Tuesday, June 17, 2014

USC and Scripps: A Looming Scientific Hookup?

The University of Southern California (USC) and the Scripps Research Institute are engaged in talks that could involve a merger of their enterprises, a move apparently triggered by economic pressures and a desire for more scientific clout.
The institutions released a statement on the discussions today in the wake of the first report on the move, which was published on the San Diego U-T Web site yesterday. According to the Los Angeles Times this afternoon, the institutions did not specify their final goal or lay out a timetable.

A statement from both said that Scripps and USC are “discussing the possibility of a relationship that would enhance the missions of both institutions. TSRI(Scripps) and USC have a shared commitment to academic excellence that will result in meaningful breakthroughs to improve health and well-being.” 

Gary Robbins and Bradley Fikes broke the story late yesterday in the San Diego newspaper. They wrote that Scripps, which is based in La Jolla, Ca., has heavy reliance on federal research funding, which is stagnant and under great pressure. At the same time, USC, located roughly 130 miles north in Los Angeles, is eyeing the research capabilities of Scripps, which counts two Nobel Prize winners on its staff. 

Both enterprises have large stem cell research efforts. The California stem cell agency has given USC $105 million in 26 awards. Scripps has received $45 million in 19 awards. As expected in the early stages of such discussions, it is not clear how the two stem cell research efforts would be affected. 

Fikes at the U-T is blogging live about the latest reaction, comments and information on the talks.

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