South Carolina receives $16 million to improve biomedical research

Charleston Regional Business Journal
December 1, 2010

Ten South Carolina colleges and universities, including the University of South Carolina, have received $16 million to support a network to develop biomedical-research programs in areas such as regenerative medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology.

The funding comes from the National Center for Research Resources, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The grant will provide five years of funding for SC INBRE, or the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence. This is a network of academic institutions working together to enhance biomedical-research infrastructure and increase competitiveness of researchers in the state. It is the continuation of a $17 million grant received five years ago.

The network comprises the state’s three comprehensive research institutions, USC, Clemson and the Medical University of South Carolina, and seven predominantly undergraduate institutions, Claflin University, the College of Charleston, Francis Marion University, Furman University, S.C. State University, USC-Beaufort and Winthrop University.

“The key to this is developing a research environment and growing research at undergraduate institutions in order to provide research training for students in biomedical science,” said Dr. Lucia Pirisi-Creek of USC’s School of Medicine, the grant’s lead investigator.

SC INBRE will support at least 28 different research projects, each led by a junior “target” faculty member at one of the network institutions. During the five years of funding, six institutions will hire 10 new faculty members who will bring new biomedical research expertise to the state.

Projects include the investigation of nanoparticles that may improve treatment of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, stroke or brain cancer; the role of plaque in weakened arteries and how it leads to heart attacks and stroke; and the study of dysfunctional cells in the most prevalent form of epilepsy.

SC INBRE “target” faculty will receive financial support for their research programs and work with senior faculty mentors across the network who help the faculty develop both their research programs and their academic careers.

Participating undergraduate and graduate students work with faculty mentors who guide the development of these students’ research projects and advise the students on graduate school and scientific career options.

SC INBRE also will help renovate biomedical-engineering research labs for students and faculty at USC’s College of Engineering and Computing.

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