Max Planck-FAU Brings Premier Doctoral Program to the US

The nation’s first International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Brain and Behavior via FAU collaboration launched this fall semester with five students from FAU.

From left to right: FAU IMPRS Students Ye Sun; Ke Zhang; Kuo-Sheng Lee; Dan Wilson; and Monica Risley.

By cara perry | 9/22/2016

The nation’s first International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Brain and Behavior, a renowned doctoral degree program brought to Jupiter via a collaboration with Florida Atlantic University, recently launched for the fall semester welcoming five students from FAU and 10 other students from around the world.

The first class was selected through a competitive process that included in-person interviews at Max Plank Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) and at the University of Bonn, Germany.  More than 200 student applications were received for the coveted spots.

“With this new doctoral program, neuroscience research in South Florida will be elevated to a global platform, one that provides the ideal environment for developing the next generation of scientific leaders,” said David Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., scientific director and chief executive officer of MPFI.  “Having the opportunity to learn from an international team of investigators at the cutting edge of brain research is a fantastic catalyst for high impact discoveries.”

Max Planck’s IMPRS have been educating doctoral candidates since 2000 in fields ranging from chemistry, physics and technology, to biology and social sciences. MPFI, in collaboration with FAU, University of Bonn, and the Center for Advanced European Studies and Research (Bonn, Germany), is bringing IMPRS to the United States with a special emphasis on brain and behavior studies.

IMPRS for Brain and Behavior students are fully-funded Ph.D. positions in neuroscience. Using state-of-the-art technology, they will explore multiple aspects of brain function including the neural basis of sensory processing, motor control and learning and memory.

“This program is an amazing opportunity and some of the best students in the world are coming to Jupiter, Fla. to study the brain,” said Rod Murphey, Ph.D., director of FAU’s Jupiter Life Science Initiative. “They will be exposed to the best neuroscientists in the world, mentored by an outstanding cadre of faculty on two continents and trained to solve some of the most important basic and clinical problems involving the brain and behavior.”

To learn more about IMPRS for Brain and Behavior, visit

About Florida Atlantic University:  
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit .

About the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience:
The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), a not-for-profit research organization, is part of the world-renowned Max Planck Society, Germany’s most successful research organization with over 80 institutes worldwide. Since its establishment in 1948, 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists. It has produced over 15,000 publications, more than 3,000 inventions and over 90 spin-off companies, putting it on par with the best and most prestigious research institutions in the world. As its first U.S. institution, MPFI brings together exceptional neuroscientists from around the world to answer fundamental questions about brain development and function and to develop new technologies that make groundbreaking scientific discoveries possible. Their research is shared publicly with scholars, universities and other organizations around the globe, providing the necessary foundation of knowledge to develop treatments and cures for brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. For more information, visit


About the International Max Planck Research School for Brain and Behavior:
IMPRS for Brain and Behavior involves two partnerships on each side of the Atlantic: the Center for Advanced European Studies and Research (CAESAR) and the University of Bonn (Uni Bonn) in Germany and the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the United States. The program aims to recruit outstanding doctoral students and immerse them in a stimulating environment that provides novel technologies to elucidate the function of brain circuits from molecules to animal behavior. IMPRS for Brain and Behavior faculty will guide students to develop the critical and creative mindset required for a successful scientific career. The comprehensive and diverse expertise of the faculty in the exploration of brain-circuit function using advanced imaging and optogenetic techniques combined with comprehensive training in fundamental neurobiology will provide students with an exceptional level of knowledge to pursue a successful independent research career.