JUPITER, Fla. — Scripps Biomedical Research Institute has received a $100 million grant, the largest amount by a single donor for the University of Florida and six months after the private institute was acquired by the public school.
Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation made the grant in an announcement Wednesday. The campus will be called the Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology.
The grant is part of a $1 billion public-private partnership in an effort to drive the future of biomedical research and innovation.
"The Wertheim lead gift will serve as a potent catalyst for continued growth and scientific and clinical discovery,” Dr. David R. Nelson, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health said in a news release. “The scientists at UF Scripps are world-class experts who have noticeably expanded our research and educational enterprise. Our shared vision with Dr. Wertheim is to invest in these standout faculty and set our sights on ‘moonshot’ projects with the potential to bring forth new medicines, therapies or treatments for today’s most challenging diseases."
Dr. Wertheim, a UF alumnus, scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and member of the Board of Directors of Scripps Research, was involved in the integration of UF Scripps with UF Health.
The Wertheim Family Foundation has been active for 50 years.
In 2015, he and his wife, Nicole, committed $50 million to launch a $300 million public-private initiative for UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. The school is named after him.
“This historic gift is a testament to Dr. Wertheim’s extraordinary philanthropic vision and his belief in UF and UF Health’s boundary-breaking work to accelerate scientific discovery for the health, welfare and benefit of all those we serve,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “Together, we will not only strengthen the clinical expertise of our top 5 public university, we will shape a culture of inspiration where future generations of scientists can marshal their creative energies in pursuit of scientific and clinical breakthroughs.”
Since its opening in 2009, the campus has produced more than $3.2 billion in economic impact, according to a 2021 study cited by the university.
In 2003, the state of Florida paid California-based Scripps $310 million for a campus adjacent to Florida Atlantic University in Abacoa to entice biotech firms. Palm Beach County added $269 million.
Then-Gov. Jeb Bush had envisioned 50,000 jobs in 15 years. Though the goal has not been met, Max Planck has a campus nearby.
The Scripps campus includes 30 acres that house 360,000 square feet of research facilities, offices and classrooms and an adjacent 70-acre tract of land. The site has 500 employees, which became members of UF Health Science Center, known as UF Health and is based at the flagship campus in Gainesville.
Palm Beach County bought the vacant land for $70 million across from Scripps in Palm Beach Gardens with an intention of developing a "biotech village."
On Nov. 16, 2021, the merger was announced that paired private and public institutions. In July 2021, the two institutions announced they were in talks to merge.
For just $100, the University of Florida acquired Scripps Research Florida's assets.
Also as part of the agreement, Scripps gave UF $102.4 million in cash on hand, most of it committed to ongoing projects, minus $3 million for transition costs.
In August, 2021, county and West Palm Beach officials announced they're in talks with University of Florida leaders to build a campus for graduate students somewhere in the city.
UF was listed as one of the top five public research universities in the nation for the second year in a row, according to the 2023 Best Colleges rankings released last month by U.S. News & World Report.
This year, the university surpassed $1 billion in research spending for the first time, joining an exclusive group of about 15 public universities around the country.
Scripps has received nearly $50 million in National Institute of Health funding and over $67 million in total research funding, which includes industry support.
“I have had the privilege of watching firsthand UF’s growth into one of the nation’s best public universities, and the integration of UF Scripps with UF Health has advanced UF to the next plateau of success,” Dr. Wertheim, 83, said. “There is tremendous potential at this campus to recruit other world-class researchers and explore scientific possibilities that cannot be done elsewhere. I am proud to have my name connected to an initiative that will truly make life on Earth better for so many.”
Wertheim's philanthropic legacy includes the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science at University of California, Berkeley; the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University; and the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California, San Diego.
UF also has a partnership with Florida Atlantic University.
Scripps Research was founded near the current site in the La Jolla area of San Diego in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.
She and her half-brother E.W. Scripps created the E.W. Scripps Co. in 1878 as a chain of newspapers and now includes 61 television stations, including WPTV and WHDT.