MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

CoEE in Stem Cell

Contact: Vicky Agnew
MUSC Hollings Cancer Center
Phone: (843) 792-0376
Mobile: (843) 697-6208

Center in Cancer and Stem Cell Biology and Therapy Will Position South Carolina As Leader in Bioengineering and Biomedicine

COLUMBIA, S.C. June 16, 2008 — While survival rates have improved over the years with standard cancer therapies that utilize surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to attack cancer tumors, cancer remains one of the significant threats to public health. A recently approved Center of Economic Excellence (CoEE), to be housed at MUSC's Hollings Cancer Center, will seek to improve cancer outcomes by developing new therapeutic options for killing cancer stem cells and stem cell replacement.

The CoEE in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy was recently approved by the CoEE Review Board for $5 million in state funding through the South Carolina Research Centers of Economic Excellence Act. Health Sciences South Carolina, along with other philanthropic funding, will provide the $5 million dollar-for-dollar match required by the state.

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), home to the Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) and four other cancer-related CoEEs, will lead the new CoEE in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy, and will work in close collaboration with Clemson and other HSSC member institutions. The focus of the CoEE is two-fold: first, identify ways to use the body’s stem cells found in bone marrow or adult organs as treatment targets for cancer therapy; second, develop and market the bioengineering aspects of stem cell collection and utilization for more functional and adaptable clinical applications.

The Center will have two endowed chairs, cancer cellular research and cancer bioengineering research, which will reside at MUSC. Recruiting for nationally respected researchers is underway. MUSC’s certified Bone Marrow Transplant program and National Institutes of Health-funded General Clinical Research Center will further enhance research efforts. The Center will interface with other CoEEs that address cancer and regenerative medicine, leveraging the intellectual talent at MUSC and Clemson.

Andrew Kraft, MD, HCC director, is the Center’s principal contact. He says the CoEE in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy will position South Carolina as a leader in this new transdisciplinary field, which merges bioengineering and biomedicine. “This CoEE will provide the resources to recruit outstanding individuals to explore the function and inhibition of cancer stem cells, and in so doing, may lead to exciting new stem cell-based cancer therapies that will improve survival rates and create new economic opportunities for South Carolina,” says Dr. Kraft.

“This effort would not be possible without close collaboration between MUSC and Clemson, which will be spearheaded by Vincent S. Gallicchio, PhD; and the investments made by the State of South Carolina, Health Sciences South Carolina and its members,” Dr. Kraft adds.

In keeping with the HSSC mission to advance the state’s economy through research, the CoEE in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy will have an immediate economic impact from the recruitment and hiring of the endowed chairs and their research staffs. Other opportunities include new private spin-off companies and patents generated by discoveries related to tissue engineering, anti-cancer therapies, cell replacement therapies, bioreactors, and drug screening and discovery that are then licensed by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The CoEE also will pursue additional funding from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.

Citing the importance of cancer stem cell research and the potential for improving both public health and the state’s knowledge economy, HSSC president and CEO Jay Moskowitz, PhD, congratulated the Commission on Higher Education and the CoEE Review Board for approving the CoEE in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy: “This is a further validation of the CoEE program, which seeks to transform our state’s future through research. The stem cell research proposed by Drs. Kraft and Gallicchio has tremendous implications for the potential development of novel, more effective therapies that can be patented, and in the process, dramatically improve cancer survival rates. We look forward to sharing more news from the new CoEE.”

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About Health Sciences South Carolina
Established in April 2004, Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC) is a statewide public-private collaborative of universities and health systems possessing the shared vision of using health sciences research to improve the health and economic wellbeing of South Carolina. HSSC includes Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina, Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, Palmetto Health, and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. For more information, visit

About the CoEE Program
The South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence Program was established by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2002, funded through South Carolina Education Lottery proceeds. The legislation authorizes the state's three public research institutions, Medical University of South Carolina, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, to use state funds to create Centers of Economic Excellence in research areas that will advance South Carolina's economy. Each Center of Economic Excellence is awarded from $2 million to $5 million in state funds, which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with non-state funds. The program also supports CoEE endowed chairs, world-renowned scientists who lead the Centers of Economic Excellence. By investing in talent and technology, the CoEE Program is designed to fuel the state's knowledge-based economy, resulting in high-paying jobs and an improved standard of living in South Carolina. For more information, visit

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About Hollings Cancer Center
Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques and has multidisciplinary clinics that involve surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists and many other specialists seeing patients under one roof.  Multidisciplinary care is provided in disease specific clinics such as thoracic, breast, head & neck, genitourinary, gastrointestinal, hematological, and pediatric cancers. Hollings Cancer Center is the largest academic-based cancer program in South Carolina.  The Hollings Cancer Center is currently a developing National Cancer Institute designated cancer center and has more than $35M in cancer research funding. More than 1,000 people are currently participating on a cancer clinical trial at HCC.  For more information, please visit

About MUSC
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 11,000 employees, including 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.6 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit or



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