Review board approves new Centers of Economic Excellence

Staff Report
Published June 9, 2010

The review board that oversees the S.C. Centers of Economic Excellence program voted this week to approve the creation of three new centers.

The CoEE program helps the state’s three research universities, Medical University of South Carolina, University of South Carolina and Clemson University, create Centers of Economic Excellence, along with associated endowed professorships, in high-technology areas to enhance the state’s economy.

The Sustainable Development CoEE at Clemson will focus on creation of new technologies that help foster sustainable development, allowing South Carolina to better protect its natural resources and encourage smart growth.

The use of technology to reduce the negative impact of development on natural resources is a high-priority field of research for Clemson. The university has existing programs in restoration ecology, renewable energy, natural resources, sustainable design, land use planning, real estate development and watershed management. The CoEE in Sustainable Development will build on those strengths.

The Data Analysis, Simulation, Imaging and Visualization CoEE at USC will seek better ways to analyze, model and process large amounts of data to make it understandable and useable.

Although technology has made possible the collection of huge quantities of data, this data must be extracted, processed and interpreted to be useful. This issue touches nearly every scientific discipline, including engineering, chemistry, biology and medicine.

The CoEE of Inflammation and Fibrosis Research at MUSC will focus on development of new therapies for inflammatory and fibrosing conditions, which are a major cause of chronic illness in South Carolina and around the country.

Fibrosing conditions occur when organs or tissues develop excessive fibrous tissue, which can interfere with the normal function of the organ. Examples of diseases in which inflammation or fibrosis play a prominent role include lupus, cystic fibrosis and scleroderma.

The commercialization of treatments developed by the Inflammation and Fibrosis Research CoEE could lead to improved quality of life for people with debilitating chronic diseases.

The approval of these new centers means that research related to several emerging, high-tech, high-growth industries will now be conducted in South Carolina. The goal of this research is to generate well-paying jobs and economic opportunities in South Carolina.

Funding for the centers comes from S.C. Education Lottery proceeds.

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