USC in talks to acquire Scripps Research Institute

USC is exploring the possibility of acquiring or merging with The Scripps Research Institute, a private biomedical research organization based in La Jolla.

The institute boasts several Nobel laureates and has played a key role in the development of treatments for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

“The University of Southern California (USC) and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) are discussing the possibility of a relationship that would enhance the missions of both institutions,” Michael Marletta, President and Chief Executive Officer of TSRI, and Elizabeth Garrett, USC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs said in a joint statement on June 17. “TSRI and USC have a shared commitment to academic excellence that will result in meaningful breakthroughs to improve health and well-being.”

Carl Marziali, USC Assistant Vice President of Media Relations, told the Daily Trojan that there have been no new developments with the proposed merger since the statement was released.

A private research organization, TSRI receives the bulk of their funding through federal grants from the National Institutes for Health and contracts with pharmaceutical companies who benefit from their research.

With federal funding dwindling, the institute would need to receive major private donations to remain financially sound. A collaboration with USC would give TSRI access to ample funds from USC’s $6 billion fundraising campaign, $3 billion of which has already been raised.

The San Diego Union-Tribune, the paper that first broke the story, reported that many employees at TSRI are disgruntled by the news of the proposed merger.

In an email to Marletta, ten department chairs and a dean expressed their concern about the merger, saying it would negatively impact the culture of the institute.

“[TSRI] is a singular source of biomedical advances and commercial efforts for the common good,” they wrote. “This singular success is an outgrowth of the culture at Scripps that nurtures ideas, risk-taking and scientific entrepreneurship, and a strong sense of collaboration and collegiality. We believe that the proposed path with USC would destroy much of what has been built and what we and others in the community value so much.”