MPFI, Max Planck Society, and FAU Sign Innovative Agreement

FAU and Max Planck have signed an innovative agreement to facilitate a research and education program that will recruit promising scientists to FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter.

Florida Atlantic University, the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) and the Max Planck Society based in Germany, have signed an innovative agreement to facilitate a research and education program that will recruit promising scientists to MPFI and FAU.

These early-career recruits will be exposed to career development opportunities typically available to more seasoned faculty, including tenure-track appointments at FAU, and have the opportunity to work on FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter, Fla. This new agreement adds to a previous one and is another big step for the FAU\MPFI burgeoning partnership as these new recruits will explore diverse approaches to understanding brain function including the neural basis of sensory processing, motor control and learning and memory.

This furthers FAU’s and MPFI’s ability to jointly apply for federal, state and private grant funding opportunities, expand academic programming and conduct collaborative research toward enabling discovery of better treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

“There is no limit to what we can accomplish in tandem with our partner Max Planck,” said FAU President John Kelly. “Together, we will recruit the best talent to our neurosciences hub on our Jupiter campus as we jointly address health issues that impact us globally.”

As part of the agreement, FAU and MPFI will develop recruitment processes and jointly select the FAU/MPFI new faculty members. The new recruits will have access to both FAU’s and MPFI’s scientific core facilities and cutting-edge equipment, including a state-of-the-art electron microscope housed at MPFI, which can only be found in a handful of places in North America.

“This is a one-of-a-kind program that will be based here in Florida at the only U.S. institute of the Max Planck Society,” said David Fitzpatrick, CEO of MPFI. “Max Planck Society will recruit promising scientists to work at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, and to ultimately have the opportunity to obtain tenure-track positions at FAU and to help train the next generation of neuroscientists.”

FAU and MPFI currently offer an integrative biology doctoral degree at FAU with an emphasis in neuroscience. The program, known as IBAN (Integrative Biology and Neuroscience), is based on FAU’s Jupiter campus. IBAN students explore cutting-edge questions in neuroscience through the integration of multiple disciplines, different model systems and a broad spectrum of technologies.

MPFI and FAU also are in collaboration with University of Bonn (Bonn, Germany), and the Center for Advanced European Studies and Research (Bonn, Germany), to globalize education in brain research with an all-new International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Brain & Behavior. This program, with North American headquarters in South Florida, offers its students a world class, competitive doctoral program while giving them the unique opportunity to learn, train and work in other countries.

Earlier this year, FAU, MPFI and The Scripps Research Institute announced plans to collaborate to create education programs to attract the best and brightest students to Palm Beach County and to strengthen the county’s position as a hub of scientific inquiry, innovation and economic development. This partnership is providing undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to enroll in degree programs on FAU’s Jupiter campus, enabling them to work and study alongside some of the world’s leading scientific researchers.

“This new facet of the FAU/Max Planck partnership provides even more opportunities to congregate the brightest minds in the world right here in the heart of South Florida,” said Kelly.

Ryohei Yasuda, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

MPFI Scientific Director Ryohei Yasuda Receives $4.8 Million NIH Pioneer Award

Award Recognizes Yasuda’s Creativity and Innovation in Biomedical Research

Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) Scientific Director, Ryohei Yasuda, has received the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Pioneer Award, which recognizes scientists who have demonstrated creativity and groundbreaking approaches in biomedical or behavioral science. The five-year, $4.8 million grant will support Yasuda’s lab as it works to dramatically improve our understanding of biochemical signaling in neurons, providing new insights into mental disorders like dementia, mental retardation and autism.

“I am honored and excited to be named one of NIH’s 2015 Pioneer Award recipients,” said Yasuda. “These critical funds will allow us to continue to pursue the high-risk, high-reward projects that MPFI is known for. As a result, our creativity and innovation can hopefully lead to new insights about the brain that will ultimately help develop treatments for many mental disorders.”

Yasuda is one of only 13 scientists to receive the 2015 Pioneer Award. To be considered pioneering, the proposed research must reflect substantially different scientific directions from those already being pursued in the investigator’s research program or elsewhere.

“This program has consistently produced research that revolutionized scientific fields by giving investigators the freedom to take risks and explore potentially groundbreaking concepts.” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

With the support from this award, Yasuda’s lab will work on establishing a high-throughput system for the development and optimization of signaling sensors, and a fully automated system for imaging signal transduction during plasticity in single dendrites. This project is expected to dramatically improve our understanding of the operation principle of biochemical signaling in neurons and is expected to provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying mental diseases such as dementia, mental retardation and autism.

Established in 2004, the Pioneer Award is provided through NIH’s Common Fund, which encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high-impact, trans-NIH programs. Common Fund programs are designed to pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute could tackle alone, but that the agency as a whole can address to make the biggest impact possible on the progress of medical research.

More information on current awardees and the NIH Common Fund High Risk-High Reward Research Program can be found here.