Columbia’s new BullStreet District is slated to be the hottest new district for entertainment, business and living. But the district also marks a significant opportunity for life sciences growth in the state. The University of South Carolina is anchoring the transformational healthcare portion of the development with plans for their new 320,000-square-foot health sciences facility, which will sit on one corner of the BullStreet district.
The $300 million development will allow the university to combine a large portion of its health sciences education and research activities under one roof. “Our new health sciences campus will provide our students with a state-of-the-art learning facility that will ensure our graduates are best prepared to meet the healthcare needs of South Carolinians, while also leading the evolution in the healthcare industry” according to Dr. Julius Fridriksson, USC’s Vice President for Research. The health sciences campus initially will serve students and faculty from the School of Medicine, Arnold School of Public Health, and College of Pharmacy.
The facility will also help USC grow its efforts to attract world-class healthcare and research faculty and keep our state’s best students in the Palmetto State. “We expect recruiting competitiveness to increase for students and researchers alike. Our students will learn from the best of the best,” says Fridriksson. With more than 18,000 students enrolled in health science programs, USC continues to expand its role as the state’s Flagship for higher education.
Top programmatic priorities for the development are advanced wet labs as well as data science labs to harness the power of machine learning and AI. “Data is the new oil,” Fridriksson nods. Fridriksson and USC’s leadership team also expect that these labs will increase opportunities for corporate collaborations in the BullStreet district. Additionally, with the new facility in close proximity to Prisma Health, “We can expand our research to Phase 1, 2, and 3 clinical trials in the future,” Fridriksson envisions.
Along with increased partnerships and collaborations, Dr. Fridriksson sees the new health sciences campus as a tremendous value add for the entire state of South Carolina. “We want the university to be a force for good,” Fridriksson remarks.
And force for good, they will be. The new USC health sciences campus not only will prepare a talented health sciences workforce for years to come, but will also make strides in research and rural health care throughout the Palmetto State.
The new development is already seeing an influx of federal funding, which will help USC acquire state-of-the-art equipment to further their capabilities and reach. “A $15 million federal grant allowed us to purchase two new MRI scanners – the first of their kind in South Carolina: A 7 Tesla MRI scanner, which gives an incredibly detailed view of the human brain and a 3 Tesla MRI wide-board scanner, which helps scan patients of all sizes and those who are claustrophobic,” Fridriksson shares.
In addition to the new health sciences facility, USC is renovating an existing building to create a new Brain Health Center, which will house the new MRI scanners, and serve as the hub of the university’s statewide clinical and research efforts in brain health. The USC Brain Health Center, which will sit adjacent to the BullStreet site, is expected to be completed in 2025. The Brain Health Center will focus on clinical care and research support for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and other brain-related conditions. The hub also serves as the clinical hub for a series rural brain health clinics the University will open in rural communities in the months ahead.
Development of the health sciences campus is being led by Gilbane, a world-class design and construction team with a portfolio of health science and medical school developments, including the medical schools of UNC, Duke, Emory, and Baylor. “It was a highly competitive process,” Fridriksson remarks. “We are excited to have their experience and that of our entire development team to help us create the very best facilities for our students and faculty.”
At the core, that is what USC’s new health sciences facility and the BullStreet District is all about: Making life better for its residents and encouraging high-caliber researchers, students and educators to also make South Carolina their home.