10 SC schools get $20M for human tissue research

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COLUMBIA, S.C. - The National Science Foundation on Thursday awarded $20 million to a group of 10 South Carolina colleges and universities for human tissue research.

The grant, announced by researchers at the Statehouse and to be awarded over five years, is the largest competitive award the foundation has ever granted in South Carolina.

The work in the field of tissue fabrication could lead to the production of human organs.

The research consortium includes the state's major research institutions: Clemson, South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina.

The alliance also includes Claflin, South Carolina State and Vorhees as well as the University of South Carolina-Beaufort and Furman. Denmark Tech and Greenville Tech are also participating.

Dr. Roger Markwald of the Medical University of South Carolina is the lead scientist on the project.

"We're trying to build tissue and organs from the inside out, which is a different approach than anyone has taken," he said. "First we want to create a three-dimensional vascular tree and then the organ. This will allow us to develop the applications to build many different types of organs."

The award will be used to create a statewide tissue biofabrication center and recruit 22 faculty members for the project.

The money will also be used to create a database of vascular technology, establish academic-industrial collaborations and make use of the alliance's research in public schools across the state.

The project also envisions new graduate and postdoctoral programs as well as training opportunities for reporters and journalism students to allow in-depth scientific reporting.

"This is an opportunity to do groundbreaking research to help people here and around the world," said John Raymond, the vice president for academic affairs and provost at the Medical University of South Carolina.


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