For Charles Bennett, medication safety is an under-appreciated field.
The endowed chair of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (a collaboration between the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina), Bennett says there’s little prestige or money for those who examine problems with medical drugs.
Many people look at it as: when you take a drug wrong, then something bad happens to you. Very few people ask the question: when you take the drug exactly as prescribed and something really bad happens, who’s going to look out for you? That’s what we do.
Bennett says having a medication safety field at the state level is unique to South Carolina. And, he says a state economic research program allows it all to happen.Legislators gathered at the Statehouse Tuesday to tout a program they say created almost 5,000 high paying jobs in South Carolina.
The Centers of Economic Excellence program was launched by the legislature eight years ago. It allows the state’s three public research universities–USC, MUSC, and Clemson–to use lottery funds to create research centers aimed at growing the state’s economy into new scientific fields.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell said the return on investment has been a “gift” for the state.
The COEE program is based on the idea that great research universities, equipped with the best talent and technology, working hand-in-hand with the private sector, is a great way to create more high-paying jobs that help raise the standard of living for all people in South Carolina.
The research centers have a wide range in 49 fields, from cancer research to automotive design.
The Centers’ Review Board said the program has garnered more than $360 million in investments, which is double the $180 million it has received from the state in the eight years of its existence. Harrell says the centers are bringing industries to South Carolina that probably would not have come otherwise.
This is not… a system based on, “If you build it, they will come.” A more accurate saying would be, “The market is out there. Let’s make it happen in South Carolina.” And that’s what we’re doing.
Harrell admitted that a large amount of money has been invested so far, and is expensive on a per-job basis. However, he defended the program, saying it’s a long-term process to put an infrastructure into place. The program’s Review Board says more than 4,700 jobs have been created under the program.
The three universities involved must match state funds entirely with other sources in order to get the centers. USC president Harris Pastides says the program has helped all three schools expand their research into new fields.
Today we can see the evidence of the tremendous value that entities from outside the state are placing on that innovation.
Pastides led USC’s research arm before he became president of the school in 2008.
Bennett says the centers create a working environment that would otherwise not exist.
I’ve been at six other schools. You would hardly find a school with a commitment to do pharmaceutical safety the way we’re doing it, because of the concern that you have that… the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, might not be supportive.
Fifteen companies have also started up as part of the COEE’s program.