To further cement their research and academic partnership, neuroscience faculty from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and Max Planck Florida Institute recently initiated the joint graduate program in Integrative Biology and Neuroscience (IBAN) with the inaugural graduate-level advanced neurophysiology course on FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter.

This new teaching laboratory houses high-tech equipment, purchased by a $300,000 Clustering Grant from the New Florida Initiative, as well as equipment loaned by FAU Provost and internationally recognized neuroscientist, Brenda Claiborne, Ph.D. from her personal laboratory. The New Florida Initiative is a collaborative effort involving the State University System, business and government to deliver the economic talents and innovations to keep Florida globally competitive.

The inaugural course involves faculty and students tackling many of the cutting-edge questions in neuroscience through the integration of multiple disciplines, different model systems and a broad spectrum of technologies. The class includes eight graduate students who are pursuing doctorate degrees in neuroscience from FAU’s IBAN program, integrative biology, as well as the behavioral neuroscience program in psychology.

“We are training a new generation of neuroscientists,” said Rodney Murphey, Ph.D., professor and chair of FAU’s department of biological sciences. “And the students in this course not only get exposure to the new teaching facilities FAU has established, but can also tap into the special resources that Max Planck has to offer while also having the opportunity to meet and learn from top-notch scientists. This was illustrated with the visit this week to the teaching lab by two Nobel laureates from the Max Planck Society — Bert Sakmann of the Max Planck Florida Institute, and Erwin Neher of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry — who shared the Prize in 1991 for developing methods for studying single ion channels in living cells.”

Murphey teaches the course along with other College of Science faculty, including Ken Dawson-Scully, Ph.D. of biological sciences, Robert Stackman, Ph.D. of psychology and teaching assistants Brian Orr and Gongliang Zhang, Ph.D. from FAU, as well as Samuel Young, Ph.D. from Max Planck Florida Institute.  The team traveled to Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany in the winter of 2011 to benchmark the intensive, research-oriented graduate programs offered there and have modeled the advanced neurophysiology course after that curriculum. The Max Planck Florida Institute, led by David Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., scientific director and chief executive officer, is the only Max Planck Institute located in the U.S.


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