Now that the Fall Semester is well underway, it is a busy time at the Medical University. In the midst of all of the exciting and important things happening here, I wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect with you on a very significant development happening this week. As you may know, the newest additions to our campus – the Drug Discovery Building and the Bioengineering Building - will be dedicated on Friday. It is hard to believe that not much more than two years ago, the site of these state-of-the-art facilities was an asphalt-paved parking lot. Needless to say, we have come a long way in a couple of years.
The truth of the matter is that this journey started much further back in time. The origins of these two buildings can be traced to the creation of the SmartState Centers of Economic Excellence endowed chairs program which was established by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2003. At least eight of the 20 endowed chairs who were recruited to the Medical University since then will occupy laboratories located in the new buildings. The funds to build these facilities also were made possible in part by the General Assembly when, in 2004, they passed the Research University Infrastructure Act legislation. By matching this state investment with other sources of funding, particularly federal awards, we were able to plan, design and construct these facilities.
The thematic foci of drug discovery and bioengineering were chosen to embrace emerging strengths on this campus and to pursue opportunities in which we believe that the Medical University can make important contributions. One such opportunity is in cancer diagnosis and treatment. The Hollings Cancer Center, which received official designation from the National Cancer Institute in 2009, will lead major, interdisciplinary and intercollege programs in the new buildings including Cancer Prevention & Control, Prostate Cancer Disparities, genomics and drug discovery.
The areas of research emphasis also are consonant with the broad goals of the South Carolina Clinical and Translation Research (SCTR) Institute, supported by a major grant from the National Institutes of Health. SCTR, which was funded three years ago, is dedicated to translating discoveries from our research into use for the benefit of patients and communities. Similarly, our strategic plan emphasizes entrepreneurial activity and the development, testing and implementation of innovative technologies. Both SCTR and the strategic plan will be given a new sense of commitment and purpose through the work that is undertaken in these two research buildings.
Our educational mission also will be enhanced in these facilities, with new lecture halls to be used for medical and pharmacy student education, a new home for the College of Graduate Studies, and community pharmacy teaching laboratories. These buildings are equipped with state-of-the-art educational technology to assure that our students have access to the most innovative ways of learning.
A very important feature of these buildings is that they are designed to meet an additional aspect of our strategic plan – the promotion of interprofessional collaboration. Scientists and engineers from across a wide range of disciplines will work side by side, helping to bring creative and innovative solutions to complex problems. In addition to bringing together faculty and students from at least three of our colleges, the new buildings also will house colleagues from our bioengineering alliance with Clemson, as well as pharmacy and regenerative medicine scientists from USC providing an unprecedented opportunity for interprofessional collaboration.
This research and educational complex is being named in honor of Congressman James E. Clyburn in acknowledgment and recognition of his longstanding leadership, dedication, and passion for improving health in South Carolina and the nation, and for his support of the Medical University.
It is impossible in this short space to personally acknowledge all of the hundreds of people who have helped to make these buildings possible, but I thank them individually and collectively for their dedication and hard work. As these buildings will be so central to our future, we hope that everyone associated with the University will take pride in these latest additions to campus. All faculty, staff and students are welcome to tour the buildings during an Open House to be held on Monday, October 24 from 4 to 5 PM.
I also encourage everyone to visit the website dedicated to the complex: http://www.musc.edu/clyburn_research_center.
At this defining moment in the development of the MUSC, I send each of you my heartfelt thanks for all that you are doing for the Medical University and for the people of our state.
Ray Greenberg, MD, PhD