University of South Carolina

NSF announces $20 million research award to state

The National Science Foundation on Thursday (July 23) awarded $20 million to 10 S.C. colleges and universities to establish a statewide alliance in the field of tissue biofabrication, a pioneering research field that could lead to the production of human organs.

The University of South Carolina will join the Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson University in the alliance, which will include the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, Furman University, Denmark Technical College, Greenville Technical College and three of the state’s historically black colleges and universities, Claflin University, S.C. State University and Voorhees College. The S.C. Research Authority is the fiscal agent of the award.

In announcing the award, Dr. W. Lance Haworth, director of the Office of Integrative Activities at NSF said, “I am delighted to announce this award from NSF to accelerate research and education and to expand collaborations among the constellation of South Carolina colleges and universities represented here today. This five-year award combines world class science with expertise from medicine to engineering to computer science to mathematics to journalism.”

The University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus will receive approximately $5 million to enhance its emerging biomedical research program. The award will fund the hiring of nine new faculty in biomathematics and bioengineering and the establishment of laboratories to support their research.

“This award has the potential to significantly advance scientific research in the Palmetto State and improve the lives of people here and around the nation,” said university President Harris Pastides, “The University of South Carolina will use this award to attract top scientists who will develop research programs that will lead to discovery and impact the economic development of our state and nation.”

The university’s Beaufort campus will use the award to enhance its research infrastructure and expand research opportunities in computational science.

USCB Chancellor Jane T. Upshaw said. “Our computational science undergraduate degree program will place USCB students on the cutting edge of sciences and mathematics for the future. Our students, our faculty, our region and the state will be the beneficiary.”

The award brings together multiple expertise and talent from across South Carolina and is a true collaborative effort with tremendous scientific rigor, said Dr. Jerry Odom, principal investigator for the award.

“This holds the promise of raising South Carolina to national prominence in the field of human tissue biofabrication,” said Odom, who is the executive director of the University of South Carolina Foundations.

Dr. Roger Markwald of MUSC, the lead scientist for the project, said the research program will seek to “build tissue and organs from the inside out, which is a different approach than anyone has taken.”

“First, we want to create a three-dimensional vascular tree and then the organ,” he said. “This will allow us to develop the applications to build many different types of organs.”

The award provides for the following:

  • Expansion of a current Medical University of South Carolina bioprinting program into a statewide Advanced Tissue Biofabrication center 
  • Recruitment of 22 new faculty with expertise not currently available in South Carolina
  • Creation of a global e-community to facilitate the development of sophisticated databases in vascular technology
  • Establishment of national and international academic industrial collaborations and the integration of statewide initiatives for workforce development, education and communication to the general public
  • Integration of the alliance’s research with K-12 education to build South Carolina’s future high-tech workforce.

Educational innovations include development of e-textbooks and new curricula. New graduate degree programs and postdoctoral and graduate research training are planned across the state. Training opportunities for South Carolina’s reporters and journalism students will enable in-depth reporting of scientific achievements and will enhance science literacy statewide.

The NSF award will connect regional, national and international cyber-networks and support collaborative e-communities for education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Other activities will bridge South Carolina’s minority-serving programs and integrate with the science, education, communication and sustainability plans of the project.

Dr. John Raymond, chair of the S.C. EPSCoR/IDeA Committee and MUSC’s vice president for academic affairs and provost, said, “This is an opportunity to do groundbreaking research to help people here and around the world.”

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) are federal-state-university partnerships designed to increase research capacity and competitiveness for federal R&D funds.

South Carolina EPSCoR/IDeA leverages federal resources with support from the SC General Assembly to build research infrastructure; infuse research into education; provide opportunities for diverse groups of institutions, students, faculty and disciplines in science and technology; and increase collaboration among key stakeholders of the state’s science and technology enterprise. Since 1990, SC EPSCoR/IDeA funds have enabled the hire of 95 junior, tenure-track faculty members in science and technology at five South Carolina colleges and universities.

SC EPSCoR/IDeA has supported research in disciplines such as biomedical engineering; neuroscience; alternative energy; nanomaterials; structural, chemical, and cellular biology; and environmental science bringing more than $185 million in federal research funding to the state.

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$20 million NSF award

  • Award recipients:University of South Carolina (Columbia and Beaufort campuses), MUSC, Clemson, Furman, Denmark Technical College, Greenville Technical College, Claflin, S.C. State and Voorhees.
  • Award focus: Tissue biofabrication.
  • The university's share: Columbia campus to enhance emerging biomedical research program; Beaufort campus to enhance research infrastructure and expand research opportunities in computational science.

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 07/23/09 @ 9:00 AM | Updated: 08/12/09 @ 5:41 PM | Permalink