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Scripps Florida, University of Florida integrate biomedical research operations

Research center located on 30 acres across from FAU in Jupiter
Scripps Research
Posted at 10:00 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 23:53:47-05

JUPITER — Scripps Research has finalized the integration of its biomedical operation in Jupiter with the University of Florida's academic health center's academic health research center in Gainesville in a relationship that pairs private and public institutions.

The operational transition will begin this week, Scripps and UF said in a join news release Tuesday.

In July, the two institutions announced they were in talks to merge.

In the agreement, Scripps will transfer all assets associated with the 30-acre Scripps Florida, situated within Palm Beach County’s innovation corridor. This includes property, buildings, equipment and adjacent 70-acre tract.

The campus, which is considered one of the top National Institutes of Health-supported research centers in the state, includes more than 40 faculty-led laboratories supported by a 500-member team researching illnesses and develop effective treatments.

“We are excited to work collaboratively with our colleagues at Scripps to rapidly take discoveries made at the bench to the bedside, where they can have the most benefit to humanity,” said Dr. David R. Nelson, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health, the university’s academic health center. “We are looking forward to cultivating a culture of innovation that will extend from the outstanding science already underway.”

The goal of the intregation, according to officials from both organizations, is "to build on the excellent scientific work taking place to more expediently unlock clinical advances that improve outcomes for patients in the state and around the world,."

UF and UF Health have committed to work with Scripps Florida leadership over the next five years to hire additional faculty in Jupiter.

“I would like to thank our Board member Dr. Herbert Wertheim on behalf of Scripps Research for making this unique partnership possible for Scripps and the University of Florida by taking this opportunity directly to President Fuchs," said Dr. Peter Schultz, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Scripps Research, based in La Jolla, Calif. "Without his effort and commitment, this transfer would not be happening. This is truly an example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

Wertheim is a member of the Scripps Research Board of Directors, a UF alumnus, founding chair of UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and a longtime supporter of UF," Schultz said.

“Florida supported us in establishing a world-class institute, and Scripps Florida together with UF, as part of the greater Florida research and education community, will have a tremendous impact on scientific research and human health," Schultz added.

Areas of collaboration: cancer; drug discovery; immunology and infectious disease; neuroscience, including Alzheimer’s and other aging-related diseases, as well as autism, HIV/AIDS, and structural biology and molecular medicine.

Scripps Florida researchers' discoveries have led to several hundred patents and numerous spinoff companies.

Scripps has received nearly $50 million in National Institute of Health funding and over $67 million in total research funding, which includes industry support.

UF has spent $942 million in research expenditures during the past fiscal year, including $143 million in NIH grants, which is tops in the state.

UF already has had research collaborations with Scripps.

Scripps announced in March one of its researchers, Dr. Michael Farzan, was in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccine that is broken down to powder, shipped to delivery sites without refrigeration and mixed with water before injecting individuals.

As part of the arrangement, a site director and local leadership council will be appointed for the entity, which will be organized and operated independently and report to Nelson. Scripps scientists will join the UF faculty and also will retain an additional Scripps title.

“This integration between the University of Florida and Scripps Florida will create unprecedented collaboration among some of the world’s most brilliant and talented minds to address the biggest biomedical challenges we face today,” said Mori Hosseini, UF Board of Trustees chairman. “Not only will this produce enormous scientific and health-related advancements for the entire world, it also will lead to tremendous economic development and further elevated national and global stature for the state of Florida.

UF President Kent Fuchs said he hopes this integration will lead to new scientific and tech collaborations with others, including Florida Atlantic and Florida International universities.

“With our deep faculty benches at UF, UF Health and Scripps — along with our combined resources and impressive research capacity — I fully expect we will see absolutely remarkable discoveries in the years to come that will benefit the state, the nation and the world,” Fuchs said.

The University of Florida and FAU also collaborated on the NIH-funded National Drug Early Warning System coordinating center to identify emerging drug abuse trends

In 2003, Scripps expanded to Florida a campus adjacent to FAU.

Florida paid Scripps $310 million to open a Florida lab in an effort to entice biotech firms to the state, and 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 Florida Institute for Neuroscience later came to Jupiter.

In addition, Palm Beach County bought 70 acres of vacant land for $70 million across from Scripps in Palm Beach Gardens with an intention of developing a "biotech village."

Scripps has been leasing the land, known as the Briger tract, for $1 per year and an option to have the deed transferred to the biotech company. The property hasn't been developed and other portions of the Briger property have been sold for commercial and resident development, according to the Palm Beach Post.