The money, most of which requires state approval, would be used to hire more neuroscience researchers and build a 68,000-square foot science research building. The campus already houses two biotech research giants, Scripps Florida and The Max Planck Society, as well as two science buildings that once served as the institutes' temporary homes.
FAU Provost Gary Perry said an expanded science presence at Jupiter could be a boon for Palm Beach County.
"We would be training more PhD students to be scientists, and it would give us more opportunities to cooperate with Scripps and Max Planck for potential drug discoveries," he said.
The biotech institutes have been researching ways to cure or treat people with various forms of cancer, heart disease, addiction, HIV and other ailments.
Interim President Dennis Crudele has allocated $1.7 million in this year's budget to add five to eight science faculty members and their support staff to the Jupiter campus. The university also moved five faculty members from the main Boca Raton campus to Jupiter earlier this year, housing them in an FAU building previously used as temporary space for Scripps and Max Planck.
The university's five-year capital budget includes a $14.65 million request in 2015 and $14.35 million in 2016 for a new Scripps science building. This would include research labs, teaching labs and classrooms, Perry said. The State University System's Board of Governors supported the plans in September, but it would be up to the state Legislature to decide whether to fund the project.
Perry said FAU decided to wait until 2015 to ask the Legislature for the money because it already has two other requests in for 2014, including $10 million to remodel an engineering classroom building in Boca Raton and $4 million to help FAU pay off debt on one of the existing Jupiter buildings.
FAU had great hopes to become a biotech leader a decade ago when The Scripps Research Institute, based in La Jolla, Calif., announced plans to locate its Florida operations on the Jupiter campus.
But the campus, best known for housing an undergraduate honors college, had few FAU scientists on campus, and had little money to add them because of state budget cuts, Perry said. But this year, the Legislature increased funding.
The leader of Scripps Florida said she is excited by FAU's vision for the Jupiter campus.
"We strongly support a thriving biomedical research community in Jupiter, so any FAU research expansion would be all to the good," said Dawn Johnson, senior director of scientific operations for the Scripps Florida campus.
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