A President's Perspective – March 2022

Dear MUSC family,

Well, pollen season is here (and no, the yellow on your windshield is not precipitated COVID virus) which means spring has sprung and we are successfully moving away from our most recent “COVID-winter.” Cases are down overall; hospitalizations are way down across the health system and our vaccination rates are high across the enterprise. Our teams continue to monitor the virus and its ever-evolving impact, and like you, my hope is that we are finally approaching a sustainable balance where we learn to live with COVID, much like we have with flu. I believe our keys to success moving forward will be accurate predictive monitoring and having the ability to flex our safeguards up or down as needed. As we celebrate the rebirth of spring, I wanted to again offer my gratitude for the incredible work and positivity you continue to demonstrate in the execution of our mission during these unprecedented times.

Seasonal weather is often used as a metaphor for all kinds of transformation. Following that thought, MUSC is entering a new season as an organization through our OneMUSC strategic plan and in 2024, recognition of our first 200 years of existence.

Laying the groundwork for our year-long bicentennial celebration, MUSC 1824 - 2024: Then. Now. Next., is underway. We certainly have some time before the big year arrives, but I wanted to give you a quick update on where we are with our planning. From major fundraising initiatives and commemorative merchandise to collections of oral histories and art installations, individuals from across MUSC are engaged in ongoing preparation for this momentous celebration through steering and sub-committee membership. This represents a unique opportunity to tell our story and celebrate the MUSC family. We’re really looking forward to recognizing how far we’ve come as an organization and where we are headed as we continue to transform health care in South Carolina.

Yours in service,

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

Innovation in Action: In Our DNA SC

On Monday March 21, hopefully you had a chance to review the enterprisewide email related to our statewide press briefing about a first-of-its-kind in South Carolina community health research program, called In Our DNA SC.

This large-scale genomics research program is designed to improve health care outcomes by integrating genetic insights into clinical care and research. The statewide initiative will enroll 100,000 patients in genetic testing over the next four years at no cost to patients.

Historically, genetic testing has numerous barriers to access, including cost, geographic location and availability within care provider settings. In Our DNA SC, with the help of MUSC’s clinical affiliates and partners, seeks to break down those barriers. Additionally, participants who consent to securely contribute their genetic data will help MUSC and Helix develop one of the largest genomic resources in the country that will be used to pioneer and further advance preventative patient care and research. At no time will the information be sold, shared or provided to third parties.

Enrollment in the In Our DNA SC program is now expanding to include MUSC employees and qualified South Carolinians over age 18. This spring, MUSC care providers and research teams will bring the simple saliva test to patients around the state through community events designed to enable convenient sample collection and a new pathway to better understand an individual’s health risks. Participants will also have the option to have a saliva test kit mailed directly to their home. Participants receiving a positive result for any of the tested health risks will be provided an opportunity to meet with an MUSC Health genetic counselor at no cost.

Innovation is our fuel at MUSC, it is our mojo. In my opinion, it is how we face the future, change the world. Not innovation for the sake of innovation, but transforming care delivery, health care education and research in ways that add value to the lives of South Carolinians. Embracing precision, or personalized, medicine is a necessary paradigm shift required to define new paths, new thinking, and new approaches that enable us to make substantive impact…to truly change what’s possible for those we all serve. It’ about getting away from the one-size-fits-all approach to treatment for medical conditions. Ultimately, it will enable patients and providers to learn more about how their genetic ‘fingerprint,’ can be understood and used to design the best disease prevention and treatment plans possible.

Respect in Action: Women’s History Month

Throughout the month of March, our teams all over the enterprise have been finding ways to celebrate the crucial and impactful contributions that women have made throughout our history at MUSC.

In keeping with this year’s national theme, “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read these stories which highlight some of the diverse women who make a difference at MUSC, every day.

Public Safety Stalwart
For 33 years, Major Dorothy Simmons has been a model of integrity, dependability, leadership and dedication within MUSC’s Department of Public Safety.

Nursing Innovation
In public health and school nursing, Kasey Jordan saw smart people stymied by the system. That led her to get her PhD and study innovation management.

Ambulatory Architect
As chief ambulatory officer, Alice Edwards is responsible for the operation of all 120 of the hospital’s outpatient clinics in the Charleston area.

Raising Awareness
If you don’t know the signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma, you’re a part of Tiffany Williams mission in life.

Making Invisible Visible
Dr. Edith Williams has made giving suffering women hope her life’s work, “making the invisible visible.”

Giving with Purpose

It’s been more than a month since Russia invaded Ukraine. The incredible accounts of bravery and patriotism on behalf of the Ukrainian people have captivated us, along with the devastating images of mass destruction, loss of human lives and lack of basic survival needs such as food and water in cities that are under siege.

This month, instead of focusing on an MUSC-driven philanthropic effort, I wanted to remind you of the following list of reputable nonprofit, charitable and humanitarian organizations that are experienced in disaster relief and have a presence in the country:
Save the Children (Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund)
Voices of Children
CARE (Ukrainian Crisis Fund)
The International Rescue Committee
International Committee of the Red Cross
International Medical Corps

As an institution, we will continue to stand united with the U.S. government and our fellow humans around the world in protest and resistance to this unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

From Kathy

Ugh, pollen. I’ve given up on trying to keep anything outside that sits still clean at this point. If anyone has any tips, I’m all ears. Seriously, though, I’m so glad that spring is here because that just means I’m that much closer to meeting our first grandbaby this summer!

As you know, supporting our students is one of my biggest passions at MUSC and part of that means supporting their passion to give back to the community. I’ve been learning more about our student-run, free clinic in the community, the MUSC CARES Medical Clinic. It’s an incredible service that these students and medical directors Drs. Cristin Swords Adams and Anita Ramsetty offer to the community, in the Charleston area, and through community events outside the Charleston area. Did you know that they are highly dependent on philanthropy and grants to keep the doors open for the most vulnerable in the community? Without those funds, the CARES clinic would cease to exist. It’s one of the many reasons I’m working to help support the clinic and, hopefully, grow the list of others who help it fulfill its mission annually.

Please take a few minutes to learn about the CARES clinic via their website and how you or others in your professional and personal lives might support their work.


Match Day 2022: More than 100 students from the College of Medicine’s graduating class participated in Match Day at Charleston Music Hall of Friday.

SU2C Grant: Hollings received its first Stand Up to Cancer grant that will make it part of a group addressing lung cancer disparities.

AMA President Visits: Dr. Gerald Harmon, president of the American Medical Association and an MUSC graduate, returned to Charleston for Alumni Weekend.

New Alzheimer's Target: In Alzheimer’s disease, fewer cells line the brain's smallest vessels, making them leaky. Blocking a protein stopped the leakage and improved memory in mice.

The Storm Before the Calm: New device being tested at MUSC is designed to calm the cytokine storm in patients with COVID-19 and kidney failure.

Making Waves: Vascular surgeons are using a device that uses sonic pressure waves to break up calcifications that are blocking blood vessels.

Pinnacle Award: SCBIO honors MUSC with Life Sciences Pinnacle Award for Organizational Contribution.

Caregiver Mental Health: An MUSC psychologist is working on an app to help parents deal with the mental health aftereffects of traumatic injury in children.

Seeing the Brain's Drains: A new non-invasive technique pioneered at MUSC provides a near-real-time view of the human brain’s waste-clearance vessels.

Promising Research: An MUSC Hollings Cancer Center study sheds light on better ways to prevent and treat colorectal cancer.