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GEN News Highlights : Jun 23, 2010

Max Planck Florida Institute Breaks Ground on New Facility

Construction of the new building will be completed by early 2012.

Today marked the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new 100,000 sq. ft. Max Planck Florida Institute, taking it a step closer to moving into its permanent location on six acres at Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter. Construction on the new building is expected to be completed by early 2012. Peter Gruss, Ph.D., president of Germany’s Max Planck Society, presided over the ceremony.

The Max Planck Florida Institute will focus on cutting-edge research in the neurosciences and integrative biology. “Basic research is the key driver of innovation,” Dr. Gruss notes. “The knowledge that we will gain from the Max Planck Florida Institute will create a basis for revolutionary innovations, the foundation on which the world of tomorrow will be built. With the support of Palm Beach County and the state of Florida, this new campus will enable us to fulfill our mission of conducting research at the highest level of quality and excellence.”

An economic study anticipates that the Max Planck Florida Institute will support the creation of more than 1,800 jobs, both directly and indirectly, over the next two decades, and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity. The Institute received significant funding from both the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development’s Innovation Incentive Fund ($94.1 million) and Palm Beach County ($86.9 million), $60 million of which is dedicated to the construction of the new research facility. In addition, FAU contributed to the project with a 50-year rent-free lease on the six-acre site (valued at $6.3 million) and the Town of Jupiter weighed in with $260,000 in waived impact fees. This dedication of almost $190 million illustrates the community’s commitment to the future of science.

The new research facility for the Max Planck Florida Institute is designed to accommodate nearly 58,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space that will house wet and dry bench research, instrumentation labs, computational research, core imaging facilities and microscope suites, information technology services, and offices for researchers and support staff.

The scientific facilities will be organized into three research wings including six guest labs to facilitate collaborative research. Conference rooms, a 100-seat auditorium, lounges, and administration offices are centrally located around an open lobby that connects all three floor levels. A large atrium is directly connected to an outdoor terrace on the second floor and provides a central gathering space. The Max Planck Florida Institute aims to also set a high standard for sustainable laboratory design in South Florida.

The Max Planck Florida Institute is currently operating in a 40,000 sq. ft facility on the MacArthur Campus. Among research already under way is The Digital Neuroanatomy group, under the direction of 1991 Nobel Laureate in Medicine Bert Sakmann, Ph.D., which is conducting a program dedicated to creating a 3-D map of the normal brain. The Molecular Neurobiology group, under the direction of Samuel M. Young  Jr., M.D., is studying synapses. Additional research groups are reportedly ready to start operations in July and September.