Scripps and USC consider union, for money and prestige

Last week, the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, the world's largest independent biomedical research institution, confirmed that it is in merger talks with the University of Southern California (USC). The move could bolster the university's scientific prestige and shore up Scripps's finances, which have taken a hit from declining federal revenue and the expiration of deals with pharmaceutical companies. Scripps officials insist that no deal is imminent, however, and researchers there are already protesting—a leaked e-mail from Scripps's faculty chairs to its president warns 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." Outsiders say that the possible marriage illustrates the tough times facing independent institutes that rely primarily on federal grants for support.

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