December 2009

Jupiter Rising

Since that announcement, two other institutes, the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies— another one of Scripps’ San Diego neighbors— and Oregon Health and Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, have developed sites in nearby Port St. Lucie, and some clinical organizations also have expressed interest in helping Scripps Florida move its discoveries into community clinics.

Ron Davis
Ron Davis, who studies the molecular basis underlying memory formation using a variety of model systems, will direct Scripps’ department of neuroscience, one of five new research departments developed for the Orlando campus.

Scripps also has been hard at work on another mandate: to collaborate with state academics. As Orf notes, science education is a significant element of Scripps. “People tend to overlook this, because we don’t have undergraduates, but I always like to point out that we are Scripps dot edu. The institute definitely has an entrepreneurial bent, but we are foremost a research and academic institution.”

So, in addition to its own education efforts— like at the La Jolla campus, Scripps Florida offers graduate degrees in chemistry and biology— Scripps Florida has peer-to-peer collaborations and cooperation agreements (basically an agreement that whenever scientists from separate institutions talk to each other, lawyers don’t have to get in the way) with each major research university in Florida as well as internships and summer programs with local colleges and high schools.

“There is an amazing sense of community and collaborative spirit among the researchers here,” says Roy Smith, chairman of the metabolism and aging department, who admits he was initially skeptical before coming to Scripps because of the lack of scientific culture in the area, though he absolutely has no regrets now. “Everyone knows that we’re building something brand new and unique here, for ourselves and the state, and everyone is determined to make it work.”

Nick Zagorski ( is a science writer at ASBMB.

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