GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two of the nation’s most respected research institutions have closed their transaction that adds a Florida powerhouse meant to accelerate the pace of biomedical discoveries that benefit patients. Effective April 2, 2022, the Florida campus of Scripps Research is integrated with and will now be part of the University of Florida’s academic health center as The Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology.
The transaction between these two leading organizations — Scripps Florida with its stellar global reputation for biomedical research and UF Health, which has a wealth of clinical and biomedical research expertise ― results in a facility with the ability to translate biomedical discoveries into improved patient outcomes in Florida and around the world, leaders from both organizations said.
“For patients and scientists alike, this is a momentous day. When basic scientific discoveries move rapidly from the laboratory to the patient’s bedside, all of humanity sees a benefit,” said David R. Nelson, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. “Scripps Florida scientists have impeccable reputations in their fields. Bringing them into UF’s research and educational enterprise will nurture many scientific and clinical breakthroughs.”
Scripps Research, located in La Jolla, California, began working with the state of Florida in 2003 to establish a secondary campus in Jupiter. Since then, Scripps Florida researchers have been responsible for pioneering discoveries that have led to hundreds of patents and numerous spinoff companies. Their work has also been strongly funded: The approximately 45 Scripps Florida researchers comprise one of the state’s top National Institutes of Health-supported research centers. Discussions to integrate UF and the Scripps Florida campus began in mid-2021 and were formalized in November. Operations at the primary campus of Scripps Research are unaffected by the transition and the 175+ active faculty there continue to pursue critical scientific discovery and drug development.
“Our Jupiter campus has specialized resources that allow for drug discoveries that are more typically associated with the pharmaceutical sector and all of this happens in an academic, nonprofit setting,” said Patrick Griffin, Ph.D., scientific director and professor of molecular medicine for UF Scripps Biomedical Research. “Our new connection with the clinical and scientific expertise at UF Health provides an exceptional opportunity to accelerate scientific discoveries for the benefit of people who need them.”
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With the integration of the former Scripps Research campus into UF, The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute blends the clinical expertise of a top 5 public university with the creative energies of one of the world’s leading biomedical research organizations, Nelson said.
“Together, UF Health and The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute can more effectively fight disease threats, address lingering medical challenges and create new science education opportunities. Ultimately, that ensures generations of people in Florida and elsewhere have brighter, healthier futures,” Nelson said.
“The institute is poised to build on a strong legacy of innovation at the University of Florida and at Scripps Research, translating the art and science of discovery into enormous benefits for the state of Florida, the nation and the world,” said Mori Hosseini, UF Board of Trustees chair. “The amazing discoveries that I know will be coming from this team will bring hope and healing for millions of people.”
UF President Kent Fuchs said the integration of the institute into UF ushers in a new era of even more scientific collaborations that will also include other State University System institutions such as Florida International and Florida Atlantic universities. Recent collaborations between UF and FAU have included Alzheimer’s disease research and work on emerging drug abuse trends.
“I am truly excited by the prospect of the former Scripps Florida faculty joining UF. The breakthroughs that our combined efforts will bring about will exemplify one of our most important missions: Bringing science to bear on some of the world’s most pressing problems,” Fuchs said.
The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute will also build on Scripps Research’s longstanding commitment to training future generations of scientific researchers. The Florida branch of the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences continues to operate as part of the Scripps Research bicoastal graduate program, with ongoing support from UF Health. It has approximately 85 doctoral students taught by faculty members in Florida and operates in close collaboration with graduate school faculty at Scripps Research in California.
Additionally, the institute will launch a new program meant to nurture science careers among recent college graduates. The Postbaccalaureate Research and Education Program, or PREP, is a yearlong immersive research experience that gives recent bachelor’s degree recipients additional academic and laboratory skills in preparation for application to high-caliber, research-oriented Ph.D. programs. The deadline to apply to join the first PREP class is April 15.
The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute is maintaining its presence at the three-building, 30-acre Jupiter, Florida campus that was opened in 2009. Scientists there have joined the UF faculty while retaining an additional Scripps Research affiliate title.
The Scripps Florida-UF Health integration was facilitated by Dr. Herbert Wertheim, a UF alumnus, member of the Scripps Research Board of Directors and honorary chairman of UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.