We commemorated the opening of our new, world-class 100,000 sq. ft. research facility – the first institute outside of Europe for the Max Planck Society – with a week-long celebration that included elected officials from around the state, business and community leaders and German dignitaries. It all started with a tour of the Institute with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is credited with the strategic vision of creating a statewide bioscience cluster with world-class research organizations. Bush participated in a roundtable discussion on the importance of scientific research on the local, national and international levels that also included Dr. Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society; Dr. David Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director and CEO of MPFIN; German State Secretary Cornelia Quennet-Thielen; and former Palm Beach County Commissioner Karen Marcus. German Consul General Countess Eva Kendeffy served as moderator.
The following morning we hosted the official grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony. More than 400 guests attended and heard presentations by Drs. Fitzpatrick and Gruss; Florida CFO Jeff Atwater; Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams; Jupiter Mayor Karen Golonka; and FAU President Dr. Mary Jane Saunders. The highlight of the morning was news announced by Germany's State Secretary Quennet-Thielen: a joint contribution from the German State and the Max Planck Society of $40 million over the next four years to support additional scientific research at our Florida Institute. Dr. Fizpatrick received the official key (and access card!) to the new building before the giant ribbon was cut and then guests enjoyed guided tours.
Later that evening at a private reception hosted by the Max Planck Florida Foundation the spectacular donor wall was unveiled for the first time. Prominently positioned in the lobby, it showcases in striking style the names of the supporters who helped fund the building. Guests heard presentations from Dr. Gruss and Mariette DiChristina, Editor-In-Chief of Scientific American, before going upstairs to the atrium for a science-inspired reception.
The grand opening celebrations concluded with a public celebration called Neuroscience Discovery Day. More than 3,000 guests and families attended the all-day event sponsored by the Quantum Foundation and enjoyed tours of the new building, scientific lectures, a panel discussion on careers in science, live music and a gourmet food truck expo. Inside the main event tent, both kids and adults alike enjoyed interactive brain-related activities, the Battle of the Brains scientific poster competition sponsored by The Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund for high school students and the Neuroscience Inspires Art Contest and Exhibition sponsored by Donna W. Long.
An historic week, all 'round that marks the beginning of a new chapter in science exploration for Florida and Palm Beach County.