The University of Southern California is in talks to form a relationship with the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, USC and Scripps said Tuesday in a joint statement.

The two parties could enter into an agreement "that would enhance the missions of both institutions,” the statement said. “TSRI and USC have a shared commitment to academic excellence that will result in meaningful breakthroughs to improve health and well-being.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper reported that the relationship could go as far as USC acquiring Scripps. The Los Angeles Times characterized the potential relationship as an affiliation.

The discussions appear to be an effort from Scripps, known for pioneering biomedical research, to shore up financing as funding from the National Institutes of Health has become tighter. USC has an endowment of $3.9 billion.