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Sanford Burnham Takes Withdrawal Proposal To Governor

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Sanford Burnham Prebys received more than $350 million in economic incentives since 2006.

Leaders of a research organization that has been key to the growth of a medical research community in central Florida say the firm is now in talks with the governor's office about having the University of Florida take over its Orlando facility.

Officials with Sanford Burnham Prebys said in a statement released Monday that having its Orlando campus incorporated into the University of Florida will allow jobs and research to be preserved at the Orlando campus if it pulls out of central Florida.

“We are optimistic that once all of the information is reviewed and questions are answered, all involved will see the benefits of this proposal,” the statement said. “The proposal ensures that state funds will continue to be used for the purpose for which they were intended – to continue to expand biomedical research in the State of Florida.”

The La Jolla, California-based medical research enterprise has received more than $350 million in economic incentives since 2006. The economic incentives package was championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Hank Fishkind, an economist in Orlando, said Sanford Burnham's challenge is a drop in federal funding for research from the National Institutes of Health. But he said the impact of Burnham leaving should be softened by the University of Florida potentially taking over. 

“Burnham is not the only one," Fishkind said. “Most major research institutes like Burnham are having a very difficult financial time because there's been a major reduction in federal funding. Federal funding is the key amount of funding for all of these biomedical research groups. ... It's a federal problem. It's not something any of the local governments can solve.”