University of Florida gifted $100 million, making it the largest gift in its history

University of Florida — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Katherine Welles

The University of Florida has announced that it has received a gift of $100 million from the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation. The donation, the biggest from an individual in UF’s history, will be used to advance the University of Florida (UF) Scripps biomedical research campus. The building is located in Jupiter, Florida, and formally joined the University of Florida in early 2022.

In honor of the contribution, the Scripps campus will now be formally known as the Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology.

The Wertheim contribution launches a $1 billion public-private partnership that will last 10 years and be led by UF Scripps. It is anticipated that the University of Florida and other philanthropic partners would provide further funding.

UF has plans to convene an interdisciplinary community of skilled researchers from several institutions, including Florida International University (FIU), Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Scripps Research in California, the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience in Jupiter, and other regional laboratories, clinics, and hospitals.

According to the university’s press release, the initiative will focus on “amplifying fundamental science, driving research that translates profound discoveries from bench to bedside to business, training the next generation of innovators and investigators, and improving the health outcomes and experiences of countless patients and families in Palm Beach County, throughout Florida and across the nation.”

The Wertheim donation will allow for the development of more than 100 acres, including a 30-acre campus in the innovation corridor of Palm Beach County, with 360,000 square feet of research facilities, offices, and classrooms, as well as a 70-acre parcel of land nearby.

“This historic gift is a testament to Dr. Wertheim’s extraordinary philanthropic vision and his belief in UF and UF Health’s boundary-breaking work to accelerate scientific discovery for the health, welfare and benefit of all those we serve,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “Together, we will not only strengthen the clinical expertise of our top 5 public university, we will shape a culture of inspiration where future generations of scientists can marshal their creative energies in pursuit of scientific and clinical breakthroughs.”

Fuchs added, “The University of Florida community is excited to deepen our partnership with Dr. Wertheim and apply his transformational gift to our shared work in Jupiter. The Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology will be a nucleus of growth, discovery and advancement for our university — and our world — for generations to come.”

Dr. Herbert Wertheim graduated from the University of Florida. He is the founder and CEO of Brain Power Incorporated (BPI), a producer of ophthalmic instruments, cosmetic and therapeutic tints for eyeglass lenses, and diagnostic products for optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians, and optical laboratories. He is also an optometrist, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist.

He and his wife, Nicole, committed $50 million for a $300 million public-private investment at the University of Florida’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, supporting the development of the Herbert Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence.

“I have had the privilege of watching firsthand UF’s growth into one of the nation’s best public universities, and the integration of UF Scripps with UF Health has advanced UF to the next plateau of success,” Dr. Wertheim said. “There is tremendous potential at this campus to recruit other world-class researchers and explore scientific possibilities that cannot be done elsewhere. I am proud to have my name connected to an initiative that will truly make life on Earth better for so many.”

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