UF, Scripps Florida complete integration

UF Health and Scripps Research announced the completion of an integration more than eight months in the making. The transaction aims to “accelerate the pace of biomedical discoveries that benefit patients,” according to a UF Health press release.

Effective Saturday, the Florida campus of Scripps Research is integrated with and will now be part of the University of Florida’s academic health center as UF Scripps Biomedical Research.

“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,” Dr. David R. Nelson, president of UF Health, said in a statement. “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.”

Last July the two organizations announced they were engaged in integration talks, which formalized in November. The transaction 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 in statements.

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, according to a UF Health press release, which said about 45 Scripps Florida researchers comprise one of the state’s top National Institutes of Health-supported research centers. The transaction does not affect operations at the primary campus of Scripps Research.

“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,” Dr. Patrick Griffin, scientific director and professor of molecular medicine for UF Scripps Biomedical Research, said in a statement. “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.”

Nelson predicted unique synergies between the two organizations.

“Together, UF Health and UF Scripps Biomedical Research can more effectively fight disease threats, address lingering medical challenges and create new science education opportunities,” he said. “Ultimately, that ensures generations of people in Florida and elsewhere have brighter, healthier futures.” 

The UF Health release said officials are working to bring additional prominent biomedical scientists to the faculty, along with more personnel with expertise in artificial intelligence and computational biology.

UF President Kent Fuchs said UF Scripps Biomedical Research 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,” Fuchs said in a statement. “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.” 

UF Health also announced that UF Scripps Biomedical Research will launch a new program to develop 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.

UF Scripps Biomedical Research is maintaining its presence at the 30-acre Jupiter, but its scientists have joined the UF faculty while retaining an additional Scripps Research affiliate title.

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