UF Health, Scripps Research open integration talks

UF and Scripps Research announced Thursday that they are in talks to integrate the Florida-based branch of Scripps Research with the research arm of UF’s academic health center.

The move is designed to marry the clinical and educational expertise of UF with one of the world’s premier biomedical research enterprises, according to a university press release.

Discussions have proceeded swiftly because UF is positioned to expand on Scripps Florida’s research to accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into clinical advances that improve outcomes for patients in the state and around the world, officials from both organizations said in a statement.

“Our shared vision for propelling biomedical research forward is based on the great mutual respect our two institutions have for each other,” said Dr. Peter Schultz, president and chief executive officer of Scripps Research, based in La Jolla, Calif. “We have built an outstanding research institute in Scripps Florida with generous support from the state and from local communities and we believe it will have its biggest impact on Florida and greatest opportunity for further growth as part of UF.”

Details of the agreement will be finalized over the next few months and will build on existing research collaborations UF has had with Scripps and the organizations’ complementary strengths, said Dr. David R. Nelson, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health.

Initial efforts include appointing key leadership positions. UF and Scripps Research plan to name Dr. Patrick Griffin to head the scientific arm of the new research endeavor. Griffin is currently chair of the department of molecular medicine at Scripps Florida and directs its Translational Research Institute.

The 30-acre Scripps Florida campus in Jupiter is situated within Palm Beach County’s innovation corridor and houses more than 40 faculty-led laboratories supported by a 500-member team dedicated to understanding an array of illnesses and seeking to generate effective treatments. Its research work has led to hundreds of patents and numerous spinoff companies. Scripps Florida has a robust research portfolio, with nearly $50 million in National Institutes of Health funding and over $67 million in total research funding, which includes industry support.

UF ranks among the top research-intensive public universities in the country, with research expenditures totaling more than $942 million during the past fiscal year.

Over time, the relationship will generate additional jobs, further catalyzing economic development, officials said. Other natural areas of collaboration could potentially include cancer, drug discovery, immunology and infectious disease, neuroscience (including Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related disorders), and structural biology and molecular medicine.

UF President Kent Fuchs said the deal opens the door to building off Scripps Research’s platform of excellence and teaming up with other State University System institutions such as Florida Atlantic and Florida International universities on various programs.

“This would be the next logical step, adding to the impact Scripps Research has already made in Florida,” Fuchs said. “They have been great stewards of the state’s investment in biotech, and we look forward to partnering on this next phase to add value and grow additional research and tech collaborations.”

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