South Carolina life sciences is surging across the state, experts say see more
When describing today’s South Carolina’s life sciences industry, words like "surging" and “booming” are often mentioned.
Life sciences is diverse, with seven sectors: drugs and pharmaceuticals; medical devices and equipment; digital health solutions; research, medical and testing laboratories; bioscience distribution; bio-agriculture and ecosystem support.
Surprisingly, life sciences are South Carolina’s fastest-growing industry -- not more expected industries like automotive, tires, or aerospace, notes Erin Ford, Interim CEO of SCBIO -- a nonprofit dedicated to building, advancing and growing life sciences here.
“A 2017 study by USC's Moore School of Business showed 402 life science companies in South Carolina – that’s grown to over 700 today. It employed over 43,000 South Carolinians and generated $12 billion in impact,” said Ms. Ford.
USC earns $400,000 grant see more
The U.S. Economic Development Administration today announced the 50 organizations that will share in grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development as part of the Build to Scale program. The 2021 awardees will leverage an additional $40 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources. SSTI has been a proponent of the Build to Scale program, which had not received any federal appropriations prior to the creation of SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council.
The 50 organizations hail from 26 states and include venture development organizations, state agencies, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and other entrepreneurship-focused organizations. The FY 2021 Build to Scale program was comprised of two competitions –– the Venture Challenge, which leverages regional strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship, and the Capital Challenge, which increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs.
The full list of recipients is available here, and SSTI is happy to recognize a number of members among the winners, including:
2021 Venture Challenge Grant Recipients:
- Arizona Commerce Authority, Phoenix, Arizona, $750,000
- Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $657,622
- Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri, $1.5 million
- FuzeHub, Albany, New York, $753,546
- Launch New York, Buffalo, New York, $750,000
- Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana, $1.5 million
- Rev1 Ventures, Columbus, Ohio, $1.4 million
2021 Capital Challenge Grant Recipients:
- TechTown Detroit, Detroit, Michigan, $400,000
- University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, $400,000
Looking to expand in Upstate South Carolina see more
UofSC’s Office of Innovation, Partnerships and Economic Engagement (OIPEE) is seeking to expand its footprint in the Upstate.
OIPEE Deputy Director Chad Hardaway said his office is focused on connecting innovators and entrepreneurs with university resources to help navigate the process from developing an idea to bringing it to the marketplace. To help accomplish that goal, Hardaway recently added consultant Sam English to the team.
With a background in biochemistry, English said he will be working with Prisma Health innovators to connect with OIPEE resources. In the two months since coming on board, he said he has been reaching out to people within the Prisma system to understand what the needs are and how to connect them with the innovation ecosystem at UofSC.
“It’s fertile ground to be working in,” English said. “While I’ve only been here two months, I feel like I’ve been drinking from the fire hose.”
He added that he’s discussed everything from back-of-the-envelope ideas to fully functional prototypes of medical devices developed by Prisma staff.
Hardaway said that while English is focused on strengthening relationships with the Prisma system, the longer-term goal is to expand OIPEE’s Upstate presence to include a satellite office dedicated to broader innovation initiatives in fields like cybersecurity, aerospace and high-tech manufacturing, often referred to now as Manufacturing 4.0.
English and Hardaway said a core motto of OIPEE is to “connect, collaborate and commercialize.” English added that with the Upstate’s pool of engineering talent, thanks to the influence of companies like BMW and Lockheed-Martin, many of the pieces are already in place to build on and expand an innovation environment.
He said his job is, in part, to pave the way for OIPEE to become more involved in helping build the series of connections that link creativity to a marketable product.
“With that integrated approach, there are a lot of opportunities to develop successes,” English said.
For more information about USC’s Office of Innovation, Partnerships and Economic Engagement, visit sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/economic_engagement.
Nephron went looking for a way to automate syringe-filling for small batch manufacturing, found more see more
t’s no secret that working long hours in a cleanroom environment can be grueling. The bunny suits can get sweltering and the hours doing monotonous tasks can drag. On top of that, staffing cleanroom techs for an around-the-clock operation can be a major challenge for pharma companies.
With the hope of overcoming these issues, South Carolina-based Nephron Pharmaceuticals recently went looking for a way to automate syringe-filling for small batch manufacturing and turned to the brainpower nearby.
Within the University of South Carolina, the Office of Innovation, Partnerships, and Economic Engagement (OIPEE) provides a way for companies to engage with students and faculty to solve vexing industry problems.
“The university can bring a client in, and we’ll create a solution for that client with advanced manufacturing,” Bill Kirkland, executive director of OIPEE, explains.
For Nephron, that solution was robotics. After striking up a partnership, students and researchers from UofSC eventually innovated a new automated syringe-filling system that utilizes flexible, high-speed robots provided by Yaskawa Motoman and processing power developed by Siemens. According to Kirkland, the system’s robotic arm that works under a single hood is part of what makes it unique. It was also designed specifically for small-batch operations, and importantly for Nephron, the new technology will help eliminate manufacturing downtime.
“We have a workforce issue in that we have lots of trained sterile pharma techs, but expecting them to show up every shift 24/7 is challenging,” Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron, says. “So, for example, if someone calls in sick, this allows us to do many steps using robotics, and it keeps us from having to shut down.”
Although there are other robotic syringe-filling solutions on the market, Kennedy says she has never seen a system as small and nimble as the one built by UofSC.
“It operates underneath a flow hood in a cleanroom and that’s important because we are working with injectables,” Kennedy says. “And it’s compact and can move from one cleanroom to another.”
After the technology was developed, the system was installed in a Nephron facility earlier this year, where Kennedy says the company is perfecting the tech and it is being commercially validated. Once they find the manufacturing “sweet spot” and it wins regulatory approval, the companies plan to license and commercialize the technology. Ultimately, the plan is to target biopharma facilities and hospitals in need of small-batch manufacturing solutions.
“By virtue of its previous relationships with Yaskawa and Siemens, UofSC faculty and OIPEE pitched this solution to Nephron, who agreed to bear some of the initial cost of setting up the research facility in the McNAIR [Aerospace] Center,” Kirkland said in a statement this spring. “All three companies, as well as the university, will benefit greatly from the introduction of this system into the commercial space.”
In addition to being a boon for the Nephron, the collaboration also showcased how industry partnerships can be a stepping stone for engineering and manufacturing students — including those who were not considering a career in pharma before. According to Kirkland, one of the students involved in the collaboration went on to score a job at Siemens, and another did the same at Nephron.
“Partnerships like this one are a win for patients, employees and students, not to mention for companies like ours, that continue to grow and expand our capacity to help others,” Kennedy said in a statement this spring.
University of South Carolina initiative saving lives see more
A gentle hum can be heard from a lab in the depths of the University of South Carolina's life sciences building. Take a peek inside, and you'll find something unusual.
Thousands of tubes of the spit belonging to the university's students, faculty, staff and Columbia residents.
Almost a year ago, the school's colon cancer lab changed course from its usual area of study and started analyzing how it could help as COVID-19 ravaged the world, killing hundreds of thousands across the country and shutting down campuses.
USC professors had a breakthrough when they started studying saliva there, said biomedical sciences professor Phillip Buckhaults.
They ended up creating what looks like a blue cocktail — and it exposes the COVID-19 genome in our saliva.
"We figured out a way to photocopy bits of the COVID genome," Buckhaults said. "It's like a liquid photocopier."
It's proven to be more efficient than nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing. There's no uncomfortable nasal swab involved. Materials for nasal-swab testing are often limited. And these saliva results come quicker. Those who get tested on USC's campus typically receive results within 24 hours.
When the saliva testing first began on campus, scientists were pipetting saliva samples with the "photocopier" liquid to see the COVID-19 genome appeared in the DNA when the saliva was "photocopied" several times.
Because it was done solely by hand, they were able to test only several dozen samples a day.
"The demand was more than we could keep up with," Buckhaults said.
So he sent an email pleading with USC president Harris Pastides for a liquid-handling robot that's able to do the pipetting automatically, saving a lot of time.
Pastides then got South Carolina-based Nephron Pharmaceuticals owner Lou Kennedy to write Buckhault a $14,000 check to buy one of the robots.
"Within two weeks, we went from a junkie, underutilized, decrepit lab space to really state-of-the-art," said laboratory director and professor Carolyn Banister.
Buckhaults also credited former USC president Bob Caslen for removing roadblocks to get more machines and a bigger lab — speeding up the process to speed up the process, so to speak.
Caslen worked with the state government and university officials to get thousands of dollars for lab equipment and borrowed testing machines from nearby labs, Buckhaults said.
"He saved a lot of lives in the Midlands by pouring resources into (Banister) and that lab and getting this test running," Buckhaults said.
Now, the lab is testing about 2,000 samples a day and returning samples within 24 hours, and its reach is beyond the Midlands. Quick-turnaround testing allows people to identify themselves as COVID-19-positive earlier and isolate themselves, reducing the spread of the virus and saving lives.
The testing technology has expanded across the state. USC satellite campuses, including Upstate and Union, as well as Clemson, Winthrop, the College of Charleston and Trident Technical College are able to use the saliva tests created at the USC lab.
The testing is able to recognize different variants of COVID-19 as well.
Two life sciences companies make list for SCRA support see more
Advent Innovations, LLC and DPX Technologies, LLC have been accepted as South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) Member Companies and awarded grant funding. Parimer Scientific, LLC and Prewrite, Inc. have been accepted as Member Companies. As Member Companies, they will receive coaching, access to experts in SCRA’s Resource Partner Network, eligibility to apply for grant funding, and the potential to be considered for an investment from SCRA’s affiliate, SC Launch, Inc.
Advent Innovations Limited Company has been accepted as an SCRA Member Company and awarded a $50,000 Federal Matching Grant. The University of South Carolina-affiliated startup provides services in modeling, analysis, design, and product development using cutting-edge research with novel sensors, big data analytics, and other smart technology such as robotics. Their customers include private corporations and government entities in aerospace, automotive, civil infrastructure, and energy.
DPX Technologies, LLC has been accepted as an SCRA Member Company and awarded a $50,000 Federal Matching Grant. The University of South Carolina-affiliated company manufactures sample lab preparation products and develops custom methods for a diverse client base. Their proprietary and patented INTip™ technologies provide efficient, automated solutions for laboratories that are easy to customize and implement with any workflow or method.
Parimer Scientific, LLC has been accepted as an SCRA Member Company. The Easley-based company provides turn-key laboratory services at competitive rates to biotech and pharmaceutical companies with no upfront capital or long-term commitment needed. In 2020 alone, more than 10,000 units of pharmaceutical products were made at Parimer and shipped directly to the end-users at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes.
Prewrite, Inc. has been accepted as an SCRA Member Company. The Greenville-based startup offers a story development platform for writers, producers, and content creators of all types. Their powerful tool ensures the writer is using good story fundamentals. Stories of any complexity are easily built, piece-by-piece. Originally designed for screenplays, Prewrite is used around the world by professionals and amateurs alike.
SCRA welcomes these new Member Companies!
Grant funding is made possible, in part, by Industry Partnership Fund (IPF) contributions that fuel the state’s innovation economy. Contributors to the IPF receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit, making it an easy and effective way to help one of the fastest growing segments of the South Carolina economy. Grant funding for Member Companies creates a direct, positive economic effect and job creation.
Chartered in 1983 by the State of South Carolina as a public, nonprofit corporation, South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) fuels South Carolina’s innovation economy through the impact of its four programs. SC Academic Innovations provides funding and support to advance translational research and accelerate the growth of university-based startups. SC Facilities offers high-quality laboratory and administrative workspaces for technology-based startups and academic institutions. SC Industry Solutions facilitates and funds partnerships between and among startups, industry, and academia. SC Launch mentors and funds technology-based startups that may also receive investments from SCRA’s investment affiliate, SC Launch, Inc.
USC earns award of excellence see more
In recognition of their dedication and innovations in overcoming the challenges of delivering the experiential curriculum during the past year, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Experiential Education Section has bestowed the Award for Excellence in Experiential Education upon the faculty and staff of experiential offices at the colleges and schools of pharmacy, including the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
The Experiential Education team of Jennifer Baker, director of experiential programs; Whitney Maxwell, associate director of experiential programs; Kathryn Kenard, student service program coordinator; and Nancy Blaisdell, administrative assistant, received certificates of recognition from the AACP during a presentation by Julie Sease, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy.
The AACP Experiential Education Section Award of Excellence in Experiential Education is normally presented each year to an individual, but this year, the organization chose to recognize programs across the country.
When the University closed in March 2020, the Office of Experiential Education for the College of Pharmacy mobilized to a virtual unit overnight as there could be no pause in operations to keep students progressing through the Pharm.D. curriculum. With the status of hundreds of rotations changing on what seemed like an hourly basis during the spring and summer of 2020, Baker and Maxwell navigated rotation rescheduling while Kenard and Blaisdell tirelessly worked through site onboarding requirements to efficiently move students on and off rotation without missing a beat.
“Through the hard work and commitment of our preceptors and practice sites, we were able to successfully graduate the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on time,” says Baker. “Our team was dedicated to our students even while serving on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. While our experiences were not unique, as everyone’s worlds were turned upside down during the pandemic, I can confidently say that our students and College are blessed with the best preceptors and faculty.
“We are so grateful for the unwavering support from College administration and for this recognition by the AACP Experiential Education Section. It was incredible to see the collaboration that occurred within our profession at the local, state and national level to support all pharmacy students.”
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.
Succeeds Dr. Stephen Cutler, who was named USC Interim Provost see more
Julie Sease has been selected as the interim dean of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, effective July 1. She succeeds Stephen Cutler, who was announced as South Carolina’s interim provost.
In her new role, Sease hopes to provide support and stability to the college’s faculty, staff, students and alumni through authentic, selfless leadership. Her priorities include ensuring the faculty’s research and teaching excellence is recognized, continuing the college’s unmatched learning opportunities for students — like those that the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center provides. She also plans to continue the college's commitment to service, like its robust saliva-based COVID-19 testing.
“We have great things happening in the College of Pharmacy, we have excitement for the future, and we have good people to grow with,” Sease says. “My job is to support the great work that’s already being done and to do what I can to provide support and to let our people do what they are here to do.”
Sease received her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of South Carolina in 2003. After completing her residency, she returned to UofSC as a clinical assistant professor for five years. She then went to Presbyterian College, where she became the associate dean for academic affairs, before coming back to the university as a clinical professor and senior associate dean in 2019.
“We have awesome, and I cannot stress this enough, awesome people here at the college in terms of teaching, scholarship, research and service,” Sease says. “Our people care about our students, and they teach our students well. Our people care about their profession, and they serve their profession well. Our people care about one another and that makes for good collegial relationships and a good family feel that our students and faculty want to be involved in. And it’s my job to help make sure that our people continue to feel supported and have opportunities to continue doing great things.”
Cutler says he knows Sease will provide the college the stability it needs as he transitions to his new role.
“Dr. Sease has been an integral member of our college’s family for many years,” he says. “She has proven herself to be an impactful leader who truly cares about the well being of the college and everyone associated with it, including the students, staff, faculty and alumni. The College of Pharmacy is in great hands, and I know that the growth it has experienced in recent years will only continue with her at the helm.”
USC College of Pharmacy hosts special event for minorities see more
The University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy held a COVID-19 vaccine education event at the Juneteenth Freedom Fest. Instructors and students from the college offered science-based information to passersby who had not been vaccinated yet.
DHEC data suggests that minorities make up approximately 43% of South Carolinians who have received at least one COVID-19 shot. Data from DHEC also shows that Black South Carolinians make up just 19.5% of people with at least one dose.
“We feel like we can do better,” said clinical associate instructor and infectious diseases pharmacy specialist Dr. Julie Ann Justo. “We want to protect individuals and their loved ones from contracting COVID-19.”
The college hosts similar community education events regarding various public health issues such as penicillin allergies and flu shots at events like Soda City Market. The program chose to host the COVID-19 vaccination information booth at the Juneteenth event to target specific groups that may be hesitant to get their shot.
“Juneteenth is the place to be this weekend; there’s a lot of joy here, a lot of celebration and remembrance and respect for history,” said Justo. “We’re really excited to be here with the community and listen to their concerns as they relate to COVID-19 vaccination, and hopefully give a little bit of helpful information as well.”
Dr. Justo says the pharmacy students that talked to community members are vaccine experts. She says they have been studying all vaccines for at least four years and they also have extensive knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Jordan Cooler, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy and psychiatric pharmacist, says she hopes the event helped the community understand both the vaccine and the role of pharmacists better. She says pharmacists are among the most accessible medical professionals as they typically don’t require appointments for consultations.
“This is an opportunity for our students to get out into the community and hone those skills, as far as educating individuals and interacting,” said Cooler. “We’re coming and we’re meeting them where they’re at.”
Cooler says the event served to boost vaccine confidence in the community and if people felt more confident getting their shot after speaking to the students, they were able to go get their shot at a vaccine tent that was also at the festival.
The college plans to continue educating the public in the coming weeks about the COVID-19 vaccine to help increase vaccination rates across the state.
UofSC ranks among the world’s top 100 universities granted U.S. patents for the ninth consecutive yearUofSC a leader in US patents... again see more
The University of South Carolina has ranked among the top 100 worldwide universities granted U.S. utility patents since 2012, according to an annual list published by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
In the recently published 2020 listing (pdf), UofSC ranks in the 63rd position with 45 patents granted in 2020. This places Carolina above Ivy League Dartmouth University and many other prestigious American and international institutions, including Carnegie-Mellon and several Southeastern Conference universities. The NAI has included UofSC in its rankings for the ninth consecutive year, placing it more than 25 slots above our 2019 ranking in the 90th position. The listing was compiled using data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
UofSC Vice President for Research Prakash Nagarkatti praised the achievement saying, “It is a credit to our outstanding faculty that their innovation and hard work have kept our university on the NAI top 100 list since it began nine years ago. I am so proud to serve alongside these excellent scholars and inventors.”
Office of Innovation, Partnership and Economic Engagement Executive Director Bill Kirkland echoed Nagarkatti’s sentiments, saying “It is no secret that the University of South Carolina boasts a faculty with amazing research and innovation skills. These outstanding scholars, along with the top leadership at the University of South Carolina who support them through the the Office of Technology Commercialization and others, make it possible for our university to shine on the NAI top 100 list consistently each year. The fact that they have landed Carolina at position 63—higher than ever before—is a testament to their dedication and commitment.”
USC Interim President Dr. Harris Pastides, Sec. of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders to Co-Chair see more
The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) announced today the creation of the Carolinas Pandemic Preparedness Task Force. The task force will be chaired by University of South Carolina Interim President Dr. Harris Pastides and North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders.
Over the past year, IMPH and NCIOM have worked jointly to develop this initiative, which will provide North and South Carolina with recommendations for a resilient response to future disease outbreaks. Task force members, led by steering committee representatives from both states, will work and learn collaboratively to develop evidence-based recommendations to support future state and local planning efforts.
The task force will examine lessons learned during the current pandemic in areas related to health, education and economic and social stability with a guiding focus on equity and responding to the needs of historically marginalized and vulnerable populations.
With funding and support from The Duke Endowment, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation (an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association), and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, steering committee meetings are underway. Full task force meetings will take place from July 2021 to April 2022, followed by the publication of a final report from each state in June 2022.
The South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health (IMPH) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to collectively inform policy to improve health and health care in South Carolina. In conducting its work, IMPH takes a comprehensive approach to advancing health issues through data analysis and translation and collaborative engagement. IMPH seeks to achieve its mission by convening a diverse group of stakeholders around health issues important to South Carolina. Learn more at imph.org
Minority med students get a boost see more
Minority medical students will have a chance to take advantage of a $45,000 annual scholarship at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville for the next 10 years thanks to a recent grant from The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation and the Levi S. Kirkland Sr., M.D. Society.
The total $3.7 million Levi S. Kirkland Sr., M.D. grant will ultimately support 21 students during four years of study at the school with the intention of boosting numbers of underrepresented populations in the field. Patients are 19 to 26 times more likely to seek care from a physician who looks like them and has similar life experiences, according to the news release.
“The Levi S. Kirkland Sr., M.D. Society is a business resource that focuses on mentorship, sponsorship and engaging the community,” Dr. Frank Clark, president of the Levi S. Kirkland Sr., M.D. Society, said in the news release. Clark is clinical assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville and medical director and division chief for adult inpatient and consultation-liaison services at Prisma Health−Upstate. “It’s vitally important, as we serve our communities, that we have a diverse physician workforce.”
The 10-year grant, named after the first Black physician to work in the Greenville Health System, now known as Prisma Health, is the longest-running grant in the foundation’s history and was gifted after the University of South Carolina School of Medicine accepted its most diverse student population yet with a 24% minority cohort, the release said.
The school projects that number to rise to 26% for the 2021 class, according to the release.
“We are thrilled at the opportunities that this grant will provide for our students,” Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, school dean and chief academic officer at Prisma Health−Upstate, said in the release. “This generous grant from the foundation is an important investment in our students and a testament to the excellent medical education we provide to future physicians for the Upstate and across South Carolina.”
Students who receive the scholarship must agree to practice medicine in the Palmetto State for four years.
“One of the biggest worries of medical school is finances, tuition and living expenses,” Dillon Isaac, a medical student at the school and past scholarship recipient, said in the release. “Because of this scholarship, all of my efforts can go into studying medicine, addressing health care disparities, and looking into social determinants of health. Altogether, this will help me give my overall best toward patient care and give back to the community that raised me. With that, I’m extremely excited to share I’ll be continuing my medical training as an internal medicine-pediatrics resident in the Upstate. I’m so excited to follow in the footsteps of the physicians that continuously support and inspire me.”
IMCS growing into new space, adding positions see more
An Irmo-based biotechnology company is investing $4.1 million to expand its Richland County operations in a move expected to create 31 jobs during the next five years.
Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems Inc. creates, manufactures and distributes products and services for clients including clinical and forensic toxicology labs, academic research facilities, federal government agencies and health science companies. In January, the National Institutes of Health awarded the company a $900,000 Small Business Innovation Research Fast-Track grant.
“Over the past several years, IMCS has experienced considerable success as a part of the Richland County business community,” Andrew Lee, IMCS CEO, said in a news release. “The tax incentives provided by the county will allow us to continue investing in people, capital equipment and facilities to expand our company and increase economic development in the county.”
Richland County Council approved a special source revenue credit to reduce property taxes for IMCS by 35% over a 10-year period.
“County Council is always eager to support growing businesses in Richland County, and it is especially exciting to watch a company like IMCS get its start here and achieve so much,” Paul Livingston, county council chair, said. “The investment and new jobs IMCS is bringing to our community will benefit our residents and are evidence of the type of success businesses can achieve here.”
IMCS’ enzymes are used in drug-testing labs, and drug discovery labs use the company’s micro separations products to discover antibodies that can be used to fight diseases such as COVID-19. IMCS is using the federal grant to scale up production of new enzymes that will be used to make therapeutic drugs for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The grant is funding research into the production of affordable gangliosides, biomolecules that contain sugars and a type of lipid called ceramides and play critical roles in various biological processes.
In addition to its headquarters in Richland County, IMCS bought a second nearby facility in 2019 and anticipates purchasing a larger building in the county in the future, according to the release from Richland County. IMCS is combining the existing facilities to ramp up production and delivery of its products to pharmaceutical companies worldwide.
“We were a USC IdeaLabs incubator company and have continued to grow in the county over the past seven years,” Lee said. “As we look to expand our operation to a third facility, it is only natural that we would want to do so here.”
The new investment and jobs will be split between IMCS’ Irmo headquarters and the new facility.
Founded in 2013 by three Ph.D. scientists from the University of South Carolina, IMCS now has 40 full-time employees, with 600 clients in every U.S. state and in 15 countries.
USC adds accolades for its medical school see more
The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia is the top medical program in the country for graduates who are practicing in areas where there is a shortage of health care professionals, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate School rankings.
The medical school’s distinction is part of the U.S. News rankings released March 30; the rankings show that UofSC is now home to more than 60 nationally ranked programs.
Among those is the International MBA program in the Darla Moore School of Business, which retained its No. 1 ranking for the eighth consecutive year.
“From meeting the health care needs of South Carolina’s underserved communities to preparing graduates to excel in careers in all corners of the world, these rankings demonstrate the work our faculty, staff and students do each day to improve the lives of people across the state, nation and world,” says William Tate, the university’s provost and executive vice president of academic affairs.
The School of Medicine’s No. 1 ranking fulfills the university’s mission by providing doctors for underserved areas, sometimes referred to as “medical deserts.”
The Columbia med school also ranks No. 45 for the number of doctors practicing in primary care specialties and No. 54 for graduates practicing direct patient care in rural areas. The School of Medicine is ranked No. 76 nationally in primary care, improving 14 spots from last year’s U.S. News rankings.
“We are proud to be producing graduates who are committed to providing exceptional patient care to underserved communities,” says Dr. Les Hall, dean of the UofSC School of Medicine Columbia. “Our school was established to create a pipeline of quality health care professionals for South Carolina. These rankings are a clear illustration that we are achieving that mission and more.”
The Moore School continued its reign as the highest ranked international business master’s program in the country. The International MBA has been ranked in the top three for 32 straight years.
The university’s ranked graduate and professional programs include diverse areas of study in the sciences, humanities, technology, engineering, health sciences, law and business.
Other highlights from the new rankings include:
- No. 7 for school library media.
- No. 9 for services for children and youth.
- No. 17 for library and information studies.
- No. 23 for criminology program.
- No. 25 for part-time MBA.
- No. 25 for nuclear engineering.
- No. 25 for speech language pathology.