Vol 5. Issue 34 / November 7, 2005

Scripps Research and University of Florida Strengthen Collaborations

The Scripps Research Institute and The University of Florida (UF) are taking steps to streamline scientific collaborations, which have already resulted in investigations into topics such as breast cancer, memory loss, and blindness.

On October 21, Polly Murphy, senior vice president for business and scientific services at Scripps Research, and Win Phillips, University of Florida vice president for research, signed an agreement that reduces the time and paperwork required to share information. The result is a streamlined process intended to encourage and support research collaborations.

"Researchers at both UF and Scripps share a desire to explore opportunities for collaborative scientific relationships, building on their respective strengths," Murphy said. "UF brings to the table a broad expertise in the life sciences, and Scripps is developing a Florida-based, state-of-the-art infrastructure for biomedical research, creating opportunities for significant collaborations among scientists."

Research is not all that will be shared. Scripps Florida and UF have also agreed to collaborate on filing patents for jointly developed technologies and to share revenues from commercialized innovations.

"Each institution is obligated to protect its intellectual property," Phillips said, "but by agreeing on many of the details in advance, we can do that while simultaneously encouraging collaboration."

Several UF researchers had already established collaborations with colleagues at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, before Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature recruited the institute to develop a new campus in Palm Beach County. Now, as dozens of newly recruited scientists begin to relocate to Scripps Florida's temporary facilities in Jupiter and later to its planned 350,000-square-foot state-of-the-art biomedical research facility, UF and Scripps officials see many additional opportunities.

An example of current collaborations is the work of UF neuroscientist Leonid Moroz on the giant sea slug (Aplysia californica). Using the sea slug as a model to study the nervous system, Moroz is collaborating with Mark Gosink at Scripps Florida to develop a database of information regarding gene expression in individual cells involved in memory formation to help researchers advance their understanding of the nervous system's role in learning and memory.

UF ophthalmology Assistant Professor Shalesh Kaushal is collaborating with Jennifer Busby, associate director of the Scripps Florida Proteomics Program, on a project to study the structure of mutant proteins in the eye to identify potential treatments for retinal degenerative diseases.

UF surgical faculty William Cance and Elena Kurenova are working with Scripps Florida's translational research chief Patrick Griffin to identify new breast cancer therapies.

Researchers from both Florida campuses are sharing scientific resources—such as DNA sequencing equipment and animal care facilities—and developing educational collaborations that would enable graduate students and post-doctoral researchers to study in Gainesville and West Palm Beach.

"The ultimate beneficiaries of this collaborative relationship are the people whose lives will be improved by the new technologies developed by researchers from both campuses," said Phillips.


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"Researchers at both UF and Scripps share a desire to explore opportunities for collaborative scientific relationships, building on their respective strengths."

—Polly Murphy