The University of Florida announced Wednesday that the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation has donated $100 million, making it the largest gift from an individual donor in university history.
This lead gift will launch a 10-year, $1 billion public-private partnership for UF Scripps and its biomedical research at the Jupiter campus.
The Wertheim donation will help strengthen the university’s research capabilities and create a nerve center for biomedical discovery at the UF Scripps campus. The gift will also support the continued development of more than 100 acres — a 30-acre campus situated within Palm Beach County’s innovation corridor that houses 360,000 square feet of research facilities, offices and classrooms and an adjacent 70-acre tract of land.
In recognition of this donation, the campus will be named the Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
UF was listed as one of the nation’s top 5 public research universities for the second year in a row, according to the 2023 Best Colleges rankings released last month by U.S. News & World Report. The university also surpassed $1 billion in research spending for the first time in 2022, joining an exclusive group of about 15 public universities around the country to reach that mark.
“The Wertheim lead gift will serve as a potent catalyst for continued growth and scientific and clinical discovery,” said Dr. David R. Nelson, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health, in the press 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. Thanks to our recent alliance with Jupiter Medical Center, we will be well-positioned to translate research advances into clinical breakthroughs that better the lives of our patients and communities.”
Wertheim, a UF alumnus, scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and member of the Board of Directors of Scripps Research, helped facilitate the integration of UF Scripps with UF Health. He was the first to discover and produce ultraviolet light dye absorbers for eyeglass lenses that have helped millions of people avoid cataracts, retinal deterioration and other eye diseases.
He is the founder and CEO of Brain Power Incorporated®, or BPI®, the world’s largest manufacturer of ophthalmic instruments, cosmetic and therapeutic tints for eyeglass lenses, and diagnostic products for optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians and optical laboratories. He was awarded the Horatio Alger Award in 2011, which symbolizes personal initiative, perseverance and leadership and confers lifetime membership in the Horatio Alger Association.
“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,” Wertheim said in the press release. “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.”
UF Health has already signed a letter of intent with Jupiter Medical Center to develop plans to transform healthcare delivery, research and education in Palm Beach and Martin counties and other surrounding communities.