A President's Perspective – March 2023

Hello, pollen my old friend… you’ve come to itch my eyes again…

Dear MUSC family,

We sit on the cusp of another South Carolina spring, as evidenced by the changing of our car colors to an ongoing state of yellow, the current surge in allergy medication consumption, and the increasing amount of yard work assigned to me each week.

Setting the pollen epidemic and Simon and Garfunkel song parody aside, this time of year brings so many annual activities related to our education mission – residency match days, studying for final exams, planning for summer research opportunities, Innovation Week, and commencement preparations, just to name a few. Next month MUSC will mark the achievement of a unique educational milestone that’s been decades in the making when we gather to celebrate the grand opening of the new College of Pharmacy, and the forward-thinking renovation of the Colbert Education Center and Library. From the support of our board of trustees and tireless efforts of the planning and implementation leadership teams, to the skilled tradespeople and builders who made the vision a reality, these first-class spaces serve as a symbol of MUSC’s commitment to enhancing and leading what’s possible in health care education. And to paraphrase a recent conversation with a couple of our students, “The new space is awesome!”

I hope you’ll join me in congratulating MUSC Provost Lisa Saladin, P.T., Ph.D., and College of Pharmacy Dean Philip Hall, Pharm.D., as well as their teams, our facilities and engineering employees and staff, and all of the additional individuals who battled supply chain hiccups, construction delays and weather emergencies to get us to this moment. I hope that these new and re-imagined facilities serve as a source of pride for every MUSC family member, near and far, and a testament to the tenacity of the MUSC spirit.

Yours in service,
David J. Cole, M.D., FACS
MUSC President

Values in Action

REMIDER! Tomorrow at noon, previous winners of the President’s Values in Action Awards will be commemorated when we unveil a special monument in their honor, located in the green space behind the Colbert Education Center and Library and near the Drug Discovery Building on the Charleston campus. As future award winners are named, they, too, will also be recognized as part of this permanent tribute to the outstanding people who go above and beyond in personifying MUSC’s five values: Collaboration, Compassion, Innovation, Integrity, and Respect.

This event is open to all members of the MUSC family to attend, and I hope to see many of you there in support of all the awardees from the past seven years. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about this recognition and rewards program and meet individuals from multiple facets of the enterprise.

Cut to the Chase

In this blog, my goal is to introduce you to Quantum, a strategic and unique enterprise wide growth initiative with the goal of enabling our ability to fully achieve our OneMUSC strategic plan. Success will take our tripartite mission to the next level in our pursuit of preeminence.

MUSC celebrates Women’s History Month

I hope you’ll take some time to read through these news articles that feature four remarkable MUSC women who represent some of the outstanding work taking place across our tripartite mission of patient care, research and education. Each year, MUSC celebrates the incalculable and impactful contributions of women in the health care domain as part of the national celebration of Women’s History Month.

Cortney Gensemer, Ph.D. (Research)
Jessica Johnson (MUSC Health)
Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., R.N. (College of Nursing)
Janice Key, M.D. (Pediatrics)

Innovation Week / Innovation Month

I’m pleased to share with you that not only will we engage in MUSC’s annual Innovation Week with activities and programming happening across the enterprise (Charleston, Florence, Marion, Lancaster, Chester and Columbia), but MUSC will also serve as one of three founding partners for a new, standing South Carolina Innovation Month enacted by gubernatorial proclamation on April 3.

At MUSC, innovation isn’t a buzz word we throw around to sound trendy – it’s our mojo. I encourage you to think about what innovation looks like from the perspective of your role at MUSC and to explore new ways to improve how we deliver on our mission throughout the month of April and beyond.

Professional Development: MUSC Leadership Institute

With so many new MUSC family members joining us during the last couple of years, I wanted to remind everyone of the excellent resource available for ongoing leadership development: The MUSC Leadership Institute.

Led by Elisha Brownfield, M.D., the institute strives to identify and develop emerging leaders, offer advanced skill set development for established leaders, and evaluate and fill gaps related to research-based leadership training. The applications process for the Advanced Leadership Program 2023-2024 is open now, and applications will be accepted through May 24.

Everyone has the opportunity to be a leader, and it takes each of us rowing the boat in the same direction to make a significant impact. It is not something that is inherited or granted. Consider these three concepts as they relate to your day-to-day role and work:

  1. “Choose to Be a Leader – Take Ownership and Feel Empowered to Do What Is Needed, When Needed.” Leadership is a daily, active choice. Each one of us in the MUSC family can make that choice.
  2. “Lead from Where You Are.” Each one of us can demonstrate leadership and have a positive influence on our local environment. Whether that means leading by example or providing courageous and consistent input on a complex issue, there are countless opportunities to step into the gaps and have meaningful impact.
  3. “Come Together for a Common Purpose.” We cannot move forward if we aren't rallied around a common purpose. For us, our vision is to lead health innovation for the lives we touch — to change the future for our patients, students and communities. We each play a part in making that vision come to life.

Thank you for your continued commitment to MUSC and for the tremendous leadership that is already occurring every day.



AI Sidekick: MUSC researchers show that AI can be used to help to identify liver cirrhosis in electronic health records.
Uterine Cancer: Using the power of bioinformatics, GI scientists turned cancer researchers find that elevated levels of molecular motor Myo5b are implicated in uterine cancer.
HIV Help: Innovative study tests trauma treatment for people with HIV to try to ensure they take medication, stay on healthy track.
Neuroblastoma Research: An MUSC Hollings Cancer Center team has created what members believe to be among the first small molecules designed to stimulate immune cells to fight cancer.
Raising Awareness: MUSC team finds an innovative way to reach more patients with clinical trials.


Mental Telehealth: At a time when mental health care has never been in higher demand, MUSC's mental Telehealth program PARTNER fills a critical gap for people in rural areas.
Addiction Treatment: When someone has an addiction-related health crisis, their time in the hospital can open door to treatment.
Reducing Kids' BMIs: Participation in school-based wellness initiative is associated with decline in average student BMI.
Orangeburg Celebration: “I'm thrilled that as a result of this new relationship, our community is going to have health care as it's so richly deserved.”
Newborn Sun Protection: MUSC medical students are providing sun protection for newborns.


TEDx 2023: Three of this year's TEDxCharleston speakers work for MUSC.
Surgeon Scientist: An MUSC Hollings Cancer Center doctor is one of only 12 chosen to participate in the National Cancer Institute’s Early-stage Surgeon Scientist Program.
Order of Palmetto: Diagnostic radiologist, educator honored with Governor’s Order of the Palmetto Award.
Colon Cancer: No one thought Ebony Holmes' symptoms could be cancer. Unfortunately, she's part of the trend of younger adults being diagnosed with colon cancer.