Burnham Institute

Posted by on October 2, 2008 at 11:01 am.
Guest Post by:
Mike Schmitt, MD
Life Science Analyst and Editor of the Florida BioDatabase
Mike can be reached at [email protected]
As a follow up to last week’s post (Neurodegenerative Disease Treatment) I wanted to mention that the meeting gave me a chance to meet some of the Florida Burnham staff and get acquainted with the Institute’s activities in Central Florida.

One of the first people that I met at the conference was Greg Roth, Ph.D., director of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology.  If Greg is any indication of the Burnham staff, then the Institute is off to an excellent start.  Greg is bright and outgoing and makes you feel instantly at ease.  It also turned out that we had some “geography” in common as we both have connections to western upstate New York.

For those of you not familiar with the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (www.burnham.org), it is a world class research center originally based out of La Jolla, California with over 600 scientists on staff on the west coast. (Yes, this is where the Scripps Institute is from as well…Florida is finally being discovered as a destination for activities other than Disney, fishing and swimming with the dolphins.)

Burnham is one of the top 10 research centers in receiving grant funding (ranked #4 in 2006) and was recently awarded a $97.9 M NIH grant to expand their Small-Molecule Screening and Discovery Center.

The Institute is committed to both basic science as well as translational research—which brings the results of scientific work done in the laboratory to be used to develop new ways to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases.

They are currently located in a temporary 14,000 square foot space in southwest Orlando, but plan to open a 175,000 square foot facility in mid-2009 in the Orlando Lake Nona medical research campus (located between the Orlando International Airport and the University of Central Florida in southeast Orlando). They are a key part of the expansion of the Florida life science industry as they will ultimately employ over 300 people in our State to be involved in various aspects of cutting edge biomedical research.

Some of this excitement is evident as the Burnham website (www.burnham.org) contains the following quote, “Prior to Burnham’s commitment, we had five or six inquiries from biomedical companies,” says John Fremstad, Vice President of Technology Development for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC). “We’ve had more than 100 since.”

For interested Gator fans, I also hear that UF will be doing a collaborative partnership with Burnham and hopes to have a presence on the Lake Nona campus.

It’s great to see that the State of Florida is continuing to establish its “life science” brand!

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