The Governor’s Remarks

Thank you, Dr. Lerner.

I’m honored—and I’m humbled—to be here.

I must admit, I was little surprised when I heard that The Scripps Research Institute—one of the most esteemed scientific research facilities in the world—wanted to grant me an honorary degree.

My first reaction was to ask my good friend, Dr. Lerner, "Is this a special degree for the scientifically challenged?"

I mean, I’m probably the first degree holder in the history of this institution who’s ever received a "B-" in high school chemistry.

It's unnerving, being in a room with so much scientific genius.

I'm reminded of President Kennedy’s line to 49 Nobel laureates: "This is the most extraordinary collection of intellectual talent that has ever been gathered at the White House—with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

Looking at all of you, I can’t help but to wonder: why aren’t you all in my office working on how to generate more electricity?

It is a privilege to be here. The Scripps Institute is admired around the world as a crucible of creative thought. A force for medical progress. A place where dreams become reality.

The remarkable discoveries and inventions of the Scripps community are transforming the field of biomedical research:

  • From charting the atomic structure of deadly viruses.
  • To unlocking the mysteries of the human gene.
  • To discovering new ways to produce vaccines.
  • To designing powerful new anti-cancer agents.

For many of you, your contributions are just beginning.

In the years to come, you will make discoveries that allow Americans to live longer lives. That provide children with a safer and happier childhood. That erase the threat of disease from around the world.

Each one of you holds our future in your hands.

I recently read an article in the Union Tribune about a researcher at Scripps named Geoffrey Chang. It seems that Geoffrey could become the first person ever to map the outer proteins of cells to determine how cancer cells resist drug treatment. Apparently, he’s also a gifted musician. Now, that's a talented guy.

But here’s the amazing thing about Scripps. The extraordinary story of Geoffrey Chang is simply ordinary here. Because, at Scripps, inventing the future is an everyday occurrence.

Despite your astonishing breakthroughs, our work remains unfinished —and the health challenges we face become more complicated each day.

To you, I pledge the support of the State of California. Where we can help advance science and innovation, we’ll help. Where we can’t, we’ll get out of your way.

I believe we can fulfill the promise of this new age of possibility if we work together—with creativity and resolve.

Last year, I proposed one of the most ambitious scientific research initiatives ever undertaken.

I wanted to create not one, but three world-class centers of science and innovation. One-of-a-kind institutions. Where the best and the brightest come together to explore the next frontiers of scientific discovery.

If these Institutes sound familiar, they should. The mastermind behind them was none other than your President, Dr. Lerner.

To get these Institutes off the ground, I challenged the private sector to match our $300-million commitment, 2-to-1. They came back with a commitment of 3-to-1.

Soon, our Institutes of Science and Innovation will be a reality:

  • The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UC San Diego will focus on extending the reach and capability of the Internet.

  • The California Nanosystems Institute at UCLA will explore the vast power of innovation at the nanometer scale.

  • AND an Institute that I hope one day will be a source of great collaboration with Scripps - the Institute for Bioengineering, Biotechnology and Quantitative Biomedical Research at UC San Francisco.

Working together, Scripps and this new Institute will help keep California at the cutting edge of bio-tech innovation.

These Institutes are a public-private venture of unprecedented magnitude. And three good turns deserve a fourth.

At Dr. Lerner’s urging, I’ve included funding for a fourth Institute at UC Berkeley in this year’s budget.

Who knows what new breakthroughs will occur because of these Institutes? But this we do know: breakthroughs will occur. Thanks to Dr. Lerner, The Scripps Research Institute, and, now, these new Institutes, they'll occur right here in California.

To the graduates of the Class of 2001, I, too, offer my congratulations. I also offer my gratitude for your commitment, for challenges conquered, for projects completed, for goals reached and even surpassed.

You are the true heirs of California’s frontier spirit.

You are also at the peak of your powers and the world will rightly reward you for the work you do.

With success, however, comes responsibility.

Ultimately, you will be judged on how you use your good fortune to serve the health and welfare of humanity.

For decades, The Scripps Research Institute has brought intellect and imagination together to further the progress of human health.

Now, the future belongs to you—take good care of it. Thank you for this honor. God bless each and every one of you.



(Left to right) Jeffery Kelly, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies; California Governor Gray Davis; and K.C. Nicolaou, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of Chemistry.