A President's Perspective – April 2022

Dear MUSC family,

As I write this, we’re wrapping up MUSC’s Innovation Week 2022, and I’m so excited that the MUSC family rose to the occasion with our largest “Shark Tank” participation ever, involving more than 1,200 people! In case you are unfamiliar with MUSC’s Shark Tank, which is a part of the yearly weeklong celebration of our innovative culture, I’ll summarize its aim: through live and on-demand programming, connection to campus resources, poster sessions and our very own version of the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” innovators throughout the enterprise are encouraged and empowered to offer new ideas, new processes and new ways to solve challenges and push forward innovative approaches to what we do.

As was written in a recent Catalyst News article, the Shark Tank itself is a “fun-filled annual event that features teams that have been chosen as finalists pitching their ideas to a panel of MUSC’s executive leaders for an opportunity to win bragging rights and funding to support the development or scaling of their concepts. The finalists are selected from the submissions to the Innovation Week poster session.” And what’s even better this year? Our Regional Health Network sites across the state also hosted their own Shark Tank events for the first time as well.

I always enjoy the opportunity to participate as one of the “sharks” and hear the interesting and creative concepts that individuals and teams hope to get funded (and as a connoisseur of “dad jokes,” I appreciated the fun and bad shark humor that event organizers offered between Shark Tank presentations.) It was particularly meaningful this year because it was our first in-person gathering since 2019 for this purpose, and it highlights how seriously I and the senior leadership team are about supporting and considering ideas that solve challenges in all corners of the enterprise.

While it will take some time to see the outcomes generated from this year’s winning ideas, I encourage you to learn more about one of the ideas funded last year by physical therapist and assistant professor Stephanie McGowan, called the Bridge Program. According to the article, “it’s a science-based, transitional program for injured athletes who finish traditional physical therapy – but aren’t ready to safely return to sports. Bridge Program therapists use technology and physical tests to analyze their patients’ movement and performance. That lets them tailor the rehab to the athlete’s needs, reducing the risk of reinjuring the part of the body that was hurt – or suffering an entirely new injury.”

I hope that as you follow the above links and learn more about how we’re working to promote an innovative, problem-solving culture at MUSC, perhaps you will become inspired to innovate from wherever you are, and that maybe, just maybe, YOU will be a presenter at next year’s event.

Yours in service,

David J. Cole, M.D., FACS
MUSC President

Innovation in Action

Our MUSC Heart and Vascular team is no stranger to the cutting edge – it’s where its team members have lived and operated for decades. Recently, they achieved another major worldwide win when combining clinical and research prowess to become the second team globally to use a new, minimally invasive procedure to implant a heart failure device. Simultaneously, another blow to the glass ceiling was accomplished by women physicians in a historically male-dominated specialty, as the two MUSC physicians involved in the procedure were women.

Cut to the Chase

My most recent blog post was inspired by the recent discovery of a 100-year-old shipwreck in the depths of the Antarctic Ocean and harkens back to one of my first posts. As always, I aim for providing you with a quick, thought-provoking read and hope you’ll take a few minutes to think about how that wreck translates to the embracing of digital transformation at MUSC and where you fit into that concept.

If you are interested in suggesting a topic for possible inclusion in a future blog, please email me at president-com@musc.edu.

Giving with Purpose

You likely know “Come Together” as the lead song of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. It’s also the name of a new scholarship from the slightly lesser known “Fab Five.” The “Fab Five” includes College of Health Professions faculty members Sandra Brotherton, PT, Ph.D.; Debora Brown, PT, DPT; David Morrisette, PT, Ph.D.; David Sword, PT, DPT; and Holly Wise, PT, Ph.D., who are all retiring in May. As a parting gift, they have established the Come Together Physical Therapy Endowed Scholarship. The name is a special nod to Dr. Morrisette’s love for music and the Beatles as well as their wish for this scholarship to bring together students, alumni and faculty of the PT program. I wanted to thank each faculty member publicly for his or her service to the college and for embracing our values of compassion, innovation and collaboration through the creation of this scholarship. Learn more about the “Fab Five” and what inspired this gift.

From Kathy

Dave and I were so happy to be able to go back to our tradition of hosting MUSC’s Student Government Association (SGA) members at our house for an annual dinner, on March 30. Along with MUSC provost Lisa Saladin and the majority of our college deans, we typically hold this event in the fall, but COVID forced us to forgo this fun event for the past two years.

The key takeaway from our time together? MUSC has a very strong, brilliant and compassionate group of student leaders who go above and beyond in so many ways to improve the educational and quality of life experience for every student in every college. In spending this time together, I was once again reminded of the diversity of experience, intelligence and grit that defines this awesome group of student leaders. These 54 SGA representatives serve a critical role in ensuring that the student voice is integrated into key decisions affecting student life and academics, all while juggling the demands of their rigorous curriculums. And, during the pandemic, they’ve been a leading voice amongst their peers in underscoring the importance of compliance with precautions; coming up with innovative ways to support each other, faculty and care team members; and advocating for evidence-based information related to the virus and how it impacts different communities. Our student body, faculty and university staff owe them much gratitude for all they do while juggling so much!


Saving babies’ brains: MUSC researchers created a model to find treatment options for a type of brain bleed in premature babies.

Alzheimer’s discovery: Noted Alzheimer’s researchers at MUSC weigh in on the recent discovery of 42 new Alzheimer’s genes and discuss what it means for the future of research.

Sim Lab: The College of Nursing Sim Lab lets nursing students practice patient safety, practical skills, communication and clinical judgment in a safe environment.

Space study: A study of data from NASA, ESA and the Russian space agency explores the effects of extended spaceflight on brain.

His own path: John Rhodes, M.D., has never been comfortable talking about his dyslexia. But he decided to speak at TEDxCharleston to prove that academic success is possible.

EDS research: Researchers, doctors, patients and donors gathered to celebrate the progress in researching Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Hereditary cancer clinic: Kevin Hughes, M.D., leads Hollings’ Hereditary Cancer Clinic, one of first in nation.

Burn center success: MUSC Health’s Burn Center is high performing in quality and survival outcomes.

In Our DNA SC: Expansion allows more to participate in community research program In Our DNA SC.

Cessation program:
A Hollings researcher helped to develop a new program to increase smoking cessation efforts in 1,500 national cancer centers.

AMA president visits: Gerald Harmon, M.D., president of the American Medical Association and an MUSC graduate, returned to Charleston for Alumni Reunion Weekend.