Federal grant awarded to study diseases of the nerves in SC

09/04/2014 12:00 AM

09/03/2014 8:43 PM

South Carolina has been awarded a $2.5 million federal grant to study muscular dystrophy in the state.

The grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide $500,000 a year over five years to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control and the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health to investigate the prevalence and burden of MD and other neuro-muscular disorders.

“This funding gives South Carolina a wonderful opportunity to investigate not only how many South Carolinians are affected by muscular dystrophy, which we do not currently know, but more importantly how access to medical care and the quality of the medical care received by these individuals and families might be improved state-wide,” said Michael Smith, maternal and child health epidemiologist with DHEC and director of its Division of Research and Planning.

The grant builds on a previous collaboration between USC and DHEC, said Suzanne McDermott, professor in USC’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

“Together, the health experts from the two organizations have the capacity to describe this rare, but important and costly condition, in South Carolina,” she said. “We are excited about joining a group of colleagues from around the country, to learn about muscular dystrophy.”

Muscular dystrophy is a group of more than 30 genetic diseases that cause muscle weakness and muscle loss, eventually resulting in the inability to walk, according to the National Institutes of Health. There is no cure.

And there is little data on the number of people affected, according to DHEC. The grant will fund the Muscular Dystrophy Surveillance, Tracking, and Research Network, or MD StarNet, which will focus on health care use and costs for those with MD as well as the association between treatments and outcomes.

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