German research society plans bio-imaging institute in America

Germany’s Max Planck Society (MPG) announced this week that it will establish its first institute in the US, a bio-imaging centre at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Palm Beach County. 

The Max Planck Florida Institute will be housed on the Jupiter Campus of FAU near Scripps Florida, a biomedical research institute that is part of the La Jolla, California-based Scripps Research Institute. Palm Beach County has already approved $87 million over the next 10 years to support the institute, with the State of Florida expected to provide a comparable amount. 

While it is increasingly common for European and US institutes to set up institutes in Asia under cooperation agreements that they in turn partially finance, Max Planck Florida appears to be a novel arrangement. Not only is a German institute setting up shop in the US, but Florida taxpayers are footing much of the bill. 

Bernd Wirsing, MPG spokesman in Munich, told Chemistry World: ’(MPG) will not contribute to the funding of the new Florida institute. It will be funded by Palm Beach County, State of Florida, private funds and research grants.’ 
As a bio-imaging centre, chemistry will play a significant role at Max Planck Florida. However, Wirsing said it is too early to predict how many chemists will be based there. ’A detailed scientific concept is still to be finalised,’ he said. 

Wirsing said the institute will be divided into three departments: molecular imaging, biosensing and cellular mechanisms. If contract negotiations with Florida proceed as expected, work at Max Planck Florida could begin next year. At full strength, the institute is expected to have about 150 researchers from around the world. 

Ned Stafford