Janelia Research Campus

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Janelia Research Campus
Updated Janelia Logo.png
Established September 6, 2006 (2006-09-06)
Research type Unclassified
Budget $300 million
Director Gerald M. Rubin
Staff 424
Location Ashburn, Virginia
Campus 689 acres (2.79 km2)
Operating agency
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Eric Betzig
Website www.janelia.org

Janelia Research Campus is a research campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that opened in October 2006, after ground was broken in 2000.[1] The campus is located in Loudoun County, Virginia, near the town of Ashburn. It is known for its scientific research and modern architecture. The Executive Director of the laboratory is the biologist Gerald M. Rubin, who is also a vice-president of HHMI.

The campus was known as "Janelia Farm Research Campus" until the name changed to "Janelia Research Campus" in 2014.[2]


For many years, the main way HHMI conducted research was through supporting investigators who worked at their home institution. This is still the majority of HHMI research, with (as of 2011) more than 330 investigators at 70 institutions.[3] However, there are interdisciplinary problems that are difficult to address in existing research settings, and Janelia was built to address one of these problems,[4] neurobiology. As of November 2011, the facility has 424 employees and room for 150 more.[5] The campus focuses on interdisciplinary research in this area, specifically addressing:

  • The identification of general principles that govern how information is processed by neuronal circuits.
  • The development of imaging technologies and computational methods for image analysis.

In 2017, Janelia announced a new research area, mechanistic cognitive neuroscience.[6]

In addition to and in cooperation with the individual investigators, there are four large scale and two small scale interdisciplinary projects at Janelia:[4][7]

  • High-throughput characterizing of the behavioral phenotypes on genetically defined small neural lesions in Drosophila.
  • Two projects aimed at developing both large-scale neuroanatomical data for Drosophila (at the light and electron microscopy levels) as well as accelerating the technology so that even larger anatomical projects can be approached in the future.

Janelia was designed to emulate the unconstrained and collaborative environments at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Cambridge's Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Researchers are on six-year contracts and fully internally funded, independent of traditional research grant funding.[8]

Gerald M. Rubin is the first executive director of Janelia, and saw it from concept through construction to operation. The other 50 research lab heads are Misha Ahrens, Bruce Baker, Eric Betzig, Davi Bock, Kristin Branson, Gwyneth Card, Albert Cardona, Barry Dickson, Shaul Druckmann, Joshua Dudman, Jeremy Freeman, Tamir Gonen, Nikolaus Grigorieff, Adam Hantman, Tim Harris, Ulrike Heberlein, Harald Hess, Stephen Huston, Vivek Jayaraman, Na Ji, Alla Karpova, Krystyna Keleman, Philipp Keller, Minoru Koyama, Luke Lavis, Albert Lee, Tzumin Lee, Anthony Leonardo, Zhe Liu, Loren Looger, Jeffrey Magee, Eva Pastalkova, Anastasios Pavlopoulos, Michael Reiser, Lynn Riddiford, Sandro Romani, Stephan Saalfeld, Eric Schreiter, Louis Scheffer, Robert Singer, Nelson Spruston, David Stern, Scott Sternson, Karel Svoboda, Michael Tadross, Robert Tjian, James Truman, Srinivas Turaga, Carl Wu, and Marta Zlatic.[9]


The 689 acres (2.79 km2) campus features a 900-foot (270 m) long, arc-shaped laboratory known as the Landscape Building. Designed by Rafael Viñoly, the building, 270 feet (82 m) deep at the ground floor, is built into a hill and designed to be the primary research facility.[10] Site and landscape design were completed by Dewberry in 2006 and include over four acres of green roof meadow plantings which blend the building into the surrounding site. Additional landscape enhancements were designed by Lewis Scully Gionet, Inc., and were completed in fall 2008 (and won an Honor Award from the Maryland and Potomac chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects). This work includes hardscape elements (an architectural water feature, expanded path network, and siting of multiple pieces of artwork, among others) and comprehensive planting additions, and was constructed by Ruppert Nurseries.

The Janelia property was purchased by HHMI from the Dutch software maker Baan Companies in December 2000.[11] The original Janelia Farm house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[12][13]

Community involvement[edit]

HHMI works with the Loudoun County Public Schools through a partnership by granting scholarships and enriching science classes.[14] In particular, it is a partner with Loudoun Academy of Science. [15] HHMI donates approximately $1 million in annual support for science education through the Loudoun County Public School District.[16] Janelia hosts a quarterly public lecture series for the public.[17]


  1. ^ Carey, Mac (February 9, 2011). "Brave New World". Virginia Living. Cape Fear Publishing. Retrieved June 27, 2016. 
  2. ^ "History". Janelia Research Campus. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "About HHMI: Introduction". 
  4. ^ a b "Janelia's Philosophy". 
  5. ^ M. Mitchell Waldrop (17 November 2011). "Research at Janelia: Life on the farm. Five years in, has a lofty experiment in interdisciplinary research paid off". Nature. 479: 284–286. doi:10.1038/479284a. 
  6. ^ "What is Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience? | Janelia Research Campus". www.janelia.org. Retrieved 2018-04-12. 
  7. ^ "Project Teams - Janelia Research Campus". www.janelia.org. Retrieved 24 January 2018. 
  8. ^ Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (8 December 2006). "Neurobiology on the Farm". Science. 314 (5805): 1530–1532. doi:10.1126/science.314.5805.1530. 
  9. ^ "Janelia.org". 
  10. ^ "Campus project designed to inspire ground-breaking science" (PDF). R&D Magazine. 13 November 2007. 
  11. ^ http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/july2001/janelia/janelia2.html
  12. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  13. ^ "Howard Hughes Medical Institute Breaks Ground For Janelia Farm Research Campus". Howard Hughes Medical Institute. May 5, 2003. 
  14. ^ "Loudoun County Schools, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Announce Innovative Science Education Partnership - HHMI.org". HHMI.org. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  15. ^ Michael Alison Chandler (30 May 2014). "Loudoun County's Academy of Science showcases teens' first forays into research". Washington Post. 
  16. ^ "Janelia in the Community - Janelia Research Campus". www.janelia.org. Retrieved 24 January 2018. 
  17. ^ "Dialogues of Discovery - Janelia Research Campus". www.janelia.org. Retrieved 24 January 2018. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gerald M. Rubin: Establishing a new Research Institute: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus. in: Perspectives of Research - Identification and Implementation of Research Topics by Organizations - Ringberg-Symposium 2006 (Max-Planck-Forum 7) Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (Hrsg.), München 2007, ISSN 1438-8715

Coordinates: 39°04′18″N 77°27′53″W / 39.0716°N 77.4648°W / 39.0716; -77.4648