Dr. Jay Moskowitz, President & CEO of Health Sciences South Carolina
What is your educational and professional background? How did you become President and CEO of Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC)?
I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Queens College in Queens, New York, and a Ph.D. from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
I have been a contributor to the health sciences industry for almost 40 years. For the first 26 years of my professional career, I served at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington, D.C. This was a great opportunity for me, as the NIH funds, promotes, and sponsors the best and highest-level health sciences research in the world. During that time, I advanced through the ranks from research fellow to eventually achieving the position of Principal Deputy Director in 1992.
In 1995, I accepted the position as Senior Associate Dean of the School of Medicine at Wake Forest University during which time the faculty doubled its research effort.
In 2002, I was recruited to the position of Associate Vice President for Health Research at the Penn State University, helping to establish and oversee their cutting edge inter-campus health research program.
I became the first President and CEO of Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC) in July 2007. In this position, I oversee HSSC's strategic operations. The overall goal is for HSSC to gain national and international recognition, and eventually prominence as a statewide medical research enterprise. To do this, I plan to draw upon my expertise in translational research to facilitate the process of implementation of laboratory scientific discoveries into improved health and healthcare for the citizens of the State of South Carolina. This opportunity was very attractive to me as I observed an incredible level of cooperation, communication, and collaboration taking place in our state's universities and hospitals that are members of HSSC. I strongly believe that this collaboration is South Carolina's "competitive advantage."
What are the origins of HSSC?
HSSC is the result of the South Carolina General Assembly's strategic vision for transforming the state's economy using research as a key driver. This vision resulted in the creation of the Centers of Economic Excellence (COEE) Program in 2002. The General Assembly recognized that the state's economy needed to undergo a transformation in order to enable the state to compete in the global economy. Their vision was to establish and promote a program that builds infrastructure within South Carolina and enables the development necessary to generate new, high quality jobs. This will eventually lead to a rise in household income in South Carolina. The innovation that comes from research is key factor in this transformation. The COEE program gives South Carolina research universities a powerful tool for raising capital from the private sector to fund endowments for professorships in targeted research areas. These funds not only spur the South Carolina economy in the short term, but also help establish infrastructure that is necessary for long-term achievement of this vision. This infrastructure leads to the establishment of specialized business clusters that promote economic growth and attract new business and jobs to South Carolina.
The COEE sectors identified as having the greatest long-term strategic importance in South Carolina's economy are automotive engineering, biomedicine, nanotechnology, and alternative fuels. To date, the program has attracted nearly one quarter of a billion dollars of non-state funds to the state of South Carolina. Without the COEE program, it is likely that much, if not all of this funding would not have made it to our state.
HSSC was founded in April, 2004 and is a biomedicine arm of the COEE program. A goal of HSSC is to enhance the COEE program by not only improving the economy, but also improving public health, strengthening health care-related education and facilitating workforce development in South Carolina.
What is your mission?
Our mission is to improve the physical, mental and economic health of the citizens of South Carolina. In order to do this, we plan to leverage the fruits of biomedical research, be it new diagnostics, treatments, prevention technologies or delivery systems, in order to move South Carolina's public health from the lowest quartile of the 50 states to the upper levels in terms of health-related metrics in addition to the creation of new, high paying jobs.
How do you accomplish that?
HSSC is unique in the nation in that it combines the state's three research-intensive universities—Clemson, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina— with the state's largest health systems—Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, Palmetto Health and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System—to create a statewide biomedical research collaborative. The collaborative builds upon the COEE program, establishing an even more powerful engine for research that attracts talented people and economic investment to South Carolina. This engine will help accelerate the change the General Assembly envisioned. This is what drew me to South Carolina.
Our goal is to connect researchers, clinicians, entrepreneurs, investors, and other partners from across the state and around the country and world to the benefit of all South Carolinians. In order to compete in the world today, you have to be willing to collaborate, share knowledge, and set up strategic alliances between public and private sector institutions, as well as between previously competing institutions and across borders. That is how you deliver world-class science and create areas of long-term competitive advantage that lead to the formation of clusters of economic excellence. The exciting part is that South Carolina is doing this as well, if not better, than any other state in the nation. It is a very exciting time to be in South Carolina.
The COEE Program involves funding endowed chairs. What is their purpose?
At the heart of each Center of Economic Excellence is one (or more) world-class scientist, or endowed chair, recruited to South Carolina from outside the state. The endowed chair serves as the nucleus of the Center, conducting the research that will someday be translated into a commercial product, service, technology or spin-off company. HSSC currently supports 11 COEEs. We have eight endowed chair holders in place and are actively recruiting for the remaining positions. The fact that HSSC is a statewide collaborative is very helpful in recruiting world-class talent to South Carolina. You have heard the saying, "Great minds think alike?" Well, great minds also like thinking and working together in a collaborative environment like we have here. We have been able to attract endowed chairs from some very prestigious research institutions, including Georgetown University, Penn State and Duke University to name a few.
What are your 11 COEEs?
Each of the following HSSC-supported COEEs play a critical role in helping South Carolina get to the next level in terms of improved public health, health care and economic health.
Medication Safety and Efficacy – the newest COEE, is researching creative and sustainable ways to reduce medication errors.
Brain Imaging – focuses on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in health and disease. In addition, MRI is useful in the development of security in the next generation of safer armored vehicles.
Cancer Stem Cell Biology – focuses on research to develop new therapeutic options for killing cancer stem cells within malignant tumors.
Childhood Neurotherapeutics – focuses on the treatment of psychological, psychiatric and nervous disorders. This Center has already produced basic discoveries and intellectual property that has created spin-off companies and relationships with pharmaceutical companies
Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety – South Carolina is fast becoming a world leader in simulation training and curriculum development for the health care workforce. The rapid success of this COEE's labs is leading to significant commercial opportunities.
Healthcare Quality – implementing the statewide clinical trials system within an interconnected health information system to support research and has forged numerous relationships to improve health care quality, patient safety, clinical effectiveness, and cost reduction.
Health Facilities Design – is centered at Clemson's award-winning School of Architecture and studies how design can impact patient safety and health care outcomes.
Molecular Proteomics for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention – focuses on utilizing individualized treatment plans for heart disease based on a patient's biomarkers
Regenerative Medicine – is centered on the rapidly emerging field of restoring or enhancing tissue and organ function.
SeniorSMART™ – is focused on preserving older adult independence.
Stroke – REACH Stroke Network is a statewide initiative to make stroke care available in small and rural hospitals. Agreements have been established with multiple hospitals in the Lowcountry and the Pee Dee
Do you have plans for more HSSC-supported COEEs?
We have proposed several new and exciting COEEs in the areas of behavioral neuroscience, metabolic disorders that lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation.
What are some of the roadblocks to success for HSSC?
Funding is always a challenge, especially in this economy, but I would say that the complexity of information technology (IT) and bioinformatics and its implementation at numerous institutions throughout the state is a potential roadblock. But out of challenges come opportunities. Our model to improve healthcare requires novel approaches that will direct ongoing care for patients such as the widespread use of point-of-care information systems, implementation of biomarkers for detection and diagnostic tests, and the development of personalized therapy. In order to be successful, we will require significant advancements to our current IT health care infrastructure. The statewide IT system will help us accelerate projects, facilitate data collection and help us compete for NIH funding. It will also be connected to entities outside the state to facilitate collaboration at the national and global levels. IT is a critical enabler for our short and long-tem success.
The use of IT in health care has gained national attention under President Obama's administration and is an area where South Carolina can take a national leadership position. To help position South Carolina for these new opportunities, HSSC is sponsoring the South Carolina Health Information Technology Summit, along with the South Carolina Department of Health & Human Services, so that we can establish a plan for a statewide health information technology infrastructure as well as provide for proof of concept research. The federal government will be awarding billions of dollars to states through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to establish such systems. We are developing a strategy so that South Carolina can secure and invest these federal dollars wisely. This will make a significant difference to our citizens and to those charged with their healthcare.
What are your five-year goals of HSSC?
One of the main goals I have is for HSSC to become self-sufficient. Another goal is to show a continuous increase in the health status of the citizens of South Carolina and finally to provide for the establishment of new jobs and services in the health sector.
Do you assist companies in getting products to market?
We establish partnerships with state government and private entities to assist companies with the acquisition of capital and the formation of their business. Most recently, HSSC hired a Chief Economic Development Officer to guide this process. Getting products and services to market and creating high paying jobs is ultimately what it's all about! The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and local law firms have been and will continue to be key partners in getting products and services to market, forging business relationships and protecting intellectual property.
When can South Carolinians expect to see a return on investment?
South Carolinians should absolutely expect a return on the investment of public money. The COEE Program has already become a powerful magnet for recruiting researchers, investment, and grants from the NIH, The Duke Endowment and the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. The Duke Endowment Grant awarded $21 million, the largest in its health division history, to fund the Center for Healthcare Quality. Overall, HSSC has secured more than $200 million in private commitments. That represents a great return on investment.
Another key metric for measuring the success of our program will be in the number of health-related companies that we create or attract to South Carolina.
Beyond the COEE program, HSSC has established a collaborative partnership with the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) that includes the Every Patient Counts initiative to improve healthcare quality and patient safety. HSSC and SCHA launched the South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust, which seeks to eliminate in-hospital infections and the costs associated with treating preventable infections. This project alone has the potential to save lives and as much as a projected $40 million a year at South Carolina hospitals.
It takes an average of 15-20 years between original research and the actual commercialization of a new product. Because of the high level of cooperation between all HSSC members, we anticipate being able to reduce time to market, but South Carolinians will have to be patient when it comes to seeing new products, new drugs, for example, as a result of our programs. We have to be patient and stay the course. There is no doubt in my mind that we are on the right path and that we have the proper infrastructure in place to translate these discoveries into high impact results. Some amazing opportunities are being created as a result of HSSC.