SeniorSMART CoEE to help
The review board that oversees the state's Centers of Economic
Excellence (CoEE) Program has approved state funding for a new Center of
Economic Excellence that will be a collaboration between the University
of South Carolina and Clemson University with Health Sciences South
Carolina (HSSC) contributing as a major non-state matching partner.
The newly approved SeniorSMART™ CoEE will focus on multidisciplinary
research to foster independence for senior citizens. The center's
research will fall under three major themes: SHARP BRAIN (helping
seniors maintain intellectual activity); SMART WHEELS (promoting
independent mobility outside the home for seniors); and SMART HOME
(helping seniors maintain independent mobility inside the home). In
total, the SeniorSMART™ CoEE received a $5 million award, which must be
matched dollar for dollar by private, federal or municipal funds.
Dr. Paul Eleazer, professor of internal medicine at the University of
South Carolina School of Medicine,
will lead the project and will work with Dr. Dennis Poole, dean of the
University of South Carolina's
College of Social Work; Dr. William Logan, Director of
Geriatrics at the Greenville Hospital System; Dr. Victor Hirth,
USC/Palmetto Geriatrics; Dr. Johnell Brooks, Clemson University; Drs.
Harriett Williams and James Laditka, of the university's
Arnold School of Public Health;
and Judy Baskins, RN, Palmetto Health/USC.
"Researchers will take advantage of the University of South
Carolina's engineering, social work and medical schools and will work to
develop new ways of retrofitting residences so that the elderly can stay
in their own homes longer and enjoy a better quality of life," Eleazer
said. "In addition, they will conduct research at Clemson University's
International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) to develop cars
that help older adults retain their ability to drive safely as they
continue to age."
The CoEE will be housed primarily at the University of South
Carolina's Columbia campus, with additional research taking place at
Clemson and the Greenville Hospital System. Health Sciences South
Carolina has already announced that it will provide a portion of the
required non-state match.
The center also will support three endowed chairs. Two at Carolina
will focus on memory and brain function, and community and social
support, and the chair at Clemson will be designated for research on
independence and driving ability.
"South Carolina has an excellent opportunity to become nationally
competitive in the area of smart mobility," said Harris Pastides, vice
president for research and
health sciences at South Carolina. "The SeniorSMART™ CoEE
leverages core competencies at our state's research universities to help
us become a leader in this high-growth industry."
Poole said the research would enable older, frail adults to live at
"This is an exciting venture for the College of Social Work. The
Endowed Professor of Community and Social Support will lead a team to
develop technologies, products and services to allow older adults to
live independently at home, even as they become frail," Poole said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina's senior
(over-65) population is projected to grow by 133 percent between 2000
and 2030, stressing the state's physical and financial infrastructure.
Unless society devises new ways to promote independence for older
adults, the healthcare system and nursing homes will soon be hard
pressed to accommodate the 80-and-over population.
"This Center will address a critical problem for the nation and
especially for South Carolina and our surging retiree population," said
CoEE Review Board Chair Paula Harper Bethea. "As increasing numbers of
people reach their senior years of life, it's essential to provide ways
for them to maintain their independence as long as possible. The
approval of this Center is an important step in taking care of our aging
The S.C. Centers of Economic Excellence Program was established by
the South Carolina General Assembly in 2002, with $200 million
designated from the South Carolina Education Lottery Account to fund the
program through 2010.
The legislation authorizes the state's three public research
institutions (Clemson, MUSC 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 between $2 million to $5 million in state funds,
which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with federal, private
or municipal funds.
To receive funding, the research universities must submit proposals
that undergo a rigorous three-tier review process involving technical
experts, site visits and an external review panel.
HSSC, a public-private partnership of Clemson University, Greenville
Hospital System, the Medical University of South Carolina, Palmetto
Health, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and the University of
South Carolina, works to advance health-science education and research.