October 4, 2022

Lab Work- Northeast- Oct. 2002

John Finotti | 10/1/2002
Twenty-eight years ago, Marineland founder Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney donated a marine science lab located next to his then-popular aquarium and park to the University of Florida. Whitney's intentions were twofold: He wanted a facility where researchers could study marine animals so that we could better understand ourselves; he also wanted a lab where his sick porpoises could be treated.

Through the years, despite the ups and downs and ownership changes at the Marineland park, Whitney Laboratory has thrived, its researchers turning out numerous breakthroughs in biomedical research. "It hasn't affected us," says Peter A.V. Anderson, the lab's director. "We've continued on the same course."

Now the 40-employee lab is looking to expand by adding a marine veterinary research facility and school. The Center for Marine Animal Health would be affiliated with UF's School of Veterinary Medicine. Anderson says Whitney Lab's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its extensive sea water system, which pumps ocean water through the research center, make it an ideal site. "A marine vet school doesn't exist anywhere," he says. "This would increase our understanding of marine diseases to the next level."

Moreover, Anderson says, there's a ready commercial market for such a facility, especially Florida's growing aquaculture industry. The estimated cost of building the Center for Marine Animal Health is $6.5 million. A feasibility study suggests the facility could generate annual revenue of about $10 million.

So far, however, the lab has yet to persuade the Legislature to fund the facility. Anderson says he will continue promoting the benefits of a marine vet school to lawmakers and the public.

The Whitney Lab also is pursuing the development of a $3-million educational resource center that would include teaching labs and an auditorium. Almost half of the money has been raised from private donations, with the balance expected to come from a state matching grant.

Meanwhile, scientists at Whitney Lab push on with their biomedical research. They observe lobsters to study how the nervous system detects and differentiates odors. They use the chemicals that activate the sting cells in jellyfish to study chemical pathways.

Barbara-Anne Battelle, an expert in the biochemistry of vision, has been studying horseshoe crabs at Whitney for the past 17 years. The crabs are ideal for the study of circadian (daily biological rhythm regulation because their eyes become 1 million times more sensitive at night. If researchers can understand how healthy and diseased photoreceptors work, it could lead to cures for blindness, Battelle says.


Gainesville -- Infinite Energy won a three-year, $17-million contract to supply natural gas to Cape Canaveral Air Station, John F. Kennedy Space Center and other Florida military bases.

Jacksonville -- Convergys Corp. signed a seven-year, $280-million deal with the state to handle outsourced human resource services, including benefits and payroll administration, recruiting and training. Convergys Employee Care, based in Jack-sonville, will provide the services.

Kaman Aerospace Corp., which makes airplane components, is stepping up its operations in Jacksonville. The company is adding 30,000 square feet to its current facility in north Jacksonville and is leasing an additional 130,000 square feet nearby. It also plans to boost employment from 50 to 250 in the near term and to as many as 540 over the next several years.

The City Council has agreed to pay $12 million of the $40 million in improvements slated for Alltel Stadium in advance of the 2005 Super Bowl. The Jacksonville Jaguars will pay $28 million.

Armor Holdings (NYSE-AH) plans to buy Sachsenring Fahrzeugbau of Bremen, Germany, for about $5.6 million. Sachsenring makes high-end armored vehicles for European, Asian and Middle Eastern customers. With the purchase, Armor gets a state-of-the-art, 300,000-sq.-ft. armoring facility in Bremen.

Burlington Coat Factory has moved into the former Waccamaw Home Place site in Old St. Augustine Road Plaza in Jacksonville's Mandarin area. The company will employ 100 at the location.

Haskell Co. is building three charter schools -- two in Kissimmee and one in Orlando -- worth $38 million.

The non-profit Ben Durham Business Center is the first incubator for minority-owned construction firms. For $230 a month, the center provides desk space, telephones, computer access and coaching on business plans, bids, resumes and finances.

Aetna plans to cut up to 100 jobs by the end of the year as part of a companywide restructuring. The insurer employs 2,200 in Jacksonville, its largest Florida operation.

TNT Logistics North America, based in Jacksonville, signed a six-year deal -- one of its largest -- to operate Michelin North America's 18 U.S. and Canadian tire distribution centers. TNT, a division of Holland-based TNT Post Group, will add 15 jobs in Jacksonville.

Raul Alfonso joined the Jacksonville Port Authority in the new post of Latin American sales director. Alfonso had been marketing director for Hutchison Port Holdings in the Bahamas since 1998 and formerly was in management for Port of Miami's intermodal division.

Marion County -- The Ocala City Council wants to cut off funding to the Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corp., saying it is not satisfied with the EDC. The EDC is requesting $145,000 for fiscal 2003, but the council is considering funding the group for just six more months. Council President Mike Amsden has suggested spending $145,000 for someone to bring new industry exclusively to Ocala.

Palatka -- Birmingham, Ala.-based Doster Construction plans to build a $2.3-million, 11,000-sq.-ft. ambulatory surgery facility at Putnam Medical Center.

Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE -- Winn-Dixie Stores (NYSE-WIN) has agreed to buy enough Jacksonville Jaguar tickets to ensure that all home games will be televised locally. The team has been strug-gling to sell tickets lately. Last season, empty seats in Alltel Stadium kept three of eight regular season home games off local TV ["Re-energizing Fans," September 2002, FloridaTrend.com]. The grocery chain has also pledged $1 million to sponsor the Super Bowl Host Committee.

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