University asks State for funds

FAMU has asked the Legislature for more than $1 million in funding for Scripps Research Institute and distance learning in partnership with the University of Florida and North Florida Community College.

Scripps Research Institute focuses on biomedical research, technology development and drug design.

“It would create a new avenue for research, training and create clinical research opportunities,” said Henry Lewis III, dean of FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Ultimately, the collaboration would create job opporunities for health-care professionals, Lewis said.

Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee, said it’s hard to say what projects purposed to the Florida Legislature will get funding.

There are 160 members of the assembly and they all have member projects, according to Richardson.

Earlier, Gov. Jeb Bush touted Scripps’ move to Florida as a boost to its economy, which could help the University improve its odds.

“Given that we have tied this to Scripps research, there is a greater likelihood it will receive funding,” Richardson said.

SRI President Richard Lerner, stated in a company newsletter that expanding its research from its offices in California to Florida should have a tremendous impact on biotechnology and the economy.

“The extension of Scripps activities will increase the scope and depth of significant research in biomedical science,” Lerner said.

The expansion is expected to boost Florida’s economic development in biomedicine, technology and drug design.

In California, approximately 40 companies have grown out of Scripps research and technology developments, according to the newsletter.

FAMU is also seeking to partner with NFCC in Madison to create a distance – learning program. To build the partnership, NFCC has asked the Legislature for $495,000. FAMU and University of Florida would join with NFCC to provide distance education for NFCC horticulture students.

“Horticulture in Florida is a $10-billion industry,” said Gerri Bucher, director of government relations at NFCC.

Bucher said the Legislative funding would pay for new interactive technology so horticulture students and professionals seeking continuing education will have access to courses from various locations statewide.

In addition to the distance education via the Web and video teleconferencing, the money would also be used for curriculum development and equipment.

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