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SC BioCRAFT Granted Phase 3 Funding for Biomedical Research

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October 29, 2019

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences is granting $5.7 million to a statewide team of researchers at the South Carolina Bioengineering Center for Regeneration and Formation of Tissues, or SC BioCRAFT. The group is currently developing new treatments for a range of illnesses from diabetes to heart disease.

The latest round of funding will allow the biomedical research center, based at Clemson University, to improve the field of regenerative medicine through the advancement of tissue-regeneration research, new faculty recruitment, and continued growth of the connections established over the past decade. Past collaborations include researchers, clinicians, and other health care professionals across the state, as well as colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina and Prisma Health. Researchers are also planning to use the grant for statewide educational programs and a voucher program that will help provide seed funding for new research projects. One of the center’s primary objectives is to increase the number of SC biomedical researchers who receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Roger Markwald, an MUSC professor and co-principal investigator on the grant that funds the center, believes that the funding reaffirms that SC BioCRAFT is succeeding in its mission. “This collaborative center is helping improve patient care while enhancing biomedical research in South Carolina and encouraging investment in the biomedical industry,” said Markwald. “At the end of the day, patients and the state as a whole benefit most.”

SC BioCRAFT was the first of three Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence at the university. It began operating in 2009 under the direction of Naren Vyavahare, the Hunter Endowed Chair of Bioengineering at Clemson. “It feels good to know that we have junior faculty who have been so successful and have their own independent labs because of this center,” Vyavahare said. “SC BioCRAFT is playing a key role in building the biomedical research infrastructure in South Carolina.” During its first decade, the center has matched experienced mentors with 23 early-career researchers who have generated over $35 million for research on a wide range of biomedical challenges, including spinal cord injuries and grafting methodology. Researchers with the center have been awarded 24 patents, started up four companies, and published 304 peer-reviewed articles.

The program endowing the collaborative center is aimed at establishing Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence in 23 states and Puerto Rico through three phases of competitive funding. Previously, the Center received $9.3 million in 2009 for its first phase and $11 million in 2014 for its second phase. The latest grant will give SC BioCRAFT’s core facilities the opportunity to shift from federal funding to a fee-based system. Last year, an $11 million endowment was provided to the South Carolina Center for Translational Research Improving Musculoskeletal Health, or SC-TRIMH, a new research center that will connect South Carolina scientists to change the way musculoskeletal disorders are diagnosed, treated, and studied. COBRE granted the Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center, or EPIC, $10.5 million in 2016. Since then, investigators at EPIC have been awarded over $4.5 million in external funding and produced 35 publications.

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