Biotech data dive: Scripps Research Institute posts lowest revenue in years

Scripps Florida labs in Jupiter (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

It’s been a rocky few years for the Scripps Research Institute, the prestigious nonprofit that’s the cornerstone of Florida’s billion-dollar bet on biotech.

Federal grants have hit a plateau, big donations have proven elusive and there’s been a revolving door in the CEO’s office. The turmoil is reflected in the Scripps Research Institute’s revenues: They totaled just $362.5 million in 2015, the lowest level in years, according to a freshly released tax return.

UPDATE: Scripps’ 2015 revenue was the lowest since 2004, although after adjusting for inflation, that year’s total of $332 million still tops 2015’s total. So in real dollars, 2015 was the worst year for Scripps since 2003’s revenue of $262 million.

Scripps also disclosed on the tax return that it paid former President Michael Marletta nearly $1.9 million in 2015. He was the architect of a proposed merger with the University of Southern California that spurred a faculty revolt.

San Diego-based Scripps doesn’t break out separate figures for its Scripps Florida operation in Jupiter. On the bright side, Scripps Florida brought in a record $40 million in National Institutes of Health grants in 2016, according to Palm Beach Post research.

The top-paid researchers on the Florida campus were chemist William Roush, paid $482,410, and aging expert Roy Smith, who made $465,653 in 2015, according to Scripps’ tax return.

At Palm Beach County’s other biotech institute, Max Planck Florida, revenue jumped to $25.4 million in 2015, up 39 percent from 2014. But at the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, revenue plunged to $10.6 million in 2015, down 65 percent from 2014. Port St. Lucie’s other publicly funded lab, VGTI Florida, went broke.

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