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College of Nursing

Staying healthy is hard for patients with chronic conditions. A new center at USC is trying to help.

by Laura Kammerer
While working as a home health nurse as she pursued her master’s and doctoral degrees, Cindy Corbett saw first-hand how patients with chronic conditions struggled to manage their health.

Those experiences inspired her academic research career, and now with her appointment as the SmartState endowed chair in clinical effectiveness research and chronic care management at Carolina’s College of Nursing, Corbett has returned to her passion full-time and hopes to inspire others to tackle big issues in health care through research.

“I’m very excited to be at the University of South Carolina,” she said. “This is a unique opportunity to start a center and grow it from the ground up based on my research.”  

-Dr. Cindy Corbett, SmartState Endowed Chair

Corbett, a dynamic and accomplished researcher who most recently served as the associate dean of research at Washington State University College of Nursing, joined the college in August and has been working to launch the new Chronic Care Research Excellence Center to generate care innovations for patients with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, and advance student education and training in chronic conditions. This research area has great potential impact for the Palmetto state, home to a large population of patients with chronic conditions and a high incidence of stroke and deaths related to those conditions.

Since her arrival, Corbett has been meeting with various state health leaders to identify research partner opportunities. For instance, she’s talked with administrators at Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System to explore areas of collaboration with their population health projects and discussed research opportunities with Carolina Family Practice, the faculty-led nurse practitioner practice in downtown Columbia that serves 3,700 patients.

Corbett envisions the center being a bidirectional program where researchers could reach out to partners for help designing and implementing projects of interest and partners could likewise reach out to researchers to design and implement interventions that address their interests and needs.

In addition to considering research practice sites, she’s been meeting with faculty and administrators from across the university to learn about potential areas of collaboration with USC’s other health sciences schools, such as medicine, public health, social work and pharmacy.

“I really do believe that caring for people that have chronic conditions is a team effort and so is the research that goes into it,” she said. “You need an interprofessional team, including patients and their family members or caregivers, to figure out the best solutions moving forward in health care.”

Across the next year, she plans to build the center’s board of advisers and begin recruiting and hiring researchers and graduate students to generate research proposals.

Corbett’s past research has been funded by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ Research and Education Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institutes of Health and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.