USC, Claflin University open new
molecular virology laboratory in Orangeburg
The University of South Carolina and Claflin University
have opened a new molecular virology laboratory created to reduce HIV/AIDS and
HPV/cervical cancer rates in the Orangeburg community and elsewhere.
The laboratory is
part of Project EXPORT (Excellence in Partnership for Community
Outreach, Research on Health Disparities, and Training), a research,
education and public outreach collaboration between the two
EXPORT is five-year
effort supported by a $7.5 million grant from the National Center on
Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the National Institutes
“We envision that
this laboratory will be a site where breakthrough research is
conducted. This lab will also expose students to new knowledge and
allow them to gain skills necessary to conduct advanced scientific
research,” said Dr. Saundra Glover, associate dean for health
disparities and social justice at USC’s Arnold School of Public Health.
Glover is also
principal investigator of the EXPORT project and serves as director of
the USC Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities which
has established research, training and outreach relationships between
USC and the state’s historically black colleges and universities.
ceremony was held on April 19 at the new lab located
at 898 Goff Ave. on the Claflin campus in Orangeburg.
Dr. Omar Bagasra, a
Claflin professor and director of the school’s South Carolina Center for
Biotechnology, said the laboratory is housed in a former residence that
was renovated at a cost of about $200,000. It contains new, state of the
art equipment valued at more than $1 million.
Bagasra said the lab
will accommodate about ten graduate students and be available to
visiting scientists from around the globe. Dr. Samina Hassanali will
manage the lab.
Dr. Kim Creek, a
professor at the USC School of Medicine who has coordinated cancer
research programs between USC and Claflin, said training minority
students in cancer research is also a major function of the lab.
Authorities at both
universities say training health professionals from minority and
underserved populations will advance the cause of reducing, eliminating
or preventing health disparities in South Carolina.
Bagasra said that
when the EXPORT Project is completed, the lab will be available to
provide molecular diagnostic service for research and other uses.
The school also is
working with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety to do
local forensics research, which will allow evidence
to be studied without sending it to Columbia.