COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy SC INBRE and Benedict College) – Seven SCICU member institutions are joining 11 other colleges and universities in the National Institutes of Health-funded biomedical college research network in South Carolina. SC INBRE (SC IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) promotes research collaboration among South Carolina’s comprehensive research universities (Clemson, USC, and MUSC) and predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs).
The 2020-2025 research cycle represents the fourth consecutive five-year grant renewal funding for SC INBRE. For this five-year period, the NIH is providing $18.9 million in grant funding to support collegiate biomedical research and infrastructure in South Carolina.
The seven SCICU members participating in SC INBRE are Anderson University, Benedict College, Claflin University (SC INBRE alumni institution), Columbia College, Converse College, Furman University, and Presbyterian College.
“Benedict’s mission is to provide high-quality biomedical research mentoring to our undergraduate students who are interested in graduate or professional studies in biomedical sciences,” noted Dr. Samir Raychoudhury, professor of Biology in the Benedict College Department of Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Health Science. “We plan to use the SC INBRE funding to make upgrades to our existing Animal Care facility. The proposed renovation will keep the facility in compliance with the USDA and NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). Our facility is the only HBCU in the state with USDA certification and OLAW assurance.”
SC INBRE grant funding also supports student research at SCICU institutions. SCICU annually sponsors the Undergraduate Student/Faculty Research program, and funds student research proposals selected through a competitive project review. Each year a number of SCICU-funded student research projects also receive SC INBRE support. SCICU’s annual undergraduate research program culminates with students presenting project findings at the research symposium held each February.
The SC INBRE network comprises 18 colleges and universities in South Carolina – three comprehensive research institutions (CRUs – Clemson, MUSC, and USC) and 15 primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). SCICU members collectively make up nearly half of the primarily undergraduate institutions chosen for the SC INBRE 2020-2025 cohort.
“We are excited to continue the mission of enhancing biomedical research throughout South Carolina,” said Dr. Edie Goldsmith, SC INBRE program director and University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Columbia professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy. “This renewal will allow us to continue to train students, support faculty research, and provide additional support for infrastructure and education/pipeline development. This is the largest our network has been in our almost 20-year history.”
“SC INBRE had a huge impact on biomedical research in South Carolina during INBRE Cycle III (2015-2020). The data from the first four years of INBRE III showed that from 2015-2019, 415 students were trained in biomedical research labs in the SC INBRE network,” continued Goldsmith. “For the students who completed their undergraduate education in INBRE Cycle III, 44 percent enrolled in graduate school, 17 percent went to medical/health professional school, and 39 percent obtained a job in industry. SC INBRE faculty and students produced over 100 publications and gave over 600 presentations. Their work led to over $9 million dollars in extramural funding from a variety of federal and non-federal sources. Fostering inter-institutional collaborations and promoting a research culture at PUIs, SC INBRE contributed to a collaborative NIH U54 award which brought in $12.5 million in research dollars to South Carolina.”
SCICU faculty members also champion SC INBRE outreach programs designed to engage high school teachers and students, strengthening the pipeline of future college students interested in biomedical research careers and actively encouraging participation by underrepresented minority students and those from underserved areas in South Carolina.
Dr. John Kaup, director of science education at Furman University, coordinates SC INBRE’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Program. The RET program enables teachers to engage in a six-week in-depth research experience at an SC INBRE institution in their local area, exposing teachers to modern research methods and allowing them to link their research activities to classroom activities designed to increase student knowledge and awareness of science.