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Science & Technology

Scripps Research Institute Ends Merger Talks With USC

The exterior of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla is shown in this undated photo.
Scripps Research Institute
The exterior of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla is shown in this undated photo.

The private Scripps Research Institute confirmed Wednesday it has ended talks aimed at merging with the University of Southern California or being acquired by the Los Angeles university.

"The current non-binding letter of intent on discussions about a broad partnership with (USC) has been terminated by mutual consent of both parties," according to a statement posted on the Scripps website.

The 100-word statement was attributed to Dick Gephardt, chair of the TSRI Board of Trustees, and Michael Marletta, president and CEO of TSRI.


"Representatives from The Scripps Research Institute's Board of Trustees, administration and faculty are in the process of coming together to analyze and discuss the strategic future of Scripps, reviewing a broad range of thoughtful alternatives to choose the best path forward for the institution," the statement said.

"We appreciate USC's spirit of collaboration and look forward to continuing joint research projects among our scientists."

U-T San Diego reported that Marletta had been criticized by the faculty for not broadly including researchers in discussions with USC.

The La Jolla-based nonprofit, which specializes in biomedical research, also has a satellite operation in Jupiter, Florida, where opposition to a merger also surfaced.

Mark Foley, a former congressman from West Palm Beach who helped recruit Scripps to Florida, noted that the state recently approved $3 million to make up for reduced grants from the National Institutes of Health to Scripps Florida.


"I am outraged by this announcement and find it unacceptable based on several factors, including a recent large state appropriation without any of Scripps' people even bothering to mention that negotiations have been ongoing for some time," Foley told The Palm Beach Post. "I think this deserves an investigation and a freezing of the state monies before a check is written."

The merger idea was seen as a way to rev up funding in the face of stiff competition for federal dollars and increasing pension and other costs.

The merger would have allowed the Scripps Research Institute to receive less of its $310 million annual operating budget from the National Institutes of Health, and would add to USC's prestigious life-science institutes.