The Janelia research environment consists of small teams grouped into Research Areas, Tool Development and Theory, Project Teams, and Support Teams. Collaboration across these groups allows Janelia scientists to tackle big conceptual and technological challenges in biomedical research, supported by administrative teams embedded in the Janelia research community.
Research Areas address important biomedical problems for which future progress requires technological innovation. Research areas can focus primarily on a biomedical problem, on technology development, or both. They will turn over with a cadence of 15 years. Currently, we have one research area in operation: Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience. Additional research areas will be decided through open, international competitions. Our first competition launched in October 2018.
Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience
Cognition has long been studied at the level of behavior and neural dynamics in primates, and this work has generated important models of underlying computational mechanisms. By necessity, most of these models have been at the level of interactions between large brain regions. Today, independent laboratories in Janelia’s Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience research area, led by Senior Group Leader Vivek Jayaraman, are working to reveal a detailed understanding of how cognitive processes and behavior are implemented at the level of neural circuits, cells, and molecules – a mechanistic view.
Tool Development and Theory
Tool Development and Theory teams focus on developing and disseminating impactful tools to tackle fundamental biological questions. They don’t turn over with regular cadence but adapt to new opportunities and needs within Janelia and the larger research community. Scientists in these teams collaborate closely with technically adventurous biologists at Janelia, ensuring that we’re developing the right tools and theory for the task.
Molecular Tools and Imaging
Janelia’s tool-builders are independent experts in a range of physical, chemical, and biological disciplines who develop creative solutions for problems in biology. Microscopes, dyes, and sensors developed at Janelia are already widely used in labs around the world. As Janelia moves into new research areas, labs in our Molecular Tools and Imaging program, led by Senior Group Leader Luke Lavis, will continue to invent novel reagents and technologies that push the boundaries of biological discovery.
Computation and Theory
Labs in Janelia’s Computation and Theory program are developing novel algorithms, models, and theories to guide experiments and extract insights from data collected at Janelia. Led by Senior Group leader Kristin Branson, they perform independent research in computer science, computational biology, and mathematics, and collaborate with Janelia’s biologists and tool-builders to find new ways to accelerate discovery and transform observations into understanding.
Project teams tackle problems or build tools that are unattainable by individual scientists or labs. These synergistic teams are purposefully flexible and responsive, and thus able to move quickly to meet new research needs and opportunities across multiple labs. Project teams have limited terms.
Our support teams partner with individual research labs to provide made-to-order tools, software, and access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. This expert staff solves day-to-day technological challenges.