Expanding partnerships bode well for South Carolinians see more
Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) and The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC Health) have signed a letter of intent to expand their longtime collaboration to improve access to high-quality, coordinated and cost-effective genetic services and their recent affiliation to drive innovation in the genetics field. A definitive agreement and approval by both organizations’ boards is still required and anticipated by the end of the year.
The deeper relationship between GGC and MUSC Health presents opportunities to further improve access and enhance patient care, increase access to a broader range of educational opportunities for MUSC students, and position the organizations to take advantage of future strategic research initiatives. The two entities have worked together on clinical consultations, provider education, and research for more than a decade. According to MUSC, adding to the depth and breadth of the almost two-year old formal affiliation with the state’s most advanced and innovative genetic center was an easy choice.
“We are so pleased to continue aligning and innovating with this like-minded and advanced care provider for the benefit of the state’s citizens,” said James Lemon, D.M.D., chairman of the MUSC Board of Trustees. “We are excited for what the future holds as we move forward together.”
MUSC Board of Trustees vice-chairman and Greenwood resident, Charles Schulze, agreed. “I live in Greenwood, and I’ve said for years that a lot people don’t understand what an absolute gem GGC is. They’ve helped about 100,000 families across the state make incredibly important decisions, discovered difficult-to-diagnose conditions, and have been there for these families every step of the way.”
With recent and rapid growth in the understanding of how genetics impacts health throughout the lifespan, access to genetic information is increasingly important for individuals to make informed healthcare and lifestyle decisions. With a primary goal of improving access for patients and their families, this expanded relationship between GGC and MUSC aims to leverage both organizations’ strengths and expertise. Together they will provide high-quality care and access to the latest technological advances in diagnostics, research, and treatment. In the interest of better serving these needs, the expanded goals of the relationship include:
- Co-developing a strategic plan for genetic services.
- Continuing to increase access to clinical genetic services for MUSC patients and all South Carolinians.
- Building on collaborative telehealth platforms to improve wait times for appointments and consultations.
- Sharing critical resources and expertise where possible to lower costs.
- Pursuing additional workforce development, research, clinical trials and treatment collaborations.
- Advancing precision health and jointly serving as leaders in this innovative, dynamic area of health care.
Nearly every child in South Carolina who has been diagnosed with a genetic birth defect, developmental delay or other hereditary disorder has already benefited from GGC expertise, due to the center’s depth of care for children with rare conditions and commitment to new technologies and diagnostics. GGC, a nonprofit institute centered on research, clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing and educational programs and resources, is focused on compassionate patient care and innovative scientific advancement. This deepened relationship with MUSC will mean GGC can expand their purview to include additional adult genetics services to help serve patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions.
“The Greenwood Genetic Center places great importance on collaborations that improve the quality of care and benefit the patients and families we serve,” said Steve Skinner, MD, GGC Director. “Over the past two years, our affiliation with MUSC has expanded projects such as telemedicine that have had a significant and lasting impact on access to genetics care. With the further expansion of this relationship, GGC can have an even stronger impact on patient care through a connection to MUSC’s broad subspecialties network and clinical trial experience, while GGC can enhance MUSC’s ability to provide pediatric genetics care and state-of-the art clinical genetic testing. It’s a win-win for both institutions, but most importantly, this collaboration is a win for the people of South Carolina who need genetic care, information, and resources.”
David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president, echoed the benefits of the affiliation offered by Skinner, adding, “Two years ago, we started to align the national caliber genetic expertise of GGC- with our outstanding academic medical faculty and specialty care providers,” he said. “It’s been making a real difference for our patients. We’re moving health care forward for all, bringing the best of both organizations so that we can create opportunities for more South Carolina citizens to understand, plan for and manage their health and wellness. By further connecting our work and accountability to each other, MUSC and GGC stand poised to deliver on precision health and even better patient care, research innovations and unique learning opportunities for our students.”
“The Greenwood Genetic Center and MUSC individually provide exceptional care to patients across South Carolina, each with their own unique areas of expertise,” said Dell Baker, chairman of the GGC Board of Directors. “By further combining our strengths and building upon the other’s needs, this expanded relationship between our organizations has South Carolina poised as a leader in providing the best and most advanced genomic medicine for its citizens.”
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.”
MUSC and Helix launch In Our DNA SC, first-of-its-kind population genomics program to drive preventive, precision health care for South CaroliniansLarge-scale initiative will advance innovative research, improved health outcomes see more
CHARLESTON, S.C. and SAN MATEO, Calif., (Sept. 20, 2021) – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Helix have announced a strategic collaboration to develop a first-of-its-kind population genomics initiative in South Carolina called In Our DNA SC. The large-scale program is designed to improve health care outcomes by integrating genetic insights into clinical care and research. The statewide initiative will enroll 100,000 patients in genetic testing over the next four years at no cost to the patient.
The program will enable the use of genomic insights with an initial focus on actionable information regarding a patient’s risk for certain forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The genetic reports will allow patients and their health providers to develop precision health care plans to proactively mitigate the conditions and take a more preventive approach to patient care. Patient enrollment in In Our DNA SC is expected to begin in the fall.
In addition, MUSC and Helix will be developing a robust clinico-genomic dataset from consenting participants that will help researchers learn what can cause certain diseases, how we may be able to treat them more effectively and, possibly, improve the standard care for everyone. This is expected to lay the groundwork for a broader collaboration with other organizations across the health care value chain.
“As South Carolina’s only comprehensive academic health sciences center, delivering the highest quality care throughout the state is our top priority,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “Precision medicine is an emerging field that is going to transform the future delivery of health care. Being a leader and helping to define this path is core to our mission. We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Helix to deploy this first-of-its-kind population genomic program for our patients. This collaboration will help drive preventive, precision health care for South Carolinians.”
The strategic relationship with Helix allows MUSC to leverage Helix’s unique Sequence Once, Query Often TM model and its end-to-end integration platform to enable immediate application and continual on-demand use of genetic insights throughout a patient’s life. By working with South Carolina’s only integrated academic health sciences center in the state, Helix gains access to thousands of providers and research staff dedicated to understanding how to deliver the highest quality patient care available to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond.
“Large-scale population genomics initiatives like this have the potential to significantly improve a health system’s ability to deliver population and precision health insights to patients,” said James Lu, M.D., Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Helix. “In similar programs, as many as 1 in 75 participants have been found to be at risk for a serious health issue, of which 90 percent would not have been discovered through traditional practice. By expanding access and making genomic data actionable for health care providers, we will be able to work in tandem with MUSC, the no. 1 hospital in South Carolina, to identify risk earlier and prevent or mitigate serious diseases for its community and beyond.”
Enrollment in the program will initially be available to patients who sign up at select MUSC clinics and locations, later expanding to participants throughout the community and state in collaboration with MUSC’s clinical affiliates and partners. Additionally, participants who consent to securely contribute their genetic data will help MUSC develop one of the largest clinico-genomic datasets in the country. Analyses from this platform will be used to pioneer and further advance genomics research.
About the Medical University of South Carolina
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is home to the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safe patient care while training generations of compassionate, competent health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Close to 25,000 care team members provide care for patients at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and 5 additional hospital locations in development, more than 300 telehealth sites and nearly 750 care locations situated in the Lowcountry, Midlands, Pee Dee and Upstate regions of South Carolina. In 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $4.4 billion. The more than 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.
Helix is the leading population genomics company operating at the intersection of clinical care, research, and genomics. Its end-to-end platform enables health systems, life sciences companies, and payers to advance genomic research and accelerate the integration of genomic data into clinical care. Powered by one of the world’s largest CLIA / CAP next-generation sequencing labs and the first and only FDA authorized whole exome sequencing platform, Helix supports all aspects of population genomics including recruitment and engagement, clinically actionable disease screening, return of results, and basic and translational research. In response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Helix has launched a sensitive and scalable end-to-end COVID-19 test system to meet the needs of health systems, employees, governments, and other organizations across the country. Learn more at helix.com.
Artificial intelligence a critical factor in improving healthcare, booming life sciences industry see more
HCA Healthcare and Google Cloud are partnering to use data analytics and artificial intelligence along with patient information in a move they say will transform health care delivery and improve outcomes.
It’s the latest step in the evolution of the fusion between health care and data.
Prisma Health recently announced a partnership with Siemens Healthineers. And the Medical University of South Carolina has been working with Siemens Healthineers for years as well as Microsoft.
Proponents say these arrangements benefit patients and providers alike. But they also raise concerns about the security of patient information.
“What they’re doing is harnessing the power of big data to drive informed change and informed decision making,” said Dr. Christine Carr, an emergency physician and senior clinical advisor with the South Carolina Hospital Association.
“Instead of a clinician on the floor saying, ‘I think this is the best way we should do our physician schedules or manage heart failure,’ we have so much data and analytic power now,” she told Integrated Media, publisher of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly and Charleston Business Magazine. “It’s kind of like your iPhone, knowing where you’re going when you get in the car. We realize we have to get ahead of the disease.”
If a patient has shortness of breath, for example, providers can use data tools to predict if he has a pulmonary embolism without doing any testing, Carr said. And if he does, other tools can help determine whether he should be admitted to the hospital or sent home on medication, she said.
“The real power of using big data in health care is that it helps us deliver more efficient, high-quality care with fewer disparities,” adds Caroline Brown, chief of external affairs for MUSC and the Medical University Hospital Authority.
“There is tremendous value in marrying disparate data that lives in different places to transform the way we deliver care. There are huge benefits for patients for this data to come together,” she said. “We can practice in a more preventive way than a reactive way.”
But how accurate are these tools? Carr says they’re validated to a high degree of certainty so the clinician knows the risks.
“They are extremely accurate,” she said, adding that doctors are still the ones making the decisions.
“It delivers information but you as a human have to ultimately decide what to do,” she said. “And any unique person is a unique person. Sometimes, I just override it. And sometimes I’m right. There are still humans, for now, at the end.”
Another benefit of predictive analytics is lowering costs, Carr said.
For instance, by analyzing a patient’s information, a doctor may determine that she only needs a mammogram every three years instead of annually, she said. And it can predict the risk of hospital readmissions too, she added, “which is a big financial driver for hospitals.”
Carr speculates that all large health systems are getting into the predictive analytics space, adding that insurance companies have been using it for years to predict population health based on ZIP code, health history and socioeconomic factors.
Founded in 1968, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is a for-profit system with some 2,000 care locations - including 186 hospitals - in 20 states and the United Kingdom.
Google Cloud, which “aims to accelerate companies’ digital transformation,” says it has business customers in more than 200 countries.
A spokesman for HCA said the company would have no comment beyond a press release and a Google spokeswoman did not return calls.
But in that release, HCA CEO Sam Hazen said that “next-generation care demands data science-informed decision support so we can more sharply focus on safe, efficient and effective patient care.”
And Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said, “The cloud can be an accelerant for innovation in health, particularly in driving data interoperability, which is critical in streamlining operations and providing better quality of care to improve patient outcomes.”
Meanwhile, Adam Landau, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs for HCA’s South Atlantic Division, said in an email that it’s too early to know what the partnership will mean for its South Carolina hospitals - Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro, Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach and Trident Health, which consists of Trident Medical Center in Charleston and Summerville Medical Center in Summerville.
“I can tell you that we’re proud to be a part of HCA Healthcare,” he said. “In combination with significant investments in mobility to support clinical care … this partnership accelerates the work of HCA Healthcare clinicians, data scientists and developers by providing highly scalable technology from Google Cloud.”
For example, he said, technology has been developed using predictive analytics that helps detect sepsis early, potentially saving lives. Another application uses clinical observations and ventilator-streamed data to reduce the length of stay for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and increase survival rates of Covid patients by 28 percent, he said.
Brown said that health care is behind other consumer-driven industries in delivering on 21st century data technology.
“One thing the … industry has been behind on is this whole consumer experience and digitalization of that over the last years,” she said. “Customers are expecting and demanding easier access to health care, they want to do so virtually from home, and in other formats that previously weren’t commonplace.”
MUSC is using data analytics to help identify gaps in care, to map workflow so the system is more efficient, and to reduce wait times for patients, among other things, she said.
A partnership with Medtronic uses more consistent monitoring technology in hospitalized patients to reduce the number of adverse respiratory events in patients prescribed opioids, she said. Another project aims to prevent hospitalizations by catching patients with heart failure and intervening earlier.
MUSC also worked with Microsoft using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to detect and address potentially deadly sepsis in hospitalized patients, she said.
Prisma said its 10-year partnership with Siemens will use AI to develop algorithms to help clinicians make more informed decisions, allowing for quicker and more precise diagnoses and treatment plans.
Some of the AI will be embedded in new imaging machines as software while other AI will be developed through the partnership. Siemens will also have health economists on site studying new technologies to see if they reduce health care costs.
But with a growing number of entities gaining access to patient information, just how secure are arrangements like these?
Nationwide, the number of health information data breaches affecting 500 or more people grew from 329 in 2016 to 648 in 2020, with hacking events growing from 78 to 230 and ransomware attacks soaring from 36 to 199 during that time frame, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Ransomware is a multibillion-dollar industry, said James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
And hospitals make good targets because attackers are purely about the money and go after what will generate the most return, he added.
“You can hack a hospital and make $4 million or hack an individual and make $4,000,” he said. “These guys like bulk business. Not onesies or twosies.”
Most hospitals pay because it’s not worth the hassle, Lewis said.
Some have insurance to cover ransomware attacks. But most attackers hone in on what they think the target can afford and go for that at the hospitals that are easier to breach, he said. And if they think the hospital can pay $4 million, they’ll start out asking for $6 million, he said.
So moving to the cloud makes sense, Lewis said, because while it’s not impossible to hack, it is much more difficult and could be more secure. A lot depends on the terms of the contract, such as where the data will be stored and how it will limit the risk to privacy, he said.
Both Google and HCA say their arrangement will protect patient privacy and data by using “layers of security controls and processes” and complying with federal privacy requirements.
“The partnership is founded on strict guiding principles around privacy and security,” Landau said. “Our contract prohibits Google Cloud from the use of patient identifiable information.”
Brown said MUSC also only uses deidentified patient data for its projects. That means information like names and addresses are removed but relevant clinical data remain, subject to privacy guide rails, she said.
“Cybersecurity is a huge issue globally across all industries, and health care is no different,” she said. “Any arrangement … has to be done with utmost scrutiny to make sure patients are kept first, and commit to making sure they are protected.”
A lot of the push for these types of relationships comes from hospitals looking to solve complex health care problems on a large scale, said MUSC chief information security officer Aaron Heath.
Machine learning is helping to do that with the use of lots of data, he said, but when those two intersect, there has to be a mechanism to share the least amount of data necessary.
At the end of the day, he said, a hospital doesn’t need to put patient privacy on the hook to solve its problems.
“If we want to solve for sepsis in the hospital - detect it often and early and respond quickly - we don’t have to share patient data,” he said. “Hospitals are … only sharing the minimum amount of data to accomplish goals.”
Nonetheless, he said, it’s not without risk and hospitals need to have contracts with digital companies that prevent data from being used for any other purpose.
“There are a lot of controls we can take,” he said, “because it’s really important.”
Prisma Health said that protecting patient privacy is critical and that it has multiple systems and checks in place to safeguard it.
“As part of our Siemens Healthineers’ intelligent insights center, we will use de-identified, blinded patient data,” spokeswoman Sandy Dees said in a statement. “Under no circumstances will specific identifiers such as names, birth dates or addresses be used.”
When it comes to ransomware, hospitals are in a tough position because they can’t stop business for an attack, said Heath. MUSC has layers of defense designed to mitigate the ransomware threat so if one is breached, another kicks in, he said.
“You may not get hit by ransomware, but I can assure you your system is being targeted by phishing emails,” he said. “We are monitoring systems at all times to look for and flag potential phishing emails and get them out of our system because it’s such a common (and easy) avenue of attack. We have seen phishing emails come in to us intended to ultimately trigger an attack, but have caught them.”
A significant problem in dealing with ransomware is that most attacks come from outside the U.S. and there’s a lack of international law enforcement to allay it, Heath said.
“It’s a real challenge to stop this activity across the globe because it can be conducted from anywhere,” he said.
So MUSC invests “quite a bit” in new technology and the staff to support it, he said. And the system is constantly monitoring security and conducting training because cybercrime is a moving target that requires frequent adjustments, he said.
Still, Lewis said that ransomware “is not rocket science,” and that hospitals should be able to deal with it by backing up and encrypting data and spending more on IT to keep current.
“A big cloud provider makes you more secure. It’s their business,” he said. “Hospitals - their business is patient care, and (those) that invest proactively are better able to protect data.”
A federal health care cybersecurity task force established by HHS produced a report in 2017 that outlined ways to improve protection of health information, among them increasing the security and resilience of medical devices and health IT like electronic medical records; ensuring that the health care workforce prioritizes cybersecurity; and enhancing health care industry readiness through improved cybersecurity awareness and education.
“It’s sad we have to do this,” Lewis said. “But it’s the world we’re in and we have to pay more attention.”
More than $19 million in grants to several key connected health projects see more
The federal government is investing more than $19 million in key telehealth initiatives, including the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) and Telehealth Centers of Excellence (COE) program.
Some 36 awards are being distributed by the Health and Human Services Department through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth to some of the nation’s highest-profile connected health projects. The investments are aimed at strengthening programs and supporting innovation in areas that have seen record adoption and growth during the pandemic.
“Telehealth expands access to care and is a vital tool for improving health equity by providing timely clinical assessment and treatment for our most vulnerable populations,” HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa said in a press release issued this morning. “This funding will help drive the innovation necessary to build clinical networks, educational opportunities, and trusted resources to further advance telehealth.”
The TRC consortium, which consists of 12 regional and two national centers, is getting $4.55 million – or $325,000 per site - to bolster and expand their efforts. The TRCs, which provide a wide range of guidance and resources, have seen heavy traffic over the past year and a half as healthcare providers and other organizations have adopted telehealth to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The Telehealth COE program, meanwhile, is getting $6.5 million to expand services and strategies aimed at improving access and outcomes in underserved parts of the country that deal with high chronic care needs and poverty, and to serve as incubators for new telehealth ideas. Located in academic medical centers, COEs are seen as national models for evidence-based programs and strategies that promote best practices.
In 2017, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) were designated Telehealth Centers of Excellence. The award is being split between the two programs.
The Evidence-Based Direct-to-Consumer Telehealth Network Program (EB-TNP) is getting roughly $3.8 million to bolster its DTC telehealth efforts. Those awards are being issued to 11 organizations: HealthHIE Georgia, Cornerstone Whole Healthcare in Idaho, Drake University in Iowa, the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Baptist Health Foundation Corbin in Kentucky, MaineHealth, UMMC, Lester E. Cox Medical University in Missouri, the Ben Archer Health Center in New Mexico, East Carolina University in North Carolina and Texas A&M University.
Finally, the Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program (TTELP) is getting about $4.28 million to “help specialists at academic medical centers provide training and support to primary care providers in rural, frontier, and other underserved areas to help treat patients with complex conditions ranging from long COVID to substance use disorders in their communities.”
Those awards are going to nine organizations: Community Health Center in Connecticut, the American Academy of Pediatrics in Illinois, the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Medical Care Development in Maine, the JSI Research and Training Institute in Massachusetts, President and Fellows of Harvard College in Massachusetts, the University of New Mexico, Oregon Health & Science University and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust.
Lecture hall in new facility to be named for donor see more
A lecture hall in the college’s new pharmacy facility will be named the Bobby Gene ‘63 and Barbara Harter Rippy Lecture Hall.
Noted Union, South Carolina, philanthropist Barbara Harter Rippy has made a $1 million commitment to the College of Pharmacy at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The donation will support the mission and vision of the college.
In recognition of this major gift, the college is naming the lecture hall in its new pharmacy facility the Bobby Gene ‘63 and Barbara Harter Rippy Lecture Hall. A virtual groundbreaking for the new facility was held in April.
“The Rippys exemplify the best characteristics of independent community pharmacy ownership,” said Philip Hall, Pharm.D., dean of the MUSC College of Pharmacy. “Trusted caregivers, community leaders, dedicated to customers, good businesspeople and great models for our students. We’re delighted the Rippy name will have such a prominent place at MUSC.”
For 34 years, the Rippys owned and operated Smith Drug Store on Main Street in Union. In 1959, Bobby Rippy enrolled at the MUSC College of Pharmacy while Barbara Rippy continued to work, supporting the family until her husband earned a pharmacy degree that would eventually enable them to buy Smith Drug Store in 1969.
The Rippys became community leaders and benefactors, supporting civic and church organizations as well as sponsoring a Dixie Youth baseball team for 44 years. They retired in 2004 and continued to be vibrant and active parts of Union civic life, participating in and supporting more than a half dozen organizations. Bobby Rippy passed away in 2012.
The Rippys have long been known for their generosity of spirit; they were giving back when they barely had anything to give. Barbara Rippy credits God first for her ability to give so generously. Not long after opening the pharmacy, when a customer had charged children’s prescriptions four times in a row, Bobby Rippy said, “As long as I live, and I’ve got any money, no child will go without their medication.” They stuck by that maxim, and when they closed, they were still owed $75,000.
“We didn’t miss one dime of that,” Barbara Rippy said. “When you’re good to people, they are good to you. After all the professors did for Bobby to help him become a pharmacist, I told Larry that I wanted to give the College of Pharmacy $1 million so that students for years to come would have the same opportunity to fulfill their dreams of becoming pharmacists as well,” she explained, recounting her conversation with Larry Craine, her longtime financial advisor.
The lecture hall named after the Rippys in the new pharmacy facility reflects that special bond between student and professors. The state-of-the-art lecture hall is dedicated for pharmacy instruction, making it a vital and highly visible site of shared experience for every MUSC pharmacy student and faculty member.
“Having a dedicated lecture hall for them to learn and interact is essential,” said Chris Wisniewski, Pharm.D., professor and nationally acclaimed expert in pharmacy education. “New space with new technology allows faculty to experiment in the educational realm and identify new ways to educate our students.”
MUSC completes purchase of hospitals see more
Providence Health is no more in the Capital City.
The hospital, originally founded by the Catholic Sister of Charity, is now state-owned MUSC Health Columbia Medical Center, following the finalization of its purchase by MUSC Health University Medical Center.
With the $75 million purchase South Carolina’s second-largest hospital system added Providence’s downtown and northeast facilities to its fleet of care centers around the state, as well as the former KershawHealth hospital in Camden — now known as MUSC Health Kershaw Medical Center — and the emergency room in Fairfield County — now known as MUSC Health Fairfield Emergency and Imaging.
The hospitals were previously owned by Tennessee-based for-profit LifePoint Health.
All of LifePoint’s existing 2,000 employees were offered to remain on staff under the new ownership, said MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley said.
The deal takes MUSC to more than 2,000 beds and 19,000 employees across the state.
Buying Providence Health is the latest in MUSC’s major expansion outside of its Charleston base where it had been contained for nearly 200 years before it branched outside the area for the first time with the acquisition of four community hospitals in 2019. The public, nonprofit health system receives financial support out of the state budget.
The deal comes months after Prisma Health, the state’s largest health care system terminated its own agreement to purchase LifePoint’s facilities. Prisma, which operates three major hospitals in Columbia, abandoned its efforts April 9 after it was plagued for more than a year by legal and regulatory challenges.
Had the purchase been finalized, it would have taken the Columbia area down to two hospital systems — Prisma and Lexington Medical Center. And it would have made the state’s largest system even larger.
7 years in a row for MUSC see more
MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston was named by U.S. News & World Report for the seventh year in a row as the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina, with three of MUSC Health’s specialty areas ranking among the best in the entire country: ear, nose and throat; gynecology and cancer.
Seventeen other MUSC Health programs are considered “high performing” specialties, procedures or conditions in the 2021-2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings: gastroenterology and GI surgery, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery, heart attack, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, back surgery (spinal fusion), hip replacement, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer surgery, pneumonia, stroke, colon cancer surgery, rheumatology, orthopedics and urology.
In addition, MUSC Health Florence Medical Center is designated as “high performing” in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.
“Once again, South Carolinians can take great pride and comfort in the knowledge that their only public, statewide hospital system is consistently cited as one of the best in the country,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and MUSC vice president for Health Affairs, University. “It’s a transformational time in health care and these rankings are a testament to our care team’s commitment to ensure that our patients are receiving the right care, in the right place and at the right time. The achievements in our Charleston and Florence divisions made despite the pandemic should remind us all what’s possible through innovation, teamwork, and growth.”
U.S. News & World Report unveiled the 32th edition of the Best Hospitals rankings at https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Designed to help patients with life-threatening or rare conditions identify hospitals that excel in treating the most difficult cases, Best Hospitals 2021-22 includes consumer-friendly data and information on 4,750 medical centers nationwide in 15 specialties and 17 procedures and conditions. In the 15 specialty areas, 175 hospitals were ranked in at least one specialty. In rankings by state and metro area, U.S. News & World Report recognized hospitals as high performing across multiple areas of care.
“I am so proud that U.S. News & World Report has recognized MUSC Health Florence Medical Center as high performing in four areas – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure,” said Jay Hinesley, MUSC Health Florence Division CEO. “The last year has been a challenge for everyone in health care, and these recognitions are a true testament to all the hard work of our care team members and their dedication to our patients, families and communities. We are committed to continuing to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina and beyond.”
The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals methodologies, in most areas of care, are based largely or entirely on objective measures such as risk-adjusted survival and readmission rates, volume, patient experience, patient safety and quality of nursing, among other care-related indicators.
1. - U.S. News & World Report’s produced Best Hospitals with RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Another SC start-up is making good see more
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.
Goal to develop innovative products focused on improving the health of state residents see more
The Medical University of South Carolina’s Department of Surgery Human-Centered Design Program and The Citadel Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business Innovation Lab will collaborate on a joint effort.
The program will create a core team of medical students, residents and Citadel cadets and students who will develop innovative products focused on improving the health of state residents, MUSC said in a news release.
Both programs similarly promote innovative thinking. The BSB Innovation Lab focuses on teaching students the value of ground-breaking thinking and offers then the chance and guidance to invent and helm business ideas, build out a business plan and pitch ideas to investors.
MUSC’s HCD program was founded to develop original ways to solve unmet surgical and medical needs. The program is led by Joshua Kim and was established under the leadership of chief of surgical oncology Dr. David Mahvi and vice chair of research Michael Yost, Ph.D.
The two programs were brought together in March 2020 when the country faced protective mask shortages, particularly N-95 versions, as the pandemic picked up pace.
During that time, Kim’s team of biomedical engineers and medical professionals developed plans for 3D-printed masks. The BSB Innovation Lab then collaborated with MUSC to print more than 500 masks to help to resolve the region’s shortage.
“Through this new partnership, we can seamlessly innovate a design, develop a business plan and produce products that improve patient care,” said Mahvi.
By coming together, the partnership promotes collaboration, academic growth and learning opportunities students may not have experienced in their respective schools. Residents and medical students are immersed in business training and entrepreneurship skills, while business students are exposed to the health care system.
By working together, Capt. James Bezjian, director of the Innovation Lab and an assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in the Baker School of Business, said the schools are able to work on projects that have “life-changing” capabilities.
“The relationship the BSB Innovation Lab built with MUSC during the height of the pandemic provided an opportunity for us to partner and continue working toward improving the lives of medical professionals and the patients they take care of,” Bezjian said.
BridgeBio Pharma Announces Collaboration with MUSC Foundation for Research Development, 2 Other Research InstitutionsWill identify and advance therapies for genetic diseases and cancers see more
BridgeBio Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: BBIO), a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company founded to discover, create, test and deliver meaningful medicines for patients with genetic diseases and cancers with clear genetic drivers, today announced three new academic collaborations with MUSC Foundation for Research Development, Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) to translate cutting-edge discoveries into potential therapies for patients with genetic diseases and genetically driven cancers.
"The chance to partner with exceptional researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, Stanford University and University of Pittsburgh is a privilege, and we believe will help us advance our mission to discover, create, test and deliver life-changing medicines for patients in need as rapidly as possible," said BridgeBio founder and CEO Neil Kumar, Ph.D.
To date, BridgeBio has worked with 23 leading institutions throughout the country that are focused on providing treatment options to patients as quickly and safely as possible. For a list of some of the institutions BridgeBio is partnered with, please visit Our Partners page.
MUSC Foundation for Research Development
MUSC Foundation for Research Development provides technology transfer services to Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), which is a patient-centric research institution with several hospitals in South Carolina and is considered the state's top healthcare provider. MUSC's innovative and high-quality research will allow for early identification of research programs with a strong potential to be beneficial for patients. Through this partnership, BridgeBio may sponsor research programs and support the development of identified programs toward potential clinical investigation through its licensing and affiliate development model.
"Like BridgeBio, we have a patients first mentality, so partnering together on early research will be an excellent opportunity to advance our innovation in the hope of generating new therapies for patients," said Scott Davis, Ph.D., senior director of innovation support and commercialization of MUSC Foundation for Research Development.
About BridgeBio Pharma, Inc.
BridgeBio Pharma (BridgeBio) is a biopharmaceutical company founded to discover, create, test and deliver transformative medicines to treat patients who suffer from genetic diseases and cancers with clear genetic drivers. BridgeBio's pipeline of over 30 development programs ranges from early science to advanced clinical trials and its commercial organization is focused on delivering the company's first two approved therapies. BridgeBio was founded in 2015 and its team of experienced drug discoverers, developers and innovators are committed to applying advances in genetic medicine to help patients as quickly as possible. For more information visit bridgebio.com.
Hospitals are currently part of LifePoint Health see more
During the June meeting, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees voted to purchase Providence Health and KershawHealth, which are currently part of LifePoint Health. The acquisition will include three community hospitals, a freestanding emergency department (FSED) and affiliated physician practice locations serving communities in the Midlands.
Providence Health serves Columbia, S.C., and the surrounding region, with two full-service hospitals and a freestanding emergency room. KershawHealth is a full-service medical center located in Camden, S.C., which has been an affiliate of MUSC Health since 2015.
“This is an exciting day for MUSC and for the state as we continue to develop our network with the acquisition of these health care facilities and establish a larger footprint in rural and underserved counties,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “As the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, we understand that we have a responsibility to enable better access to complex, high-end care while working to facilitate the best-quality local care possible. This acquisition will broaden our ability to serve greater numbers of patients, families and communities and that is a reason to celebrate,” Cole stated.
“MUSC has tremendous potential to meet the growing needs of patients and families around our state. That is why we are excited about today’s announcement. As the only comprehensive health sciences facility in the state, with an unmatched record of patient care and meaningful research, MUSC has the unique capacity to improve health outcomes for those it serves,” said James Lemon, D.M.D., chairman of the MUSC board.
“We are excited about the prospect of joining MUSC Health,” said Terry Gunn, market chief executive officer of Providence Health and KershawHealth. “Our objective is and has always been positioning our facilities for success so that we can fulfill our purpose of delivering high-quality care close to home. Aligning Providence and Kershaw with a preeminent regional academic health system will benefit our employees, providers and community, giving us new opportunities to change what’s possible in health care for our region.”
“This acquisition has the potential to be transformative for the Midlands and state,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “Our team looks forward to welcoming the patients, families and employees of Providence Health and KershawHealth to the MUSC Health network. We cannot wait to move forward, connecting our education, research and comprehensive health care mission to the three hospitals in Columbia and Camden as well as the freestanding emergency department in Winnsboro and the affiliated practice locations across the Midlands.”
MUSC Health anticipates hiring all active employees in good standing at compensation levels generally consistent with current rates and fair market value. MUSC team members will meet with the administrators at each of the facilities to determine staffing and needs, with the intent to make operations as efficient and successful as possible, maximizing value to patients, families and their respective communities.
“MUSC Health has existing relationships with several of these facilities through our longstanding affiliate network,” Cawley explained. “Incorporating them into our regional hospital network is another step toward fulfilling MUSC’s charge: to provide the right care in the right place at the right time to every patient and family that we encounter. This acquisition supports these efforts by increasing the reach of our network, enhancing our ability to deliver the highest- quality care at maximum efficiency as well as greater value for more communities statewide. We are excited to be fully integrated now with KershawHealth and will continue to work with our present partners and affiliates in the Midlands region to increase health care access and improve health outcomes.”
Terms of the transaction have not yet been disclosed. The transaction can only be finalized after review and approval by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, which provides fiscal oversight for the state and meets the public sector needs by delivering quality, cost-effective insurance, procurement and engineering services. In addition, other customary regulatory reviews must also be completed.
The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serve as separate bodies to govern the university and hospital. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/leadership/board/index.html.
About The Medical University of South Carolina
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 325 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.4 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.
About Providence Health
Providence Health is one of the top-rated health systems in Columbia, SC. In total, Providence employs more than 1,800 dedicated staff. Founded in 1938 by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, Providence is known statewide for outstanding clinical quality and compassionate care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services awarded Providence Health a 4-star rating. The Providence open heart surgery program has consistently ranked in the top 15 percent of open heart programs in the nation. Both orthopedics and cardiac services have received the South Carolina BlueCross BlueShield Blue Distinction Center designation. For more information, visit YourProvidenceHealth.com.
Founded in 1913 as Camden Hospital, KershawHealth is a full-service healthcare system proudly serving its community members in Kershaw County. KershawHealth is a 119-bed medical center and a 20-bed geriatric psychiatric unit. KershawHealth employs more than 700 dedicated staff. For more information, visit www.KershawHealth.org.
About LifePoint Health
LifePoint Health is a leading healthcare company dedicated to Making Communities Healthier®. Through its subsidiaries, it provides quality inpatient, outpatient and post-acute services close to home. LifePoint owns and operates community hospitals, regional health systems, physician practices, outpatient centers and post-acute facilities across the country. More information about the company can be found at www.LifePointHealth.net.
MUSC spinoff helps to manage pharmacy costs for hospitals see more
A Medical University of South Carolina spinoff that built a software platform to help health care systems monitor and manage their pharmaceutical costs has raised more capital.
QuicksortRx Inc. did not disclose the size of the investment round in a written statement issued June 15, saying it was a private transaction.
The company, which has moved its headquarters to the recently completed Charleston Tech Center on Morrison Drive, also has added two local industry veterans to its board.
The new directors at QuicksortRx are Shawn Jenkins and Steve Swanson, who provided the investment capital.
Jenkins is co-founder and the former CEO of Benefitfocus Inc., a Nasdaq-listed traded software firm based on Daniel Island that he helped take public in 2013. He also became a primary benefactor of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital after he pledged to donate $25 million toward the $390 million project in 2015.
Swanson ran Automated Trading Desk in Mount Pleasant before selling the financial technology business to Wall Street giant Citigroup for $680 million in 2007. He currently serves on the boards of the Bank of South Carolina, YESCarolina and the College of Charleston, among other organizations.
“We are excited to welcome two of Charleston’s great tech business leaders who have shown not only their expertise in building amazing companies, but also their commitment to the Charleston community,” said Jonathan Yantis, CEO of QuicksortRx.
Yantis and co-founder Matt Hebbard launched the company within the MUSC Innovation Center in 2016. The early goal was create a software platform that would allow the sprawling health system to track its pharmaceutical supply chain in real time and make purchasing adjustments to help lower medication expenses.
It was later spun off as AscendRx before being renamed last year.
“Our tools are helping health systems around the country realize millions of dollars in pharmacy purchase savings without increasing workloads for staff,” QuicksortRx said on its website.
More mentoring, better healthcare access for students on teh way see more
In collaboration with the South Carolina Technical College System, Spartanburg Community College (SCC), and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (OCTech), Lauren Gellar, Ph.D., division director for Health Care studies at the MUSC College of Health Professions, developed new pre-health professions transfer tracks, specialized academic advising and a mentorship program to support students applying for the online BS in Healthcare Studies program. The institutions are working together to strengthen local communities in South Carolina by providing opportunities for students to live and work within their community while earning a bachelor’s degree. This is the first year that students have been able to register for one of these tracks and between SCC and OCtech, and there are nearly 60 students enrolled.
“I think the keywords are accessibility, opportunity, and affordability,” explains Jenny Williams, dean of Arts and Sciences at SCC. “Our Applied Associates of Science pre-health professions tracks are going to help them be better students while getting them where they need to be much sooner.”
The bachelor’s in science in Healthcare Studies program was created to increase access to the health professions higher education for rural, first-generation and underrepresented minority students across South Carolina. The program allows students to continue working and supporting their families while advancing their education at the only comprehensive academic health sciences center in the state. Many students that apply to the Healthcare Studies program have already earned an associate degree or completed the prerequisite courses at one of 16 two-year colleges within the South Carolina Technical College System.
The new pre-health professions tracks at SCC and OCtech enable students to complete the prerequisite coursework for health professions graduate programs while completing their associate degree. When they’re ready to transfer, they can complete their BS in Healthcare Studies degree at MUSC online and apply to the graduate program of their choice without completing additional coursework. Transfer partnerships like this reduce credit loss and save students money and time. The tracks also help increase awareness of the many career options in the health professions while providing structured support and academic advising. The first tracks developed are Pre-Medicine, Pre-Dental, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Physician Assistant Studies, Pre-Occupational Therapy and Pre-Healthcare Administration.
OCtech’s, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Donna Elmore is thrilled about the collaborative effort. “The opportunity to open so many more doors for our students is very meaningful and exciting,” said Elmore. “The way these tracks and the Healthcare Studies program embrace and value the 2-year professional degree students already have is such an added value for the state of South Carolina.”
Stefanie Gadson Brown, dean of Pre-Health Professions and Workforce Development, believes the way they’ve designed their advising models at OCtech will be a game changer for students. “We want students to make sound decisions on what they want to do and explore that, so when they leave us, they’re not going into a program they don’t really know anything about,” Brown said. “Students gain exposure to what they might be interested in, both clinical and real-world job experience that allows them to earn an income and build a resume while they go to school.”
Many students enroll with a general idea of what they want to do – for example, working with children – but they don’t know what avenues are available. The advising models help students explore their options and find their dream job. Students who are considering more than one pathway can work with their advisor to select the courses that will provide them with insight and experience in each profession so they can make an informed decision on their future.
“Our AAS program gives students the empowerment and connections they need to move along efficiently, achieve their dreams and get to work in a much quicker fashion,” explained Williams. “The paths don’t guarantee admission, but if students do well, they’re going to solidify their own path.”
Gellar has always viewed mentorship as an integral part of the academic experience; she also enjoys it. In addition to the transfer tracks and specialized academic advising, she initiated an MUSC faculty mentorship program for SCTC students and alumni.
This past year Gellar received 15 applicants for the program and is now working directly with five students. They meet monthly to check in on their progress and she guides each student through the college application process. They work on topics including goal setting, academic advisement, career advisement, and soft skills training.
“To me, the mentorship program really speaks volumes to how far MUSC is willing to go to help our students and our community,” says Brown. “MUSC has really simplified the process, and Dr. Gellar goes above and beyond. Sometimes I forget that we don’t work at the same college. Any time I ask, Dr. Gellar is there. That’s how easy and consistent the working relationship is. I can’t say enough good things about the faculty, student services, and admission staff at MUSC.”
Brown has already noticed the impact that partnering with MUSC has had on OCtech and their students. “We always tried to have pathways set up for students, but I think what was really missing was MUSC,” she said.
Registrations Surge, Partnering and Virtual Exhibit Hall Draw Strong Interest see more
A newly announced group of national and state leaders will join Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath in headlining SCBIO's “The Power of Us” virtual conference slated for broadcast Feb. 16-17.
Newly announced additions include Microsoft Vice President Jamie Harper, who leads the global corporation's team supporting both higher education and K-12 initiatives across America, and Bill Stadtlander, Commercial Leader of Verily, the Google subsidiary focused on life sciences and use of health data and AI to improve lives.
At Microsoft, Mr. Harper leads a team that supports higher education and K-12 initiatives impacting students, teachers, and leaders both public and private. He previously has led Microsoft's US Education team and served as the General Manager of ten countries in Asia and South Africa. Prior to Microsoft, Jamie worked for The Coca-Cola Company and Westinghouse Power Generation. He holds an MBA from Emory University, and a degree in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Economics from Clemson University.
Mr. Stadtlander is the Commercial Lead at Verily for Baseline, its end-to-end digital platform solution to transform clinical research by increasing participation, driving efficiency and incorporating novel data. Bill has over 15 years of commercial healthcare experience with prior roles at Ceribell, Element Science, Boston Scientific and McKinsey & Co.'s healthcare practice. He holds an MBA from Wharton, a Master of Biotechnology from University of Pennsylvania, and Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering degrees from MIT.
Also named to speak at SCBIO 2021 are Courtney Christian, Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA and former leader of the Black Women's Health Imperative; Dr. Harris Pastides, former USC President and outgoing chair of the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health; Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health; and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, Dean of the USC School of Medicine - Upstate and Chief Academic Officer of Prisma Health Upstate, among other speakers.
Themed “The Power of Us,” the 2-day SCBIO 2021 virtual event will feature sessions on The Power of Innovation, The Power of Partnership, and The Power of People – each a fundamental force which drives the state’s surging $12 billion industry that is a key contributor to South Carolina’s expanding knowledge economy.
The conference will feature a virtual exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry organizations from across the country, and presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2020 Organization of the Year and Individual of the Year. SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros will deliver the “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, while attendees can schedule 1-to-1 meetings with top executives through the conference’s Partnering Portal.
Hundreds of life sciences leaders from across the nation are already registered to attend with hundreds more expected. SCBIO's virtual conference is supported by Presenting Sponsor Vikor Scientific, Champion Sponsor Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Keynote Sponsor Medpoint and others. Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating are Nephron, Vikor, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.
Registration is open online at the 2021 Virtual Conference section of www.scbio.org. Registration is free to employees of most SCBIO investors and supporters as well as to students interested in life sciences careers, while faculty and teachers can attend the entire conference for $25. General admission tickets are available for as little as $75. Virtual Exhibit space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 750 firms directly involved and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.
For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.