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University of South Carolina to invest $10M in new research institutes

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 The University of South Carolina will invest $10 million over the next four years in five new interdisciplinary research institutes that will address some of South Carolina’s biggest challenges, including health, education and water quality.

Each of the new research institutes will receive $500,000 per year over four years from USC’s Research Institutes Funding Program, according to a news release.

The institutes will be led by multidisciplinary teams of research faculty focusing on innovative solutions to problems in South Carolina and beyond. Along with new breakthroughs, the institutes have the potential to bring future funding and prosperity to the state in the form of major federal grants and commercialization opportunities, USC officials said.

“These projects truly represent what a flagship research university does best -- bring together experts from multiple disciplines to take on some of the biggest scientific and societal challenges of our time,” said USC President Michael Amiridis.  I congratulate all the researchers involved and thank them for their dedication to our critical mission.”

The institutes, which were competitively selected, will include faculty from seven different USC colleges and represent a wide range of research expertise, said Julius Fridriksson, USC’s vice president for research.

“The highest impact research today involves leveraging multiple perspectives, skillsets and areas of expertise to come up with the most comprehensive possible understanding of or solution to a significant issue,” Fridriksson said. “These institutes hold great promise as both centers of innovation and a major investment in the bright future of interdisciplinary research at USC.”

The new institutes include:

Rural Education and Development: This institute will seek better ways to teach math, science and engineering to rural students across the state. Researchers will focus on early grades with an emphasis on developing a holistic approach to teaching STEM. The director will be Matthew Irvin of USC’s College of Education, with participants from the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine in Columbia.

Institute for Extreme Semiconductor Chips: Directed by Asif Khan of the College of Engineering and Computing, this institute will work to develop more powerful and efficient electronic and optical microchips to be used for the electric grid, electric vehicles, aircraft and advanced health care applications. Other participating colleges are the Arnold School of Public Health and the Darla Moore School of Business.

Institute for Infectious Disease Translational Research: With a focus on studying emerging diseases that have the potential to develop into major public health threats, this institute will be directed by Melissa Nolan of the Arnold School of Public Health. Others involved will be the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Medicine Columbia and the College of Engineering and Computing.  

Institute for Clean Water: This institute will explore novel ways to monitor water quality to ensure safe drinking water and protect the state’s waterways for humans and wildlife. Tammi Richardson of the College of Arts and Sciences will direct it, with collaboration from the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management and the College of Engineering and Computing.

USC Institute for Cardiovascular Disease Research: Directed by Clinton Webb from the School of Medicine, the institute will study ways in which chronic stress leads to physical illness, including heart and kidney disease. This research could eventually lead to the development of new treatments for heart disease, according to the release. The College of Engineering and Computing will participate.

Reach Christina Lee Knauss at 803-753-4327.

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