Our Model

Our research model includes these core features:

  • 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 that 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. 

Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience (2019)

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 enable 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.

Future Research Areas

Going forward, HHMI will hold open competitions to determine Janelia’s future research areas.


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.

Janelia Scientists

Janelia's Group Leaders are independent scientists at all career stages who are directing small teams of researchers doing groundbreaking research across scientific disciplines.