MUSC The Catalyst
MUSC arial view


MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants Catalyst PDF File MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause

MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Finding resources, fostering a supportive environment

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
Medical research universities have many important roles to include developing new technologies and innovations delivering these advances to biomedical applications. During the past decade, MUSC has achieved national prominence as a biomedical research institution and has played an increasingly important role in improving health care across the state.

To realize MUSC’s potential to improve quality of life by all measures, MUSC needs to provide an environment that promotes the application, development and transfer of technology; fosters and rewards innovation; and responds to emerging priorities to advance health care, education and research, according to the 2010 Strategic Plan’s technology/innovation planning committee.

Recognizing the importance of research discovery and application, technology/innovation was identified as one of the four core themes for the new five-year MUSC Strategic Plan. In January, a committee composed of 16 MUSC faculty members and staff involved in various aspects of research across the campus was formed to develop a framework for enabling technology and innovation at MUSC. The group was led by Richard Swaja, Ph.D., professor and South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair of Regenerative Medicine.

“MUSC’s new strategic plan provides a basis for future decisions and directions aimed at meeting the university’s three mission components of health care, education, and research,” said Swaja.
Among the group’s initial priorities was to define innovation and technology as applied to a medical research environment. According to Swaja, innovation was defined as discovery put to use, and technology was considered to be the enabling factors for research and implementation.

Technology/innovation committee objectives
  • Maximize the use of resources and technologies to advance health care, education and research at MUSC and throughout South Carolina
  • Create and nurture an environment that fosters innovation
  • Accelerate and capitalize the transfer of new technologies and research advances
  • Identify and sustain new revenue streams that adapt to changing biomedical economic environments
The committee emphasized the importance of recognizing both existing and new technologies needed by researchers, educators, and clinicians to do their work. To consider and implement new technologies, they recommended the establishment of a trans-college committee to evaluate, communicate, recommend, and provide related training. The committee also suggested two areas for technology development that transcend almost all research programs at MUSC—biomedical imaging and computer technology.     

MUSC’s Department of Radiology has established a Center for Biomedical Imaging which will coalesce and develop campuswide imaging resources for broad use. Upgraded and faster computer resources need to be considered for biomedical informatics, modeling and simulation, data analysis, and telemedicine applications. According to Swaja, “Improvements in these areas will enhance MUSC’s research, education, and health care capabilities and provide new program opportunities.”

For innovation and technology transfer, the group recognized the importance of a work environment that supports, encourages, and rewards efforts in these areas. “We need to foster innovation and accelerate the transfer of research advances to the patient community to maximize the benefits of our work,” said Swaja. “We also need to communicate our advances at national and global levels to enhance our visibility and impact.”

Other efforts such as MUSC’s Drug Discovery and Bioengineering Building projects will provide dedicated, world-class resources to support research and innovation related to drug discovery and regenerative medicine. These buildings will facilitate biomedical collaborations with the other graduate research universities across the state—Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.

To address challenges with funding, the planning committee suggests that new revenue funding streams need to be identified and pursued. They recommend that the university consider agreements with national industrial communities, local businesses, and community and university organizations to provide business support and contacts for research entrepreneurs.

Despite the challenging economic and political times, MUSC is moving forward with programs and infrastructure development. The university is poised to move to the “next level” of national prominence and leadership, according to Swaja.

Swaja and his technology/innovation committee’s recommendations were submitted with others to the MUSC strategic planning steering committee. He is working with a new operational group for his area to plan how the institution will implement the recommendations.

The complete 2010 Strategic Plan was approved by the president and MUSC board of trustees in August. Since then, a campuswide implementation and oversight committee was established to execute the plan. This group is tasked to evaluate and monitor the progress of the plan’s objectives. Operational groups for the other three core initiatives also have been established. Each group’s progress will be measured annually.

For information on the 2010 - 2015 Strategic Plan, visit

Friday, Oct. 29, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.