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MUSC Excellence at the College of Medicine/UMA 

Dear Colleagues,
We are fortunate that our college has many things to celebrate as we usher in the new year. Many of the successes that we have already seen in our drive for excellence lie within the research arena. I would like to take a moment to celebrate a particular success story with you now.
When the Department of Neuro-sciences was formed in 2005 through the combination of two clinical and one basic science departments, it was undertaken with great hopes for synergy. Under the expert leadership of Drs. Kalivas and Patel, this innovative approach has garnered national attention for a variety of accomplishments, most notably for a remarkable leap in research productivity as was hoped. The department established a Translational Research Division under the supervision of Dr. Mintzer to facilitate bench-to-bedside research, spurring remarkable growth in translational neuroscience efforts through the development of multi-disciplinary teams of researchers from departments and centers across the College of Medicine.
At its inception, the Department of Neurosciences had about $500,000 in clinical trials, and today this is estimated to be at $8 million, with more than half of the funding from the NIH. This is a remarkable  success in a very short time! There is in addition approximately $10 million in NIH funding for preclinical neurosciences research (which constitutes a $2 million  increase during this time span).
At the time of the department’s creation, there were only nine viable clinical trials, and at present there are 48 active trials focused in the areas of neuro-oncology, Alzheimers disease, movement disorders, stroke, and epilepsy.
Further tangible evidence of neurosciences’ movement toward national recognition is the receipt of the first NIH funding for a methamphetamine research center by Dr. See, whose program is designed to discover and test new medications emerging from basic research for treating methamphetamine addiction. The methamphetamine center is in addition to two other NIH-funded centers in the department, one awarded to Dr. Granholm to elucidate the developmental biology of Parkinson’s disease, and the other to Dr. Kalivas to determine how the molecular changes wrought by addictive drugs can be used as pharmacotherapeutic targets for treating addictive disorders.
Dr. Frankel is directing exciting clinical trials using a novel stem cell-based therapy to suppress brain cancer that he discovered in his basic research laboratory. Dr. Aston-Jones has begun a research program to understand the basis of cognitive disorders and how to best develop new therapies for diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s, as well as cognitive impairments associated with stroke and other forms of brain damage.
The neurosciences research program has also been invigorated in the area of stroke by the recruitment of the nationally recognized stroke clinician scientists, Drs. Adams and Chimowitz.  Under their leadership, the department is establishing a telemedicine outreach infrastructure that will not only bring much needed emergency stroke care to rural communities in South Carolina, but will also serve as a platform for developing new medicines for treating stroke. 
The Department of Neurosciences is now ranked as the seventh largest in the country in terms of NIH funding. Importantly, this growth in research has actively involved mentoring young faculty and trainees in research careers. Of the 98 research awards funded last year, 17 were to assistant professors, and nine were to research preclinical and clinical trainees. 
Please join me in congratulating our colleagues in the Department of Neurosciences for their remarkable research achievements. Their accom-plishments inspire our entire college to actively build on our success throughout the coming year, as we make a collective resolution to ensure that excellence is not just an act, but a habit. 

Jerry Reves, M.D.
Dean, College of Medicine


Friday, Jan. 11, 2008
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