This academic year, Thomas Britt, a Trevillian Distinguished Professor of Psychology, is stepping into a new role as the Clemson University Campus Research Director for the Health Sciences Center (HSC) at Prisma Health.
The Health Sciences Center is a collaboration between Prisma Health (previously Greenville Health System), Clemson University, Furman University and University of South Carolina. Located on the Greenville Memorial Medical campus, this nationally-recognized center seeks to bridge the gap between academics, research, clinical practice and healthcare transformation in a way that is innovative, inter-institutional, inter-professional and interdisciplinary.
In this role, Britt will work with each HSC partner’s research director to enhance the health research mission of the HSC partners. Britt said he is looking forward to this opportunity to work with health researchers across the Upstate and to help build Clemson’s health research programs.
“This role provides the opportunity to step outside of my own research activities in order to facilitate meaningful health-related research across a broad spectrum of scientific and clinical fields,” Britt said.
His primary responsibility of building research collaboration between all the HSC partners, will have a specific focus on facilitating research between Clemson University researchers and clinical faculty from Prisma Health–Upstate.
“This increased collaboration should benefit both the Clemson researcher and the clinical faculty member by allowing the Clemson researcher to conduct health-related research in an applied setting that will have a positive impact on individuals,” Britt said. “It will allow the clinical faculty member to provide scientific support for novel interventions that may be applied beyond Prisma Health–Upstate.”
Britt expects these collaborations to continue to produce presentations at academic and practitioner-oriented conferences, publications in peer-reviewed journals and the submission of proposals for external funding.
Britt comes to this role after being involved with Clemson University School of Health Research for several years. Since January, Britt has served as a Clemson University School of Health Research Faculty Fellow in the Emergency Medicine Department at Prisma Health-Upstate. He has studied determinants of emergency physician burnout and resilience, as well as conducted research supporting the Enhancing the Practice of Medicine Initiative at Prisma Health Upstate. As part of these research projects he has collaborated with Prisma Health–Upstate clinical faculty, University of South Carolina School of Medicine Faculty and students, as well as personnel from the Transformative Health Institute.
Britt has also been involved in mentoring graduate students in the Industrial and Organizational Psychology doctoral program. His research and publications have focused on employee resilience in the face of work stressors and the determinants of individuals seeking treatment for mental health challenges. His prior research has been funded by multiple grants and contracts from the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community and NASA.
Prior to working at Clemson in 2000, he served as a research psychologist in the U.S. Army on active duty after earning his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Florida in 1994. He was stationed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR)-Heidelberg, Germany Unit and at the WRAIR in Forest Glenn, Maryland. In 1998, he received an honorable discharge as a Major, and spent a year at King College from 1999 to 2000.
Clemson Associate Vice President for Health Research and HSC Chief Science Officer Windsor Sherrill said these experiences will help Britt in his new role.
“Through his experience at Clemson, Tom has shown his commitment to our vision of expanding health research for Clemson and Prisma Health,” Sherrill said. “ We look forward to his success in his new role as Clemson University Campus Research Director for the Health Sciences Center to enhance the research mission of the HSC partners.”
Britt is replacing founding health research director and College of Business professor Larry Fredendall, who is stepping down to spend more time on his own research on understanding of how healthcare firms and providers can adapt management improvement programs to their own industry.
“Dr. Fredendall has been a key leader in the Clemson/Prisma relationship. Through research advocacy and innovation, Larry has laid an incredible foundation. We are indebted to him for our growth in collaborative health research,” Sherrill said.
Under his leadership, Fredendall said he has seen an increase in collaborative research across colleges and with Prisma Health and hopes to see that continue under Britt’s direction. Fredendall said there has been an increase in undergraduate involvement in healthcare research through creative inquiry classes such as those offered by Kevin Taaffe in industrial engineering and collaborative research across all of the colleges such as the College of Science has grown. He stated that one of the largest components of his role as the Clemson University Director for Health Sciences Center was to explain how collaborative research with Prisma Health practitioners could be operationalized with individual faculty.
“I am appreciative to the leadership of Prisma Health, which has supported the efforts of multiple Clemson faculty to become engaged in collaborative healthcare research,” Fredendall said.
Fredendall said that Britt’s experience will help him succeed in this new role and continue developing collaborative research with Prisma Health providers across all of Clemson’s colleges.
“Tom has demonstrated great ability to work with the Transformative Health Institute and build collaborations within Clemson,” Fredendall said. “He is ideally positioned to work closely with the associate research directors to develop and implement a plan to increase research between Prisma Health and Clemson.”
Britt will begin his first year in this role in August.
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