SC gets $20 million for National Science Foundation project

The National Science Foundation awarded South Carolina $20 million for a ten-college research effort to fabricate human tissue. Dr. Roger Markwald of the Medical University of South Carolina is the lead scientist.
“If we’re successful, there will be 70,000 people in this country who will have a better chance at getting a tissue replacement and any more whose organs are failing who could be greatly assisted by a vascularized, tissue engineered assist device that could help them gain the time that they need to either get a transplant or to recover from their own injuries, ” says Markwald.
The alliance includes the state’s three doctoral granting research universities, Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina. Three historically black colleges & universities, Claflin University, South Carolina State University and  Voorhees College are included. Furman University and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort are also members of the alliance.   Denmark Technical College and Greenville Technical College are also participants.
Markwald says the five-year grant will take such research into a new frontier,  much like the US moon mission. “It was a great vision, a challenging vision, but along the way they spun off new discoveries that allowed them to ultimately reach their vision. I think the same thing  will happen on this project as we proceed and go at it step by step we’ll reveal new information that will allow us to overcome, or at least circumvent the hurdles that we face in trying to engineer new tissues and organs.”
The alliance includes the state’s three doctoral granting research universities, Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina. Three historically black colleges & universities, Claflin University, South Carolina State University and Voorhees College are included. Furman University and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort are also members of the alliance.   Denmark Technical College and Greenville Technical College are also participants.
The scientists say that tissue biofabrication could lead to the production of human organs.
“Computer-assisted, layer-by-layer, directed self-assembly of tissues and organs,” Markwald explains. “What makes it work is the discovery that we could print tissues and organs, starting with what we call ‘bio-ink’ — droplets that contain hundreds of thousands of cells.”
This NSF award will connect regional, national and international cyber-networks and give opportunities to South Carolina’s minority-serving programs.
According to the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) — federal-state-university partnerships to expand research and competitiveness for federal research funds– the award provides for:

  • Expansion of a current Medical University of South Carolina bioprinting program into a statewide Advanced Tissue Biofabrication center
  • Recruitment of 22 new faculty with expertise not currently available in South Carolina
  • Creation of a global e-community to facilitate the development of sophisticated databases in vascular technology
  • Establishment of national and international academic industrial collaborations and the integration of statewide initiatives for workforce development, education and communication to the general public
  • Integration of the alliance’s research with K-12 education to build South Carolina’s future high-tech workforce.

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