Vol 9. Issue 7 / March 2, 2009
Opening Ceremonies Celebrate New Scripps Florida Biomedical Research Facilities
The Scripps Research Institute's leaders were joined by Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Palm Beach County commissioners February 26, 2009, to cut the ribbon officially opening Scripps Florida, the institute's 350,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art biomedical research facility in Jupiter.
Scripps Research President Richard A. Lerner and Lead Trustee John J. Moores, Governor Charlie Crist, Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Jeff Koons, and Commissioner Karen Marcus addressed some 800 Scripps Florida faculty, staff, supporters, and friends who gathered in front of the three new laboratory and administrative buildings that currently house close to 300 employees.
"This event marks a very significant milestone in the history and growth of The Scripps Research Institute," said Lerner. "The road has been long and sometimes bumpy, but today we all join together to celebrate the completion of this magnificent campus. We dedicate it to expanding biomedical research, educating and training future scientists and, ultimately, improving human health."
The ceremonies, which also included an appearance by the Jupiter High School Warriors Band and the William T. Dwyer High School Junior ROTC, were held underneath a large white tent in an area that, until just a few months ago, was filled with construction trailers. In another month, construction on an adjacent site will begin for the Max Planck Society's new facilities, drawn to Jupiter by the presence of Scripps Florida.
The Scripps Florida facilities themselves are remarkable for their architectural appeal with warm tropical colors and a striking sail-shaped spire atop the center building. The spire is an interpretation of the structure of DNA, the basic building block of life.
Three Days of Celebrations
The ribbon cutting at the new facilities is the first of three days of celebrations. On Friday, February 27, an all-day scientific symposium was held for Scripps Research faculty from both the Jupiter and La Jolla campuses and leading scientists from other Florida biomedical research organizations and universities. A number of Nobel laureates who serve on the Scripps Research Board of Scientific Governors attended or present papers on cellular biology, metabolism and aging, and molecular therapeutics.
Saturday, February 28th was devoted to science education activities for K-12 students of the Palm Beach County School District and their families. From 10 AM to 3 PM, participants visited half a dozen interactive booths dedicated to various aspects of biomedical research, including the human genome. In addition, laboratory tours and the opportunity to meet Scripps Florida scientists were available.
Development of Scripps Florida
Lerner originally announced plans to establish Scripps Florida in October 2003, after months of discussions with then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who was looking to expand the state's economic development in biotechnology. To date, total investment in Scripps Florida from the state and from Palm Beach County has been nearly $500 million, which is going toward construction of the new campus, recruitment of top scientists from around the world, and start-up costs plus salaries, benefits, and equipment through 2013.
Initial plans called for construction on a parcel of land made available by Palm Beach County in the western part of the county, but legal and other issues caused the county, in collaboration with Florida Atlantic University (FAU), to offer instead 30 acres of the FAU campus and an adjacent 70-acre property.
In 2005, the first laboratory building to temporarily house Scripps Florida researchers opened on the FAU campus, with a second "temporary" building added in 2006. Construction of the new Scripps Florida campus, adjacent to the temporary quarters, got under way in 2006. A three-month move-in process was completed in early 2009. The total cost of construction was $187 million, with the three state-of-the-art buildings completed on time and on budget. The two laboratory buildings vacated by Scripps Florida will now be used to house Max Planck Society scientists while their facilities are constructed next to Scripps Florida. Ultimately, these buildings will revert to FAU for science education.
The economic impact of Scripps Florida has already been significant. To date, Scripps Florida has been awarded more than $50 million in outside grants and filed more than 79 patent applications. According to the Governor's Office, over the next 15 years, Scripps Florida is projected to create 6,500 new jobs and generate about $1.6 billion in additional income to Floridians, while boosting the state's Gross Domestic Product by $3.2 billion.
Scripps Florida also maintains a significant education and outreach program to promote bioscience education and awareness throughout the State of Florida by advocating career opportunities in the biosciences for middle and high school students and undergraduates, assisting middle and high school teachers with bioscience education initiatives, and, for the public in general, fostering an understanding of the basic ties that exist between biomedical research and human health. Scripps Florida also trains PhD candidates in biology and chemistry.
Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu