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

Medical University of South Carolina


Under President David J. Cole’s visionary leadership, MUSC is becoming a preeminent and innovative academic health system. Dr. Cole’s drive to transform health care, research and education elevates innovation to the center of MUSC’s culture and purpose.

As a physician-scientist, and active surgical oncologist, President Cole brings a unique perspective to his role. Since he began as president in 2014, he has led MUSC through a period of unprecedented transformation, both in scope and scale, leveraging its 17,000-employee base to position MUSC as the academic health care leader in South Carolina. This includes being ranked Best Hospital in South Carolina by U.S. News & World Report five years running as well as achieving national recognition by Forbes Magazine as a top employer and best employer for diversity.

Other transformational highlights under President Cole’s leadership include:
  • Developing MUSC into a statewide health system through strategic partnerships, purchasing four regional hospitals and other ancillary facilities, and achieving national leadership in telehealth services and programs as recognized by MUSC’s designation as one of only two centers of excellence in the United States.
  • Obtaining record research funding that positions MUSC as the leading research university in South Carolina and among the top 20% in the country for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.
  • Constructing and opening of the state-of-the-art MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion supported by a record-breaking $150 million-dollar fund raising effort.
  • Establishing unique worldwide partnerships with Siemens Healthineers and Medtronic, two of the largest global leaders in the medical device field, to drive health care transformation and develop a statewide knowledge-based economy.
  • Spearheading the Charleston Medical District in partnership with the City of Charleston, Roper Hospital and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center to address common issues such as flood mitigation and use of green space.

During his 25 years with MUSC, Dr. Cole has served in numerous institutional and national leadership positions, leading up to his appointment as president of MUSC. These included serving as chairman of the MUSC Department of Surgery, president of MUSC Physicians, president of the Southeastern Surgical Congress and a member of an NIH study section for more than a decade. In addition to his clinical expertise as a nationally recognized surgical oncologist, Dr. Cole brings a strong tumor immunology research background. With more than 17 years of continuous funding by the NIH, he initiated and helped to build MUSC’s highly regarded immunology research program.

A native of New Mexico, Dr. Cole attended New Mexico State University, was a Rhodes scholarship finalist, and earned his medical degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He completed his surgical residency at Emory University affiliated hospitals in Atlanta, Georgia, and his fellowship in surgical oncology at the NIH and National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Cole is an Eagle Scout, who loves the outdoors, cycling and woodworking. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Kathy, and their three adult children. Kathy spends much of her time volunteering at MUSC and across the state of South Carolina. She has a passion for students and for children’s health, which stems from her background as a former pediatric oncology nurse at an academic health care center. Read more about Kathy Cole.

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