The University of Florida (UF) has reached a milestone in its efforts to build a research facility in Orlando at the emerging Lake Nona Medical City. A ceremony marking the official signing of the agreements was held immediately preceding the formal dedication of Burnham Institute for Medical Research’s (Burnham) Lake Nona campus.
"As our scientists work with Burnham's to ultimately deliver therapies and cures to patients, the partnerships between UF, Burnham and other institutions are helping to create a new economic base for Florida -- a solid one grounded in science and research," said UF President Bernie Machen. "There's no way to lose with that combination." The UF Academic and Research Center at Lake Nona will house three major activities relating to the mission of the University: A unique Comprehensive Drug Development Center; the UF College of Pharmacy doctoral program in Pharmacy; and biomedical research laboratories.
“The University of Florida’s plans for Lake Nona provide a perfect complement to Burnham’s focus in Orlando,” said Dr. John Reed, President and CEO of Burnham. “Their drug development center is a logical extension of our work in drug discovery. Our mutual interest in the field of metabolomics will accelerate our progress and enhance the resources of both organizations.”
“Through this collaboration, UF and Burnham scientists expect to accelerate the pace of translational research in such fields as diabetes and aging, complementing each other’s strengths for the benefit of patients everywhere,” added Win Phillips, UF’s vice president for research.
In 2008, the Florida Legislature appropriated $6 million to begin planning for a $61 million, 100,000 square-foot biomedical research facility to be located at Lake Nona. The University of Florida facility will join the Orlando VA Medical Center, Nemours Children’s Hospital, MD Anderson Orlando Cancer Research Institute and the UCF College of Medicine at Lake Nona’s Medical City.
Rasesh Thakkar, Senior Managing Director of Tavistock Group, the developer of Lake Nona, said that finalizing the commitment of UF to locate in the Medical City added a special touch to the dedication of the Burnham facility. “When I look around Lake Nona Medical City, and see the partners who are building together, not just facilities, but the networks and collaborations that will provide the foundation for our progress in medical research, I am in awe of the growing sophistication in Orlando in this sector.”
Other high-profile partners in the Medical City are also enthusiastic about the newest member of the cluster. Dr. John Hitt, President of the University of Central Florida, which is building a health sciences campus at Lake Nona, commented that additional research facilities provide more opportunities for training and education. "UCF’s world-class scientists and researchers enthusiastically welcome our UF colleagues to Lake Nona Medical City. This partnership demonstrates the rich educational, research and economic opportunities the Medical City brings to our community,” said Hitt.