Max Planck Florida Institute Hosts Inaugural Symposium

February 8, 2010

The Max Planck Florida Institute recently hosted its first scientific symposium February 5 and 6 at their temporary facilities in Jupiter, Fla. More than 40 scientists and researchers attended the workshop called “From a Cortical Column Towards Functional Processing Pathways in Silico,” to discuss the significant progress made by researchers over the past five years to reconstruct the cortical column – the structure within the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. The group presented recent findings, outlined their next steps and speculated about the future and the most urgent needs associated with this high profile research focus. The long-term goal is to reconstruct and model cortical circuits that are involved in information processing.

Scientists who participated in this two-day event included representatives from different Max Planck Institutes in Germany; VU University in Amsterdam; Columbia University in New York; Zuse Institute Berlin; Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing in Heidelberg, Germany; University of Zurich; Technical University in Munich, Germany; and scientists from Scripps Florida and Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. Bert Sakmann, the 1991 Nobel Laureate in Medicine and inaugural scientific director of the Max Planck Florida Institute, was also one of the presenters. He is currently underway with a research program in Jupiter dedicated to creating a three-dimensional map of the normal brain. His research team, which includes Marcel Oberländer and Hanno Meyer is labeling the different cell types with specific fluorescent markers and then imaging and quantifying the neuron distributions. This work will lay the foundation for future studies on brain degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

The Max Planck Florida Institute is currently operating in a temporary facility on Florida Atlantic University’s MacArthur Campus in Jupiter. The permanent 100,000-square-foot biomedical research center and laboratories is expected to be completed by early 2012. For more information, visit