S.C. health science collaborative names president

COLUMBIA -- Health Sciences South Carolina, a collaborative of six universities and hospitals, has hired a medical research insider one with deep roots in the federal agency responsible for biomedical research as its first president.

Jay Moskowitz, a vice president, dean and chief scientific officer at Pennsylvania State University, will begin his new job Sept. 24.

South Carolina had not fared well in winning research grants and clinical trials. The collaborative, however, is designed to create an institution with the revenue and patient population to be competitive for research dollars.

"Throughout his career in academic research and at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Moskowitz has demonstrated a keen ability not only to identify research with economic potential, but also to bring together stakeholders to support, participate in, and help take those results out of the labs into the real world," said USC president Andrew Sorensen.

Moskowitz said he was attracted by the "novel" level of cooperation between major medical institutions, the Legislature's high level of commitment to medical research, and the need for solutions to South Carolina's high rates of diseases.

Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health and health editor for US News & World Report, said Moskowitz was her deputy and was "terrific at every level: a great leader, a man of strategic vision and high integrity. With his experience at the NIH (the primary agency of the U.S. government responsible for biomedical research) and in academic medicine, he is the perfect person to lead the effort in South Carolina."

Last year, the North Carolina-based Duke Endowment made the first major endorsement of the South Carolina health collaborative concept with a multiyear, $21 million grant to improve health service delivery statewide.

Other early initiatives have included a $5 million brain imaging center at Columbia's Palmetto Health System. Greenville Hospital System is building a Health Sciences Research Education and Innovation Campus as part of the statewide collaboration.

Established in 2004, the collaborative includes Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina, Greenville Hospital System, Palmetto Health of Columbia, and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

These six institutions comprise more than 39,000 employees, 3,100 doctors, $7.5 billion in revenue and $2 billion in payroll each year. They also represent 169,000 hospital admissions and 3.1 million outpatient visits, 16,700 births and more than 1,800 research clinical trials. In the year ended June 30, 2004, research grants totaled $444 million.

"There's a lot of hypertension, a lot of obesity in South Carolina. Getting these major institutions to work together on these problems is a great idea," Moskowitz said.

The collaborative so far has been operated from the facilities of Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia without a dedicated payroll and offices of its own. Moskowitz said he expects some sharing of administrative resources to continue.

"I'm not a person who builds empires. So far, they have been sharing staff. Most of the staff will come from the faculty within the member institutions," he said.

Moskowitz, who will be paid $355,000 annually, is a nationally recognized leader of biomedical research with 35 years in academic medicine. He will hold faculty appointments with USC's Arnold School of Public Health; Clemson University; and the Medical University.

Moskowitz began his career at the National Institutes of Health, rising to the position of principal deputy director and deputy director for Science Policy and Technology Transfer, Office of the Director. In 1989, he became the first director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

In 1995, he went to Wake Forest University School of Medicine as senior associate dean for Science and Technology, playing a key role in developing Wake Forest's Downtown Research Park.

He is associate vice president for Health Sciences Research, Pennsylvania State University; vice dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Penn State College of Medicine; and chief scientific officer, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Reach Hammond at (803) 771-8474.