Advancing Biomedical Research in South Carolina

Statewide team lands funding to explore solutions to biomedical challenges

Naren Vyavahare

Naren Vyavahare

In its first decade, SC BioCRAFT matched seasoned mentors with 23 early-career researchers. They went on to generate $35 million for research into spinal cord injuries, new ways of growing vascular tissue for grafts and a wide range of other biomedical challenges.

Now the South Carolina Bioengineering Center for Regeneration and Formation of Tissues has received $5.7 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to fund the next five years of research on treatments for illnesses ranging from diabetes to heart disease.

Researchers involved in the center have been awarded 24 patents, spun off four start-up companies and generated 304 articles in peer-reviewed publications.

SC BioCRAFT began operating in 2009 under the direction of Naren Vyavahare, the Hunter Endowed Chair of Bioengineering at Clemson. “It feels good to know that we have junior faculty who have been so successful and have their own independent labs because of this center,” Vyavahare said. “SC BioCRAFT is playing a key role in building the biomedical research infrastructure in South Carolina.”

The center’s primary mission is to increase the number of South Carolina biomedical researchers who receive funding for their work from the National Institutes of Health. The research theme revolves around regenerative medicine, a fast-growing field that offers the promise of repairing and regenerating diseased tissues.

The center brings together researchers, clinicians and other health care professionals from across the state to advance biomedical research. Clemson researchers collaborate closely with colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina and Prisma Health.

Clemson is now home to three Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, including the South Carolina Center for Translational Research Improving Musculoskeletal Health and the Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center.

Tanju Karanfil, Clemson’s vice president for research, said that the success of SC BioCRAFT is helping fuel a trend toward collaboration among institutions. “Each institution brings its own strengths and ways of looking at the various health care challenges we face,” he said. “Bringing them together leads to innovative solutions that might have eluded us if we were to work on our own. SC BioCRAFT and our other Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence are great examples of that concept in action.”