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A six-member delegation from Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, received a guided tour on of the new 100,000-sq.-ft. biomedical research facility that will be the permanent home to the Max Planck Florida Institute, the first  U.S. institute of Germany’s world renowned Max Planck Society. Dr. Peter Gruss, president of the Max Planck Society, and Dr. David Fitzpatrick, MPFI’s CEO and scientific director, led the tour, which was also attended by German Consul General Eva Alexandra Countess Kendeffy.

“This visit was a unique opportunity to provide an overview of the important research that we have underway, as well as of the progress we’ve made on our new building,” Gruss said.

The new facility is being built on six acres at Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter and is expected to be completed by summer 2012.  Currently, MPFI’s 61 staff members are working out of a temporary facility also located on the MacArthur campus.

Using cutting-edge optical imaging technologies, the Institute’s scientists are engaged in pioneering neuroscience research with a specific focus on neural circuits — the complex synaptic networks of the brain. This pioneering research is a vital step toward a better of understanding human behavior and could offer new ways to treat a host of neurological and psychiatric disorders and diseases more effectively, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, autism and schizophrenia. MPFI was recently awarded its first NIH fellowship to study the development of brain circuits.

“We are mapping the connectivity within neural networks at the level of individual neurons,” said Dr. Fitzpatrick. “This is a major frontier in neuroscience and an essential step towards understanding how the brain works.”

The German delegation was also introduced to Scripps Florida with a presentation by Dr. Harry Orf, vice president of scientific operations. FAU’s Dr. Gary Perry, dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and professor of neuroscience, provided an overview of the university.

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