Max Planck Florida Institute’s Dr. David Fitzpatrick Receives 2011 Ellis Island Medal of Honor

May 12, 2011



David Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director of the Max Planck Florida Institute, was among the outstanding Americans who were honored Saturday, May 7 in New York City, with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), the award recognizes important community leaders who have used their extraordinary abilities to change the lives of others around the world.

Dr. Fitzpatrick was recognized by NECO for his scientific contributions as a leader in systems neuroscience. His award-winning research focuses on the functional organization and development of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex—the largest and most complex area of the brain, whose functions include sensory perception, motor control and cognition.  This knowledge is critical for understanding how cortical circuits are altered in neurological and psychiatric disorders and could lead to new treatments for diseases such as Autism, ADHD, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and others.

Dr. Fitzpatrick joined the Max Planck Florida Institute from the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC where he was the James B. Duke Professor of Neurobiology and Director of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. He has received a number of awards for his research accomplishments, including an Alfred P. Sloan Research Award, The Cajal Club Cortical Discoverer Award and The McKnight Neuroscience Investigator Award. He has served on numerous scientific advisory boards including those for the Searle Scholars Program, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), the Riken Brain Science Institute, the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, the Society for Neuroscience and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Fitzpatrick has also been recognized as an outstanding teacher, earning an Excellence in Basic Science Teaching Award from Duke University School of Medicine.

During this year’s awards ceremony at The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park in New York City, Dr. Fitzpatrick joined other Palm Beach County recipients, including philanthropist Patrick M. Park; attorney Harvey E. Oyer, III; and real estate developer Michele Rollins.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record. Past recipients include six presidents of the United States, several Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity.
About the Max Planck Society:

Germany’s Max Planck Society has led the world in advancing the frontiers of scientific research for more than 60 years. The independent, nonprofit organization, with its international staff of around 20,400, including research fellows and visiting scientists, has an annual operating budget of $1.8 billion. Named for the 1918 Nobel Prize-winning physicist and founder of the quantum theory, Max Planck, the scientific institution maintains 80 institutes and research facilities located mainly in Germany, but also in Italy, Netherlands, and now in the United States. All are focused on exceptional, results-oriented basic research in the life sciences, social sciences and the humanities.

About NECO

NECO was created in 1984 on the conviction of its founders that the diversity of the American people is what makes this nation great. NECO’s mission is to honor the nation’s diverse past, to advocate for positive change in the present, and to build strong leaders for the future.  NECO is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization with strategic alliances that allow it to support a range of diverse programs and insure that every dollar it spends goes to creating a better world in the future.