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MUSC Excellence at the College of
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
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
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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