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Office of Clinical Public Health

The Arnold School Office of Clinical Public Health is dedicated to advancing population health through the integration of public health with clinical medicine, nursing, pharmacy and other health related disciplines, notably as those disciplines are practiced within health systems.

The Office serves as a liaison for population health-related interactions between the Arnold School and the health colleges and health-related programs within the university and with health systems and health relevant organizations state-wide.  The Office also provides administrative oversight of the new satellite campus of the Arnold School that is in development and that will be co-located with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine at Greenville and the Greenville Health System (GHS) on the GHS Grove Road campus. 

Services and Resources

University Research Partners

The Office of Clinical Public Health seeks to partner with a number of colleges, centers and institutes at the University of South Carolina in the pursuit of clinically-driven health research. The Office is available to provide liaison between Arnold School faculty and faculty in health-relevant units within the university to foster and otherwise advance collaborative, inter-disciplinary research relevant to clinical public health.

Arnold School Satellite Campus - Greenville

The Office of Clinical Public Health provides administrative oversight of the satellite campus being developed in Greenville, SC.  A concept long envisioned by the University of South Carolina leadership, an Arnold School campus located in northwest South Carolina became a reality in December, 2015 when the Board of Trustees approved its establishment.  In January of 2016, Dr. Thomas Chandler, Dean of the Arnold School, appointed Dr. Ronnie D. Horner, director of the Institute for the Advancement of Healthcare, as associate dean for clinical public health and charged him with responsibility for developing the Greenville campus.  

Faculty at the Greenville campus are dedicated to advancing population health through a robust portfolio of health systems-driven research, and a vibrant teaching portfolio of degree programs relevant to population health within the health system context.  Current faculty are actively involved in existing degree programs within the Arnold School such as the Master of Public Health Degree program in public health management.  New degree programs relevant to the mission of the Office are in planning.  Their research is currently largely observational in nature, addressing current challenges experienced by clinicians and health systems in providing effective and efficient health care.

Over the next 5 years, the satellite campus will build toward a faculty of 10 full-time, tenure track.   Currently, career opportunities at this new campus are available in biostatistics, epidemiology and health behavioral sciences.  Ideal candidates will have experience in conducting research within health systems or the clinical practice environment and have career research interests in advancing the health and healthcare.

Institute for the Advancement of Healthcare

The Institute for the Advancement of Healthcare is a partnership between the Greenville Health System and the University of South Carolina for the purpose of fostering research collaborations between the two faculties.  Sister Institutes are found at Clemson University and Furman University. 

As the liaison organization, the Institute identifies expertise at the university relevant to addressing a research issue identified by the health system.  Alternatively, the Institute works with faculty members at the university who have a research idea that they wish to discuss with the Greenville Health System.  Priority for collaborations is given to research that addresses a clinically-driven or health system-driven problem, and that has high likelihood of generating an effective solution that is feasible and sustainable and can be implemented in the near-term. 

The Institute funds pilot projects on a case-by-case basis with priority given to projects that meet the priority criteria above as well as have a GHS collaborator and have high likelihood of receiving external, competitive funding based on the preliminary evidence generated by the study. Pilot funding is typically in the range of $20,000 to $25,000 and often has matching funds from the Greenville Health System.   

At this time, the Institute is expanding its liaison function to other health systems within the State of South Carolina. 

Services and Resources

Liaison with South Carolina-based Health Systems

The Institute is a first point of contact for Arnold School faculty who seek to conduct research with the Greenville Health System and its affiliated organizations such as the Care Coordination Institute.  The Institute also is pro-active in contacting Arnold School faculty regarding potential research projects of interest to the Greenville Health System for which their research expertise is relevant.

Pilot Research

Historically, the Institute funds pilot research that directly addresses health care or healthcare delivery challenges within the Greenville Health System and involves its clinical investigators.  In some cases, support for the project has been from GHS either alone or jointly with Institute funding.  Projects need to be focused on generating evidence for interventions or solutions to the health care issue being addressed where the interventions are effective, fiscally and operationally feasible to implement in the near-term, and sustainable within the health system.  Projects involving emerging or innovative methods in health services research, including methods adopted from other disciplines, are given preference.  Currently, highest priority is assigned to such projects that are directed toward advancement of precision medicine and that have high likelihood of leading to additional external funding based on the pilot study findings.   Typically, funding is in the range of $20,000 to $25,000 with projects receiving matching funding from GHS given greatest consideration.  Proposed projects undergo peer-review to determine scientific merit.   For investigators with project ideas, the first step is to discuss the proposed project with the Associate Dean for Clinical Public Health.  Projects of interest will, then be discussed with appropriate investigators at GHS and, if approved in concept, may be developed into full applications for possible funding.  Unlike the traditional, investigator-initiated approach to research, the process is highly intentional to ensure that findings will have a more direct and immediate impact on health care content or its delivery.

The following are representative of pilot studies that have been funded to-date:

  • Clinical Work Intensity among Medical Oncologists [Co-Principal Investigators: Mark O'Rourke, MD (GHS, Cancer Center) and Ronnie D. Horner, PhD (USC, Health Services Policy & Management)].

The project was supported by funding from the Greenville Health System with in-kind support from the Institute. Recently completed, the project proved the feasibility of measuring provider work intensity in the community-based practice setting and in identifying practice organization and management factors that heighten or dampen intensity.  By modifying the practice environment, work intensity may be optimize and, thereby, optimize quality of care, patient safety, and patient health outcomes associated with therapy. A larger study is being planned to provide a national perspective.

  • Biomarkers of Adverse Reaction to Surgical Mesh [Co-Principal Investigators: Melissa Moss, PhD (USC, Biomedical engineering) and Matthew Hermes, PhD (Clemson University, Biomedical engineering)].

This project is supported by funding from the Institute for the Advancement of Health Care.  Working with surgeons at GHS, the investigators are determining if there biomarkers of adverse reaction to polypropylene surgical mesh, which is currently used in hernia repair.  Its previous use in repair of vaginal conditions was associated with an unexpectedly high rate of adverse reactions that led surgeons to cease its use for these procedures.  The goal of the project is a diagnostic test by which to identify patients with high likelihood of experiencing an adverse reaction to polypropylene meshes (or other meshes of different composition). This will allow surgeons to select a mesh which is safest for the patient.    

  • Anxiety and other comorbid psychiatric conditions in Autism Spectrum Disorders [Co-Principal Investigators: Jane Roberts, PhD (USC, Psychology) and Desmond Kelly MD and Anne Kinsman, PhD (GHS, Pediatrics)].

This project is jointly supported by funding from Greenville Health System and the Institute for the Advancement of Healthcare. Led by USC faculty member, Dr. Roberts who is an expert in fragile X syndrome, the project has dual goals of building research capacity in the clinical department of Pediatrics at GHS and adding new knowledge about the co-occurrence of anxiety and other such conditions among children with autism spectrum disorders.  The topic of co-morbidity is of high interest because of the implications for therapeutic approach.  The project is a prelude to further studies centered on earlier diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and treatment that may yield greater therapeutic success.

  • Mindfulness Intervention to Improve Symptomology among Cancer Survivors; Focus on Sleep and Stress Improvement: Michael Wirth, PhD (USC, Cancer Control Program and Epidemiology), Mark O'Rourke, MD (GHS Cancer Center) and Sarah Wagner-Robb, PhD (Georgia State University, Epidemiology)].

This project is supported by funding from Greenville Health System through the Transformation Research Seed Grant program and the Institute for the Advancement of Healthcare. The project is assessing the effectiveness of mindfulness – a complementary-alternative medicine therapy – on sleep improvement and stress reduction among breast cancer survivors.  Data from the project will be used to develop a grant application for a larger trial of improved patient outcomes associated with mindfulness.

A number of studies are in development including a study of "no-shows" in family practice clinics that involves the use of segmentation analysis and potentially cognitive computing, and a study into effective partnering between health systems and community-based organizations to achieve mutually shared goals.