In an unexpected announcement yesterday, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles revealed it may be acquiring or merging with the Scripps Research Institute. Scripps, a major nonprofit biomedical research hub based in San Diego, California, issued a joint statement with the university, telling U-T San Diego that they were “discussing the possibility of a relationship that would enhance the missions of both institutions.” The article cites anonymous sources who say funding woes at Scripps motivated the possible merger—namely, increasing competition for funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The biomedical research community expressed surprise over the announcement. Chemist and blogger Derek Lowe noted on In the Pipeline that such mergers are quite unusual and said the dwindling numbers of high-profile researchers at the institute were a sign of financial difficulties.
What a possible merger would mean for the Scripps satellite campus in Jupiter, Florida, is not yet clear. Former Florida congressman Mark Foley, who worked to recruit Scripps to the state, told The Palm Beach Post that he was “outraged” by the announcement, particularly after the state recently allocated $3 million to cover shortfalls in NIH’s contribution.