The National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has awarded $18.9 million for the renewal of the South Carolina IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE) to support biomedical research and infrastructure in South Carolina. The grant will fund the program for five years beginning September 1, 2020 and is the fourth consecutive renewal of SC INBRE. 

“We are immensely proud to be a new member, particularly as a Predominantly Undergraduate Institution and the only HBCU in the SC INBRE IV (2020-2025) cohort,” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President and CEO of Benedict College. “I applaud Dr. Samir Raychoudhury, the Institutional PI and his team, for advancing biomedical research at Benedict College.”

With this renewal, the SC INBRE Program grows to a statewide network of 14 member institutions, two outreach institutions and two alumni institutions. Member and outreach/alumni institutions incorporate South Carolina’s three Comprehensive Research Universities (CRUs) and 15 of the state’s Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), including three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). SC INBRE is administered at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia (UofSC SOMC). “Our 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 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.”

Other SC INBRE member institutions include CRUs: Clemson University and Medical University of South Carolina, as well as PUIs: Benedict College (new in this INBRE renewal, HBCU), Coastal Carolina UniversityCollege of CharlestonColumbia College (new in this INBRE renewal), Converse CollegeFrancis Marion UniversityFurman UniversityPresbyterian CollegeUniversity of South Carolina AikenUniversity of South Carolina Upstate (new in this INBRE renewal), and Winthrop University. Graduating as members from SC INBRE, but remaining a part of the network as alumni institutions, are Claflin University (HBCU) and South Carolina State University (HBCU). The two Outreach Institutions in the network are Anderson University and The Citadel (new to this INBRE renewal). 

“We are excited to continue the mission of enhancing biomedical research throughout South Carolina,” said Dr. Edie Goldsmith, UofSC SOMC professor of Cell Biology & Anatomy and SC INBRE Program Director. “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. We are proud of our previous accomplishments and are looking forward to having an even greater impact on the state’s biomedical and biosciences community.” 

“SC INBRE had a huge impact on biomedical research in South Carolina during INBRE Cycle III (2015-2020). At the time we submitted our renewal in Spring of 2019, our 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% enrolled in graduate school, 17% went to medical/health professional school, and 39% 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.” 

With this renewal, SC INBRE will expand training capacity at five PUIs through renovation of existing space/facilities. Career and professional development activities will be provided to SC INBRE faculty and students, as well as opportunities to network and develop collaborations with SC INBRE colleagues. Bringing together colleges and universities from across South Carolina, over the next five years SC INBRE will continue to advance biomedical research by addressing the need for increased understanding of, and treatment options for, many human diseases while training the next generation of biomedical scientists. SC INBRE will continue to create research training opportunities for undergraduate students at institutions across South Carolina and promote increased diversity in the biomedical workforce. Concluded Goldsmith, “With the changing demographics in our state and country, engaging a diverse undergraduate student population in biomedical research through the SC INBRE program will ensure a well-educated workforce of physicians, scientists, healthcare providers and other professionals prepared to address the current and future health care problems in America.”