Center to bring new materials, procedures to the marketplace
July 15, 2009
Arnold School researchers will have a key role in evaluating orthopedic materials and procedures developed by a new $10 million Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Sciences Center at the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center.
The center was announced at press conferences Tuesday in Greenville and Columbia. It is being created by a $5 million matching grant to the University of South Carolina by Smith & Nephew Biologics & Spine, a subsidiary of Smith & Nephew Inc. of the United Kingdom.
Smith & Nephew is a 150-year old company that makes medical devices like joint replacement systems, endoscopies to be used for joint surgeries and gels, films and foams to help treat hard-to-heal wounds.
The company’s $5 million gift matches $5 million appropriated to the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Sciences Center through the S.C. Centers of Economic Excellence program in 2007.
The center, to be located on the Greenville medical center’ Patewood campus, will support a collaboration of Upstate orthopedists, scientists and engineers from industry and USC to study prevention and treatment of orthopedic injuries and disorders.
“This collaboration draws on the expertise of world-class academic, clinical and commercial partners to research and develop advanced new technologies that will help future generations of patients, in South Carolina and around the world, to continue living full and active lives,” said Ken Reali, senior vice president and general manager of Smith & Nephew Biologics & Spine.
Representatives of Smith & Nephew Biologics & Spine, based in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; the Steadman Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas; the Orthopaedic Research Foundation of the Carolinas, a nonprofit foundation working with orthopedic clinics including Steadman Hawkins; and USC leaders announced the Smith & Nephew investment.
USC President Harris Pastides said researchers at the College of Engineering and Computing and the Arnold School will participate in the research.
“Researchers from many disciplines will work individually and together to develop new procedures and materials that will change the scope of health care in the 21st century,” Pastides said. “Through spin-offs and the creation of new jobs and intellectual property, this center will impact not just physical health, but also the economic health of our state.”
Dr. Mike Matthews, the principal investigator for the center and chair of the department of chemical engineering in the university’s College of Engineering and Computing, said the collaboration creates infrastructure to translate science into solutions to improve patient care.
Plans call for the center to accelerate the transfer of innovative therapies from the Smith & Nephew laboratories to the marketplace. USC researchers, working with ORFC staff and orthopedic physicians, will expedite the process of converting research into intellectual property and licensing, officials said.
Researchers from the Arnold School’s nationally ranked Department of Exercise Science and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics will bring their expertise to bear on the impact of technologies emerging from the center.
“Our interest is in the technology’s impact on broader social issues such as the cost of health care, quality of life and how it enhances productivity. These evaluations are gong to be a critical component in looking at developments that come out of this center,” said Dr. Robert McKeown, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
Pastides said that with all of the funding in place for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Sciences Center, the university will begin to recruit a world-class researcher to lead the center and to hold the CoEE Endowed Chair in Reconstructive Methodologies and Materials.
Dr. Richard Hawkins, OFRC chairman and founder of the Steadman Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas and a leading orthopedic surgeon, educator and researcher, said the center has potential for research discovery, enhanced patient care and economic development.
The OFRC and Steadman Hawkins Clinic, based in Greenville with offices across the Upstate, are nationally recognized for treatment and research in orthopedics and sports medicine.
“A center of this magnitude will place South Carolina in a pivotal position to become a training center for physicians and other health care professionals who work with patients who have orthopedic and sports medicine health problems,” said Hawkins, a former professional quarterback and current team physician for the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies.
The CoEE program awards lottery funds to the state’s three research universities to create research centers in areas that are likely to advance the state’s economic development. The program also enables the universities to recruit leading researchers, known as CoEE endowed chairs. Each center is awarded from $2 million to $5 million in lottery funds by the state, which must be matched with non-state investment from private or federal sources.