Robert Caslen

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    Prisma Health, USC to collaborate on innovations see more

    The University of South Carolina and Prisma Health – the state’s largest not-for-profit health organization – are announcing a partnership that aims to encourage the development and implementation of innovative health care delivery models, medical devices, digital health applications, and treatments for diseases.

    Under the arrangement, which was approved by UofSC’s Board of Trustees on February 21, the University’s Office of Economic Engagement will assist Prisma Health – along with the UofSC Schools of Medicine in Columbia and Greenville – in identifying opportunities to develop mutually beneficial relationships with industry partners, bridging the gap between Prisma Health’s cutting-edge health research and the development of new technologies that help patients.

    “At Prisma Health, we strive to go beyond treating diseases or their symptoms and aim to find cures and to design medical devices and digital capabilities that allow us to restore and transform lives,” said Mark O’Halla, President and Chief Executive Officer at Prisma Health. “Harnessing our expertise and that of the University of South Carolina together will help us accelerate our ability to address society’s most significant health challenges.“

    Specifically, Prisma Health and UofSC will collaborate on a number of opportunities, including intellectual property patents and technology transfer support, operations development, cybersecurity, institutional insights, and strategic planning – all towards the shared goal of furthering research and innovation towards improving treatments and health care delivery.  At its core, this partnership will drive innovation through UofSC’s extended successes delivering education, mentoring programs, and incubation asset development, as well as Prisma Health’s experience in leveraging its clinical and non-clinical expertise  in the health care market, to drive innovations from benchside prototypes to clinical outcomes. 

    “This strengthens the outstanding partnership that already exists with Prisma Health. We are greatly committed to addressing the health needs of all South Carolina residents, and working together with Prisma in academics, research and patient care will make a real difference,” said UofSC President Bob Caslen.

    As the state’s flagship university, UofSC is uniquely suited to help Prisma Health develop research or innovation partnerships that can lead to higher healthcare outcomes for patients across the state. This new relationship builds off of previous partnerships the university had with Prisma Health and its legacy predecessors, Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health, before they combined in 2019 to form Prisma Health. 

    “We have an extensive history of facilitating and supporting innovation efforts across multiple sectors,” said Bill Kirkland, executive director of UofSC’s Office of Economic Engagement. “Through this partnership with Prisma Health, we will now apply our commercialization and entrepreneurial successes to healthcare and life sciences.  While this relationship will bear fruit for both insitutions, the real winners are the people of South Carolina, who stand to benefit from better access to care, innovative treatments, and the latest applications of research.”

    “Prisma Health is committed to improving the health of South Carolinians,”  said Brenda Thames, Prisma Health chief academic executive officer. “We are adapting to an ever-changing and increasingly challenging healthcare environment by becoming a learning health system that adopts rapid cycle innovation processes. While research provides the mechanism for evaluating and comparing the effectiveness of existing care models, innovation allows us to develop and improve new care models.”

    Dr. David Cull, Prisma Health vice president of clinical and academic integration, added, “Through this partnership, we will create, test, and implement innovative initiatives that challenge the status quo and have the potential to reduce the cost of care, improve quality, and increase access to healthcare services.”

  • Sam Patrick posted an article
    USC, Nephron partner to improve safety through automation see more

    Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation has joined forces with the University of South Carolina's College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy to design and implement an automation process that significantly boosts production of pre-filled medication, reducing the physical burden on workers and increasing patient safety.

    Traditionally, pre-filled syringes are filled by hand in clean-room environments. In recent years, federal regulations governing sterile compounding have become more stringent and complex as a result of accidental contaminations.  The use of robots to compound prescription products exceeds those new federal guidelines and provides a more sterile environment with better accuracy and precision than traditional methods of compounding. 

    The research collaboration with Nephron will position UofSC to develop state-of-the-art sterile compounding methods benefiting hospitals throughout South Carolina and the nation.

    “Demand for pre-filled medication has exploded in recent years, and our company is responding to the market needs for affordable and accessible life-saving medications in pre-filled syringes,” said Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy. “We are excited to partner with innovative students and leading researchers from Engineering and Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina to meet the demands of hospitals and patients, and we look forward to working together for years to come.”

    To help Nephron meet the market demand, the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy have finalized plans to build a fully functional sterile compounding lab at the McNAIR Aerospace Center. This fully functional, first-of-its-kind compounding suite will offer students the opportunity to learn and develop the techniques of sterile, robotic manufacturing processes for human drug compounding. 

    Between the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy, well over a dozen undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students are involved in the project. Utilizing a state-of-the-art robot from UofSC corporate partner Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, as well as Process Simulate — a Siemens software package included in its $628 million gift to McNAIR Center and to the College of Engineering and Computing in 2017 — these students are learning skills that will immediately translate to increased job opportunities upon graduation.

    “This team is a unique collection of talents, not just from engineering but with advisers from the College of Pharmacy and partners from Office of Economic Engagement as well,” said Ramy Harik of the McNAIR Aerospace Center, who leads the project design team. “By bringing together a cross-disciplinary team, and constantly seeking feedback from Nephron engineers and pharmacists, our students are building a real-life application that, when completed, will be implemented in production. Particularly for our undergraduate students, this type of impactful research experience is invaluable.”

    The Nephron project is a continuation of an ongoing university partnership with the company. When Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. opened its manufacturing campus in West Columbia in 2015, proximity to the flagship research university was an important factor. Owned and operated by UofSC alumni Lou (’84) and Bill (’66) Kennedy, whose $30 million endowment created The Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center (KPIC) in the College of Pharmacy in 2010, Nephron has found success by meeting the increasing demand for pre-filled medications at medical facilities nationwide.

    “Our engagement with industry leaders like Nephron is key to helping our students gain important knowledge and experience while solving real-world problems,” said UofSC President Bob Caslen. “By tapping into our research expertise, our corporate partners can bring innovative products to market, which grows their businesses and the state’s economy. That ensures more opportunity for all South Carolinians and furthers our university system’s mission of service.”

    Nephron is a certified woman-owned business and one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical companies in the country.  In 2017, they added a $12.5 million, 36,000-square-foot expansion to its manufacturing facility so they would be strategic in meeting the U.S. drug shortages. By partnering with UofSC students and researchers, Nephron seeks to fully automate parts of the syringe-filling process.