Nutrition Research Consortium Sponsors Nutrition Research Forum

November 2, 2007

COLUMBIA, SC – November 1, 2007— More than 50 of the State’s top nutrition researchers ranging in specialties from physical activity, diabetes, and childhood obesity to cancer chemoprevention, dietary supplements and nutrigenomics, gather tomorrow (Friday, November 2) to focus on ways to improve nutrition and health for South Carolina’s residents. The event – the SC Nutrition Research Forum – is sponsored by the Nutrition Research Consortium (NRC), a collaborative representing the State’s three leading research universities and SCRA®.  The Forum will be held at the Columbia Conference Center, 169 Laurelhurst Avenue from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on Friday, November 2.

The day-long research forum features two nationally known speakers: Colonel Karl E. Friedl, Ph.D. — Director, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland and James Levine, M.D., Ph.D.  — Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, an expert on obesity.

“The Nutrition Research Consortium draws on the complementary strengths and resources of South Carolina’s three research universities and SCRA,” said Harris Pastides, Vice President for Research and Health Sciences at the University of South Carolina and Executive Director of the USC Research Foundation. Pastides also serves as chair of the NRC executive committee. “The key to success of this Consortium is collaboration – and this Forum demonstrates NRC’s dedication to foster nutrition research within the State.”

A panel of nutrition experts will serve to discuss CTSA initiatives: Kathleen Brady, Director, General Clinical Research Center and Medical University of South Carolina professor and Robert McKeown, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Director of the Health Sciences Research Core at the University of South Carolina. The panel will be moderated by Russell Pate, Ph.D. and Marilyn Laken, R.N., Ph.D. Dr. Laken is a Professor of Nursing and Medicine and Director of Special Initiatives at MUSC. Dr. Pate is a Professor of Exercise Science at the Arnold School of Public Health and Associate Vice President for Health Sciences at USC.

Researchers who attend the conference also have the opportunity to attend afternoon breakout sessions to share information on current research endeavors and discuss opportunities for forming multi-disciplinary research teams around common interests.

The Nutrition Research Consortium was established in 2003 as a statewide collaboration to foster innovative research and outreach in nutrition, health and disease prevention. Since then, Consortium members have submitted more than 16 collaborative grant applications (totaling approximately $29 million), and been awarded close to $8 million in grants and contracts. “The NRC is a testament to the power of collaboration,” said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney. “As all research awards — but particularly awards from the National Institute of Health, have gotten more difficult to capture, NRC has remained competitive – and successful in its target segments,” he said.

NRC researchers are working to address nutrition concerns that affect not only South Carolinians, but all Americans.  Recent grants include:

·         A $2.7 million National Institute of Health (NIH) grant to Dawn Wilson at University of South Carolina, Sara Griffin at Clemson University and Brent Egan at MUSC that aims to help SC residents become more physically active, reduce risk factors for chronic disease and gain better access to health care.

·         A collaborative NIH grant for $3.4 million promotes physical activity and healthy eating in AME churches.  Sara Wilcox at the University of South Carolina is working with food science specialist Marge Condrasky at Clemson University and Marilyn Laken at the Medical University of South Carolina.

·         In the cancer chemoprevention arena, NRC members Mike Wargovich  at MUSC and Feng Chen of Clemson are studying West African medicinal plants that may be used prevent cancer.

·         Clemson University was recently awarded $2 million for an endowed chair in nutrigenomics as part of collaborative proposal with USC and MUSC to establish a Center of Economic Excellence in Molecular Nutrition. Molecular nutrition is one of the most rapidly developing fields in nutritional science – and studies how nutrients interact with cell molecules. The Molecular Nutrition Center – using the strengths of the State’s three research universities – will conduct basic research to identify the genes related to obesity and how these genes can be suppressed by micronutrients.

·         Consortium members at USC, Clemson University and MUSC – along with several other partners – are involved in a nationwide study funded by the Department of Defense to help examine the factors that influence overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. The hope is that this research will result in fewer children and adults plagued with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other debilitating conditions that stem from obesity.

Among the many benefits the Consortium offers its members are ease of collaboration with other schools, grant and budget writing support, and funding support. Nine seed grants have been offered to collaborative research teams to help stimulate collaboration and increase the rate of grant application submissions. 

Along with today’s Forum, the Consortium has sponsored four annual Nutrition Research Summits since 2003, bringing together researchers from across South Carolina.


About the Nutrition Research Consortium (

In 2003, Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the University of South Carolina (USC), and SCRA® launched the Nutrition Research Consortium. This innovative program – a first in the State—has the potential to create a crucial mass and superior research capacity that will ultimately result in a healthier South Carolina. Today, more than 50 of the state’s nutrition scientists are participating in Consortium research and outreach activities.


About SCRA (

SCRA is a global leader in applied research and commercialization services with offices in Anderson, Charleston, and Columbia, South Carolina. SCRA collaborates to advance technology. SCRA provides technology-based solutions with assured outcomes to industry and government, and with the help of research universities like Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina.