Max Planck Florida Institute Introduces Nonprofit Foundation

December 13, 2010

Today marks the formal launch of the Max Planck Florida Foundation, a fully-accredited nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization that will serve as the philanthropic arm of the Max Planck Florida Institute. The foundation is charged with raising funds to support the scientific mission, objectives, and programs of the Institute. Dr. Claudia Hillinger has been appointed president of the Foundation, and in this capacity will provide leadership to both the Foundation and to the Institute’s extensive national external relations program. Prior to accepting this very important role for the Institute, her efforts focused not only on establishing the German-based Max Planck Society in the United States, but also to being intimately involved in the design and implementation of the construction of the 100,000-sq.-ft. biomedical research center and laboratories scheduled for completion in early 2012 on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Jupiter, Fla.

“Private funding is critical to opening the door to scientific discovery and to carry our research forward in the coming decades,” said Dr. Hillinger. “The Max Planck Florida Foundation not only provides us with a defined program to accept philanthropic support from individuals, corporations and foundations around the nation, but also with the ability to ensure our donors that their gifts will be utilized for the purposes for which they were given. We are looking for visionaries and humanitarians who have a passion for exploring the possibilities for a better life through science — those who not only believe in the Institute’s mission, but who are willing to commit their resources to realize it.”

George T. Elmore, founder and president of Hardrives, Inc., will serve as the chairman of the Foundation; Patricia B. Lester, co-owner of a New York-based private investment firm will serve as secretary; and Robert Eigen, president and CEO of Eigen Properties will serve as treasurer. Additional members of the board of directors are Mark Cook of Royal Palm Management; Frank J. Folz III of Airspan Networks Inc.; Erik Joh, Esq. of Cypress Trust; Dirk Lohan, FAIA of Lohan Anderson; Michael V. Mitrione, Esq. of Gunster; and Gregory V. Novak of Novak Druce + Quigg LLP.

The Max Planck Florida Institute currently has a team of 45 scientific, technical, and administrative staff in a temporary facility on Florida Atlantic University’s campus in Jupiter. It was recently announced that David Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., will serve as Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Institute’s Department of Cortical Circuit Function, effective Jan. 3, 2011. Dr. Fitzpatrick is currently the James B. Duke Professor of Neurobiology at the Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, and Director of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.  His scientific contributions have earned him international recognition as a leader in systems neuroscience, with a focus 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.

Dr. Fitzpatrick’s research, combined with the work being done in the Max Planck Florida Institute’s four existing research groups, could lead to the development and application of new technologies that resolve the inner workings of the brain to facilitate medical diagnostics and treatment for diseases such as Autism, ADHD, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, mental retardation and others.

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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.