Centers of Economic Excellence

September 2009 Program Update

New Center of Economic Excellence will address chronic health problems

The CoEE Review Board has approved a new Center of Economic Excellence that will develop technology, such as interactive, web-based coaching programs, to help people make healthier lifestyle choices and delay or prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

The Technology Center to Enhance Healthful Lifestyles is a partnership between the University of South Carolina and theMedical University of South Carolina. The review board approved $3 million in funds for the center. Health Sciences South Carolina is providing a portion of the private funds to help match the state’s investment.

Center researchers will develop new technologies for improving health, preventing illness, and successfully managing chronic health problems. In particular, they will develop interactive tools that can reach all segments of society and reduce health disparities.

Two world-class scientists, known as CoEE endowed chairs, will be recruited to lead the center. USC will recruit an endowed chair to focus on technology applications for changing health behavior. MUSC will recruit a chair to focus on technology applications to prevent and manage disease and reduce risk.

The center’s work could help the state become a national leader in an emerging high-growth field and result in marketable products such as new communications technologies and applications for individuals, worksites, health professionals, and health systems. Products could include software and information systems for cell phones, iPod technologies, and computerized kiosks. The center could help attract new software development, lifestyle coaching, and computer hardware companies to the state and result in start-up companies based on South Carolina discoveries. These companies could result in hundreds of new, high-paying jobs in the state in the next decade.


 Smith & Nephew invests $5M in CoEE Program

A global medical technology company has announced a $5 million investment in a new partnership with USC to fund the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Sciences Center of Economic Excellence.

The center will bring together USC, the Orthopedic Research Foundation of the Carolinas (ORFC), and the Biologics & Spine division of Smith & Nephew to research and develop cutting-edge orthopedic therapies and technologies. Specifically, the center will conduct research in tissue-engineered materials and implantable devices that can be used to rehabilitate or reconstruct damaged joints caused by orthopedic disorders and exercise- and sports-related injuries.

Clinical translation will also be a focus of this center, with USC, ORFC, and Smith & Nephew evaluating the performance of new products and approaches in a clinical setting to see how they affect patients’ productivity and quality of life.

Smith & Nephew Biologics & Spine is based in Raleigh-Durham, NC. The Orthopedic Research Foundation of the Carolinas, based in Spartanburg, is a non-profit foundation working with orthopedic clinics including Steadman Hawkins.


First CoEE Council of Chairs event planned for October

South Carolina’s CoEE Endowed Chairs will be meeting on October 30 in Columbia for the first-ever Council of Chairs conference. The Endowed Chairs include some of the world’s top scientists and engineers who have been recruited to South Carolina through the state’s CoEE Program.

At the event, the chairs and CoEE Review Board members will work together to enhance collaboration among the chairs and identify strategic actions to support the state’s science base, economy, quality of life and national visibility. 

The afternoon sessions, which begin at 1 p.m. in the Russell House Theater on USC’s campus, are open to the public. These sessions will include a Science and Economy Forum that will address how the CoEE Program can impact research, education, and economic development across the state, as well as a showcase of the scope and impacts of the CoEE Program.

There is no cost to attend the event and no pre-registration is required. For more information please contact Clare Morris at

Many thanks to SC Biz News, media sponsor for the event.


CoEE Program helps MUSC, research universities obtain major federal grants

Earlier this summer, MUSC announced that it had received two significant research awards, each worth a total of $20 million.

In an interview with the Charleston Post and Courier, MUSC President Ray Greenberg credited the awards to the General Assembly for creating the lottery-funded CoEE Program, which is enabling the universities to create cutting-edge research centers and attract top scientists and engineers from around the world.

The first grant is a Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health. This CTSA grant allows MUSC to join a national network of academic medical research institutions working to reduce the time it takes to turn laboratory discoveries into patient treatments, to engage communities in clinical research efforts, and to train the next generation of researchers. MUSC leaders believe the grant will improve the quality of health care delivered in the state, improve the health of citizens and ultimately create high-paying jobs.

The second grant, from the National Science Foundation (NSF), is the largest single competitive NSF award in South Carolina history. It enables the establishment of a statewide alliance in the field of tissue biofabrication, which could lead to the development of donor organs. The effort has been dubbed “The South Carolina Project,” and MUSC will serve as the lead institution, working with partners Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and eight other colleges and universities across South Carolina as well as South Carolina Research Authority.

Greenberg believes the NSF grant could lead to the development of marketable technology, potentially resulting in high-paying jobs, new companies, and growth of South Carolina’s knowledge-based economy.


Center spotlight: SeniorSMART™ CoEE at USC

Helping Older Adults Remain Independent

The SeniorSMART™ CoEE focuses on research to develop products and programs that preserve the well-being and independence of older adults, helping them delay or avoid the need to enter a nursing home.


The center is based at USC, with Clemson as a collaborating partner.

The SeniorSMART™ CoEE focuses its work on areas relevant to the aging mind and body, such as ways to maintain a healthy brain, improve physical mobility and driving ability, and design or retrofit homes to suit the needs of older adults.

The center is working on programs and innovations that could become marketable products. Examples include health sensors, such as blood pressure cuffs or weight scales that could send information to family members or caregivers via Bluetooth technology; fall sensors to detect falls immediately after they occur;mobility clinics to provide therapy and interventions to keep older adults physically functioning and mobile; motion detectors to alert caregivers if an older adult has not risen out of bed by a specific time; a driver screening program that would certify a senior as a "safe driver," and intelligence software that can detect a decline from normal activity levels in a home and send an alert.


Regenerative Medicine startup moves to Phase II testing

A startup company based on the research of MUSC’s Regenerative Medicine CoEE will soon begin Phase II clinical testing for its lead commercial product. FirstString, based in Charleston, will be testing a topical gel that can keep the body from scarring and promotes damaged tissue to regenerate.

The gel can be used to address scarring on the surface of the skin, but also on more serious internal scarring. The gel has the potential to help an amazing array of patients—from those with minor skin abrasions to those recovering from major surgery.

By preventing the formation of surgical adhesions—bands of internal scar tissue that can form between organs and other tissue after surgery—FirstString’s gel could avert many adhesion-related complications that often require further surgery. Heart attack patients, knee and hip implant recipients, and those suffering from age-related macular degeneration are just a few examples of people who could benefit from the gel.

The company has already completed Phase I trials, which assess the safety of a new drug. Phase II trials, which assess a drug’s effectiveness, should begin in the fourth quarter of 2009 or early 2010.


Investor spotlight: Fluor Corporation

In 2007, Fluor Corporation, a global engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance, and project management firm, invested $2 million in the CoEE Program, creating an endowed chair position for the CoEE in Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics at Clemson. Clemson is currently recruiting candidates to be considered for appointment to the position.

Recently, Fluor’s Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer Jim Scotti answered a few questions about the reasons Fluor chose to invest in the CoEE program.

Why did Fluor invest in the CoEE Program?


Scotti: We are always looking for ways to take supply chain and logistics management to the next level . . . . When the opportunity arose to support the development of a center that would include education, research, and industry outreach, along with an endowed chairall with emphasis and focus on our industry’s specific needs and interests—it was very appealing.

The opportunity to leverage our contribution with matching funds from the State of South Carolina made this an even more compelling opportunity.


How is Fluor benefiting from its investment in CoEE and what do you expect the long-term results to be?


Scotti: Without question, the partnership we have achieved with [Clemson’s] Department of Industrial Engineering has created newfound opportunities that neither Fluor nor Clemson could have otherwise identified. Specifically, the educational element of the CoEE has facilitated the development of a unique Master of Engineering (MEng) degree in Capital Projects Supply Chain and Logistics.

This is a cooperative effort involving industrial engineering, civil engineering, management, and the graduate school. In a remarkably short time, we were able to progress from a vague concept to actually launching the first class in the fall of 2008 with over 40 students.

We are confident that as the graduates of the MEng program begin to apply their newfound learning, skills, and tools to our project execution processes, it will beneficially transform and advance our current supply chain and logistics practices.

We also hope that Fluor and other industry interests will be able to take advantage of the tangible research opportunities available through the center . . . . We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the CoEE Program.

Op-ed: S.C.'s future demands more investment in higher education

From the July 25 edition of the Charleston Post and Courier:

By Daniel Ravenel

If I told you that there is a company in South Carolina with common stock for which you could receive an 11 to one return on your investment and it would improve the economy, enhance life and cut the cost of government, wouldn't you take advantage of the opportunity?

Click here to read more.


MidlandsBiz "conversation" with Endowed Chair Jay Moskowitz

MidlandsBiz recently featured a Q&A with CoEE Endowed Chair (and President of Health Sciences South Carolina) Jay Moskowitz as part of its “Conversations” series.

Moskowitz is an endowed chair for the CoEE in Healthcare Quality at USC.

Here’s an excerpt:


What is your mission?

Jay Moskowitz:
Our mission is to improve the physical, mental and economic health of the citizens of South Carolina. In order to do this, we plan to leverage the fruits of biomedical research, be it new diagnostics, treatments, prevention technologies or delivery systems, in order to move South Carolina's public health from the lowest quartile of the 50 states to the upper levels in terms of health-related metrics in addition to the creation of new, high paying jobs. 


How do you accomplish that?

Jay Moskowitz:
HSSC is unique in the nation in that it combines the state's three research-intensive universities—Clemson, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina— with the state's largest health systems—Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, Palmetto Health and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System—to create a statewide biomedical research collaborative. The collaborative builds upon the COEE program, establishing an even more powerful engine for research that attracts talented people and economic investment to South Carolina . . .

Click here to read the full article.

Who we are

The S.C. Centers of Economic Excellence Program was established by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2002, funded through South Carolina Education Lottery proceeds. The legislation authorizes the state's three public research institutions, Medical University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and the University of South Carolina, to use state funds to create Centers of Economic Excellence in research areas that will advance South Carolina's economy. Each Center of Economic Excellence is awarded from $2 million to $5 million in state funds, which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with non-state funds. The program also supports CoEE endowed chairs, world-renowned scientists who lead the Centers of Economic Excellence. By investing in talent and technology, the CoEE Program is designed to fuel the state's knowledge-based economy, resulting in high-paying jobs and an improved standard of living in South Carolina.

For more information on the CoEE Program, visit