On a Quest to Improve Human Health
In 2004, Florida and Palm Beach County established a life sciences research corridor anchored by a newly created branch of the renowned Scripps Research institute.
Over the next decade and a half, Scripps Research Florida attracted other world-class neighbors, including a branch of Germany’s Max Planck institutes, and matured into a world-class biomedical research institute. Today, almost 50 principal investigators, supported by a staff of about 400, make groundbreaking discoveries in neuroscience, virology, chemistry and drug discovery, among other areas.
Complementing the beautiful campus’ three buildings, a state-of-the-art molecular imaging center was added in 2020 and equipped with cryo-electron microscopy, establishing a mecca for scientists throughout the Southeast. And, following the award of an historic collection of hundreds of thousands of microbial natural product strains, the institute created the Natural Products Discovery Center where scientists mine the collection for new compounds to treat human disease.
Exemplifying a culture that prizes entrepreneurship, scientists here have spun off new Florida-based companies at a rate of about one per year, each aimed at accelerating the development of innovative medicines. A 2021 study showed that Scripps’ Florida campus produced more than $3.2 billion in economic impact in its first 17 years of operation, not including capital investment in the spinoff companies.
As a thriving biomedical research campus with a track record of driving science in exciting new directions, the Scripps campus in Palm Beach County was an ideal candidate to join the the University of Florida’s academic health center, UF Health. As some of the world’s leading biomedical researchers and innovators join together, the quest to improve human health through the investigation of fundamental biology and the pursuit of novel therapeutics for unmet medical needs will accelerate, for the benefit of all.
To biomedical researchers, the sculpture in front of UF Scripps represents an antibody’s molecular structure, as seen under an electron microscope.
It also highlights founder Dr. Richard Lerner’s massive scientific contributions in unlocking the potential for antibodies to be used as therapeutics for a wide array of diseases with few treatment options.
Today, the use of antibodies as medicines is routine, providing healing for a variety of conditions, especially cancer and autoimmune disease.
Dr. Lerner’s vision and leadership helped bring the UF Scripps campus to life. Through his energy and enthusiasm for discovery, Dr. Lerner attracted great scientists such as Professor Weissmann to help launch something new in biomedical research, a place where independent, creative thinkers could attempt bold scientific projects in pursuit of treatments for unmet medical needs. They, in turn, helped recruit other top-tier scientists to Jupiter, Florida, thereby establishing the site as biomedical research magnet for scientists working at the forefront of their fields.
Today, researchers who not only probe and discover basic biology and the causes of disease, but also search for and advance potential treatments, are proud to continue Dr. Lerner and Dr. Weissmann’s legacy.
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