Developing the Partnership with Argentina

The new Max Planck Partner Institute for Biomedical Research

October 06, 2011

The Max Planck Society’s new Partner Institute in Buenos Aires is now open. The ceremony at which the new “Polo Cientifico” research campus was also inaugurated was attended by Argentina’s President Kirchner. She presented the Leloir Award to Florian Holsboer of the MPI of Psychiatry for his commitment to international scientific cooperation.

The President of the Max Planck Society, Peter Gruss, joined with the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and Science Minister Lino Barañao on Thursday in Buenos Aires to open the Max Planck Society’s new Partner Institute. “Through this Partner Institute we can support Argentina in raising its already high scientific standards still further. It also lifts the cooperation between Argentinean and German scientists – not just from the Max Planck Institutes – to a new level: Both Argentina and Germany will as a result be more visible and more attractive as centres of scientific research,” said Peter Gruss in his opening speech.

The new Institute for Biomedical Research, which will be run in cooperation with Argentina’s Council for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET), forms part of the new “Polo Científico” research campus that was also inaugurated on Thursday. The event was attended by around 2,000 guests. Prior to the ceremony, President Kirchner visited the new Partner Institute’s laboratories. She also presented Florian Holsboer, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, with the Argentine government’s Luis Federico Leloir Award. This award for international cooperation in science, technology and innovation was bestowed in recognition of Florian Holsboer’s commitment in establishing intensive long-term joint scientific ventures.

A contractual agreement to establish a joint Partner Institute for Biomedical Research was reached as long ago as 2007. The project was to be based primarily on the existing cooperation over a period of 20 years or more between Professor Holsboer and Argentinean Professor Eduardo Arzt who is now the Founding Director of the new Partner Institute and has for some long time been an External Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry.

After several years of construction, a new building housing the Partner Institute now stands on the former site of the well-known Bodega Giol in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires. The Argentinean Minister of Science Lino Barañao describes it as “a symbolic building – not just for Argentina, but for the entire region. It is intended to be open to researchers from throughout Argentina and other Latin American countries, with a particular emphasis devoted to interdisciplinary work.”

The Institute has set itself the primary goal of researching the molecular and cellular mechanisms in physiological and pathological processes, with a particular focus on identifying the molecular basis of diseases and potential new treatments.

To this end, the scientists are pursuing an interdisciplinary approach, particularly in their cooperation with other research institutions located on the “Polo Científico” in Buenos Aires. The emphasis is on modelling and chemical biophysics with the objective of finding new types of biomedical tests and treatments. All of the research work is also planned in close cooperation with the Max Planck Institutes. Close collaboration is currently in progress with the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich.

In addition, the Institute will also be focusing on providing training, for example for post-docs, and attracting Argentinean scientists back from abroad. Researchers who have previously worked in the USA, Spain and at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich will in future be employed at the Partner Institute.

The Max Planck Society has been cooperating with Argentina for some years at various levels. This is reflected not just in the form of five Partner Groups, but also in the decades spent by Argentinean scientists working in Germany. For example the biologist Thomas Jovin has been one of the Scientific Members of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen since 1969. The commitment displayed by Argentina’s Silvia Braslavsky in upholding scientific relations between Argentina and Germany was also honoured at Thursday’s ceremony. Until her retirement in 2007, she headed a Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Bioinorganic Chemistry. Science Minister Lino Barañao presented her with the Raices Award.

Since 2005, the Max Planck Society has operated another Partner Institute together with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai.

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