’s Molecular Pathology Lab said. “It kind of boggles my mind. We’re waiting to see what's going to come next. The possibility is that we have hit a branching point where from now on, anything that we see is going to be an offspring of Delta.”

    Delta is already a prolific parent variant, spawning a growing number of “sublineages,” or variants with slightly different mutations. Hirschhorn’s colleague, Bailey Glen, Ph.D., is tracking their progress.“They went from there being no Delta sublineages to three to 12. Now we're up to 33, I think,” he said.

    “I have never seen that many new lineages pop up quickly,” Hirschhorn said.

    What does all of that mean for the public? First of all, the threat to unvaccinated people is clear.“We want them to know that Delta's still very much out there and still very transmissible,” Hirschhorn said.

    Second, Glen said, Delta’s mutations serve as a reminder of how important it is to slow the virus’ spread. “The more it spreads the more chance there is for it to mutate, and clearly it can change pretty dramatically and how effectively. We've definitely seen that already. What’s the ceiling on this? How bad can it get? I don't know, but there's no reason to think it can't get worse.”

    As for why Delta has been able to vanquish the variant competition so completely, Hirschhorn pointed to its characteristics. “It has mutations in the spike protein that help it get into cells easier. And then some of the other mutations assist in making more copies of the virus itself. So it gets in better and it makes more copies of itself,” she said.

    “If you think about virus transmissibility, when we had the original version of the virus, every infected person would infect on average one or two people. And then with the Alpha variant we first saw in the U.K., every person infected would transmit it, on average, to four people. And then with Delta, it transmits on average to seven or eight people.”

    Part of the problem may be that Delta causes people to carry higher viral loads, Hirschhorn said. “And so if somebody coughs or you're sitting in a room together and no one's masked, it's going take a shorter period of time to transmit to you.”

    The good news is that for now, indications are that the current COVID surge in South Carolina may be easing. In the Charleston Tri-county area, case numbers are still high, but down from the surge’s peak of a couple of weeks ago.

    But that doesn’t mean the virus is going away. “One of the things that I do get concerned about when coming off of a curve like this is where we end up, as far as a steady state,” Hirschhorn said, referring to the level where case numbers settle.

    “So before Delta hit, we had gotten down to only 1% — it was so low. It's the lowest I'd seen it. My biggest concern is that steady state level of COVID might get stuck at like 5% or 7% or even 10% positivity. And that really doesn't bode well for the next mutated version, because the next wave could result in even higher positivity rates. And if the next variant strain transmits faster, we would start out in a rough spot.”

    Her lab is working with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to get that message out. “It has been a really positive experience so far. I've had multiple people from DHEC reach out and say, ‘Thank you for sharing your data. This is great. We're so excited.’ I hope that our contribution will help the DHEC website give a clear picture of what's going on,” Hirschhorn said.

    She also hopes people use the information to make good decisions. “I guess that's part of this thought process — how do we keep each other safe while still trying to have a life? My best advice is to be kind and think about others. There are ways to get together safely, such as being outside. There are ways to see each other and keep in touch and try to keep that human connection.”

     September 26, 2021
  • sam patrick posted an article
    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.