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About Us

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About Us

HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, cracks open scientific fields by breaking through technical and intellectual barriers.
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About Us
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Our integrated teams of lab scientists and tool-builders pursue a small number of scientific questions with potential for transformative impact. To drive science forward, we share our methods, results, and tools with the scientific community.

Our Model

Our research model includes core features shared by innovative research institutions:

  • Small research groups led by lab heads who themselves actively conduct research
  • An emphasis on early scientific independence
  • An environment that fosters collaboration between groups, particularly tool-builders and tool-users
  • Highly capable teams to run collaborative projects and provide scientific support
  • An explicit goal to make progress in a small number of high-impact, challenging research areas

Our Research

In 2017, we moved to a 15-year research model. We plan to develop a given research area for roughly 15 years to gain traction and attract outside interest, at which point we’ll cycle to a new area of focus. This approach enables Janelia to stay at the frontier of science, advancing 1-3 research areas at any point in time.

To date, Janelia scientists have made a number of biological advances, including foundational analysis of the complex neural connections and computations that underlie behavior. And we shared the tools necessary to make these advances with the research community.

Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience (2018)

Our first new research area leverages and transforms Janelia’s program on neural circuits and behavior, allowing us to pursue one of the biggest questions in brain science. Researchers in mechanistic cognitive neuroscience ask how does the brain enables cognition. This integrated program enables tool-builders, biologists, and theorists to collaborate to clear the technical, conceptual, and computational hurdles that have kept the most intriguing aspects of cognition beyond the purview of mechanistic investigation.


Across Janelia’s research areas, tool-building is a constant. Our tool-builders drive the development of widely used microscopes, dyes, sensors, software, algorithms, research methods and models, and more. With new tools, we can explore some of life’s big mysteries.