November 29, 2004

Greenberg: Growth on tap for MUSC

Martin Sinderman  /  CRBJ

Following a year of expansion in programs that was also marked by an emphasis on relationship building with the state's other research universities, 2005 will be a period of physical growth for the Medical University of South Carolina.

"We are now moving into a growth phase," says MUSC president Dr. Ray Greenberg, "where the biggest challenge for us is to expand our facilities to accommodate the level of growth in our programs."

Building relationships

Building upon MUSC's "increasingly close working relationships" with Clemson University and the University of South Carolina was a major item on Greenberg's agenda during 2004. These relationships include the biomedical engineering partnership with Clemson, a collaborative research program that places Clemson professors and graduate students in MUSC labs in order to give them closer access to clinical testing.

Meanwhile, serious discussions are now under way regarding several of joint MUSC/USC initiatives, including a merger of the schools' colleges of pharmacy and expanding into the Upstate "in order to put together a truly premier, top-10 college of pharmacy with statewide activity."

The South Carolina Education Lottery-funded Endowed Chairs Program, designed to recruit top-quality scientists to the state, has provided the dollars for a number of joint MUSC/USC/Clemson chairs, says Greenberg, as well as a joint MUSC/College of Charleston chair in marine genomics. And in 2004, MUSC, Greenville Hospital System, Palmetto Health and USC came together to establish the South Carolina Health Sciences Collaborative, which will invest a total of $8 million annually an amount eligible for Endowed Chairs Program matching funds - for health sciences research in the state.

The first step MUSC's expanding web of relationships in 2004 will be followed by growth in and modifications to its physical plant during 2005, according to Greenberg. Following planning, design, local regulatory reviews and agreement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to insure $401 million worth of bonds during 2004, the first phase of MUSC's new hospital will be well under way in 2005.

The 625,000-square-foot facility will take around 30 to 36 months to complete, according to Greenberg. Meanwhile, an early 2005 completion date is set for the first phase of the expansion of Hollings Cancer Center. This seven-story, 116,378-square-foot addition will bring the center to a total of 202,139 square feet, and bring all MUSC cancer programs together under one roof. The expansion is "a critical step for the center in getting National Cancer Institute designation," according to Greenberg, which is a "seal of approval" for institutions offering top-quality cancer research and patient care "that we have been working very hard to get."

Other projects under way include renovation of the former Charleston High School building into a new home for the MUSC College of Health Professions. The project, started in 2004, preserves the historic fa├žade of the facility while adding new space and a parking garage, and should be completed in 2005, according to Greenberg. The process of occupying the Children's Research Institute, a 120,000-square-foot facility that represents "the first addition of brand-new lab space on our campus since 1998," will also continue in 2005. Additionally, Greenberg reports, work is proceeding on renovating space MUSC administration used to occupy in the school's library building into what he calls "a state-of-the-art student center in the middle of the campus."

All these projects accommodate the expansion now taking place in the mission of the university. "We are expanding our capacity on the education front with a new student center and College of Health Professions; on the research front with the Hollings Cancer Center and Children's Research Institute; and on the clinical front with both the cancer center and the new hospital," says Greenberg, who adds that "Expansion of these facilities reflects the growth we are experiencing in all dimensions of our mission."