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Scripps Q&A

What is Scripps?

Times Staff Writer
Published October 19, 2003

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest private nonprofit biomedical research organizations. It is internationally recognized for its research into immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases and synthetic vaccine development.

How many employees does Scripps have?

About 3,000, including 288 principal investigators (three Nobel laureates), 15 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and 775 postdoctoral fellows.

How much of Scripps' funding is from the National Institutes of Health?

In fiscal year 2003, Scripps received nearly $205-million in NIH awards, making it the 25th-largest recipient. It ranks highest among research institutes in NIH funding.

What is Scripps' relationship with Novartis?

In 1994, Scripps signed a controversial 10-year agreement with the Swiss drugmaker, giving Novartis the right to license up to 47 percent of Scripps' inventions in return for $200-million or $20-million per year. Novartis also has built a multimillion-dollar, high-speed drug screening facility near Scripps' La Jolla, Calif., campus; it is headed by a Scripps scientist. Novartis' role in Scripps Florida is reportedly under discussion.

Would Scripps Florida be a clone of its California operation?

Scripps president Richard Lerner has said the Florida facility would focus on drug discovery, rather than pure scientific research, which is the focus of the California campus. The Florida operation would include high-speed drug screening equipment similar to that owned by Novartis in La Jolla.

How will Scripps work with Florida universities?

Scripps Florida will create a fully staffed, fully equipped drug design port that would allow open access for qualified researchers in Florida. These design ports will allow researchers to convert their findings into new drug discoveries. Scripps also would provide joint degree programs for all universities in Florida.

How would it attract other companies to the state?

Scripps says it would be a magnet for other research organizations and laboratories that would attract leading academics and professionals. This is expected to attract more companies, and Florida would attract coveted venture capital that will lead to startup companies. Gov. Jeb Bush expects "clusters" of businesses to spring up, just as companies and tourist attractions related to NASA and Disney have done. Venture capitalists, however, said spinoffs could be relocated if Florida has insufficient managerial talent.

Why did Scripps choose Florida?

A generous incentive package was offered by Gov. Bush, which the Legislature will consider in a special session starting Monday.

What is Florida offering?

The state is offering $310-million to pay for technology and the salaries of the company's Florida employees for seven years. Palm Beach County, where Scripps would locate, has offered up to $200-million, including money for land, a new building and a temporary headquarters.

Has this been done before?

Apparently not. Tax credits and public works projects are more typical incentives. State officials say this deal is unique.

What does Florida get?

Scripps is expected to generate $1.6-billion in additional income and boost Florida's gross domestic product by $3.3-billion over the next 15 years.

Would the state get any of its $310-million back?

Maybe. Draft legislation says Scripps eventually would repay up to half of the amount, or $155-million. It would return to the state up to 15 percent of a portion of its net income each year after 2011.

- Sources: Scripps Research Institute, Palm Beach Post.

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