Salk Institute delays building $250 million science and tech center by three years

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla has unexpectedly delayed construction of a $250 million science and technology center by three years.

“We have substantial but finite financial resources and thus must prioritize how those resources are deployed with the aim of maximizing our ability to make high-impact scientific discoveries, both now and in the years to come,” Salk President Jerry Joyce said in a statement to faculty and staff.

Joyce added that the delay will not prevent the private biomedical institute from hiring new faculty and acquiring new technologies to augment its research.

The decision comes less than three years after Salk announced that Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan, would donate up to $100 million to help build the project as part of a larger capital campaign. The facility will be called the Jacobs Science and Technology Center.

Jacobs could not be reached for immediate comment about the delay.

The Salk Institute specializes in basic research, making discoveries that have helped other scientists develop cancer drugs such as Gleevec and Avastin. The institute has said it wants to get more directly involved in turning its own findings into drugs, as well as helping find ways to offset climate change.

In recent years, Salk has fared well overall in raising money. Hess Corp., a New York-based energy company, gave the institute $50 million last spring to look for ways to get plants to more effectively capture and store atmospheric carbon, considered a key to fighting global warming.

But there’s been talk in the local scientific community about whether Salk can raise the full $250 million it specifically needs for the new sci-tech center. Expansion has been a prickly subject there since the institute opened in the early 1960s.

There is considerable support for adding faculty and modernizing the institute’s research equipment.

Joyce said in his statement that the institute is on pace to raise $750 million by the time its current seven-year fundraising campaign ends in June 2026. ◆

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