Janelia Research Campus

Janelia Research Campus

Janelia is a pioneering research center where scientists from many disciplines gather to collaborate on some of science's most challenging problems.

Janelia scientists are working on discovering the basic rules and mechanisms of the brain's information-processing system and developing optical, biological, and computational technologies for creating and interpreting biological images.

Janelia's overall objective is to pursue fundamental problems in basic biomedical research that are difficult to approach in academia and industry, because: * They require expertise from disparate areas. * They are too long-term for standard funding mechanisms. * They are outside the current priorities of other funding agencies.

Our campus is operating at a minimal level right now, but our commitment to research continues. Read about ways Janelians are sharing their time, expertise and resources during the COVID-19 crisis.


[03/16/20]   To limit exposure to #COVID19 and keep our employees safe, Janelia will reduce campus and research operations to a minimal level through March 31. We continue to monitor the situation and will update our status as more information becomes available.

Fei Wang and Kaiyu Wang in Barry Dickson’s lab have mapped the neural circuits that link egg-laying to mating status in flies, making sure that female flies (like the array shown here) only lay eggs after mating.

“This is now perhaps one of the most completely understood behaviors in the fly,” says Dickson. “It's a great model for looking at how the brain integrates internal and external information.”

Their paper came out last week in Nature!

[02/06/20]   We're thrilled to welcome Ron Vale, who officially took the helm as Janelia's new executive director earlier this week!

1. overview_video.mp4

Presenting: The most complete map yet of the fruit fly brain. Janelia’s FlyEM team has traced the paths of some 25,000 neurons in the fruit fly brain and pinpointed the places where they connect. Now, all the data is available online for free. https://www.janelia.org/news/unveiling-the-biggest-and-most-detailed-map-of-the-fly-brain-yet

Correlative microscopy overview video .mp4

A new microscopy technique is revealing cells’ fine structure in new detail. The method, developed by Eric Betzig, Harald Hess + colleagues, combines 3D super-resolution fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy in whole cells. Published today, in Science!

New work from Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz's lab out today in Nature Cell Biology: A protein that helps regulate cell proliferation pulls far-apart genes together by forming phase-separated droplets in the cell's nucleus. https://www.janelia.org/news/a-master-key-protein-brings-far-flung-genes-together-to-coordinate-cell-multiplication


To Navigate, Flies Make Flexible Mental Maps of the World | Janelia Research Campus

Virtual reality is helping scientists study how fruit flies use visual cues to refine their sense of direction. Read more in two new studies published today in Nature, from labs of Janelia’s Vivek Jayaraman and HHMI Investigator Rachel Wilson.

janelia.org Flies use visual cues to finesse their mental maps of the environment. Two new studies use virtual reality to show how.

Congratulations to Janelian Igor Siwanowicz, who has won second place in the 2019 Nikon Small World competition for this photograph of freshwater protozoans called stentors.

Stentors, also known as trumpet animalcules, are shape-shifters, morphing from a horn shape into the pear shape shown here when swimming freely. They’re studied for their amazing regenerative abilities. A tiny piece of this two-millimeter single-celled animal, containing just a fragment of the multi-part nucleus (the colorful globular structures), can regrow into a new animal.

Stentors are a challenge to photograph. The chemicals used to prepare samples for a shot under a microscope can cause sensitive stentors to “collapse into a ball of protoplasm,” Siwanowicz says. But buried in an old paper, he found a reference to a technique for “relaxing” the stentors with magnesium ions — like “a bath in Epsom salt.” Using that trick, he’s captured them under a fluorescent microscope.


Movie s1 clip 1.mp4

A new imaging method follows young neurons in a developing zebrafish as they travel across the embryo and organize themselves into circuits. Read the latest work from Philipp Keller’s lab, published today in Cell. https://www.janelia.org/news/how-neural-circuits-form-in-a-developing-embryo


Now We Know How the Thalamus is Organized | Janelia Research Campus

The ThalamoSeq Project Team is illuminating the organization of the thalamus, a switchboard in the brain. The findings, published today in Nature Neuroscience, give new clues to the way information is transmitted through the mouse brain. https://www.janelia.org/news/now-we-know-how-the-thalamus-is-organized



MouseLight Project Team Maps 1,000 Neurons (and Counting) in the Mouse Brain | Janelia Research Campus

The MouseLight Project Team has traced more than 1,000 neurons in the mouse brain. Their paper on this milestone is published today in Cell. Check out the story and video! https://www.janelia.org/news/mouselight-project-team-maps-1000-neurons-and-counting-in-the-mouse-brain

janelia.org Janelia Research Campus scientists have mapped more than 1,000 neurons in the mouse brain. It’s the most extensive neural wiring diagram available, and the data are accessible online. Scientists are batting a thousand in a project to reconstruct the mouse brain’s wiring diagram.

An ‘80s cartoon is making a comeback! But this time around, Voltron is a new way to measure voltage changes in neurons. Read more about this cool tool today in Science.



SLAP Microscopy Smashes Speed Barriers | Janelia Research Campus

A new two-photon microscope breaks speed limits by compressing data. It can capture neurotransmitter release at hundreds of synapses simultaneously! Check out the latest work from the Podgorski Lab, published this week in Nature Methods.

janelia.org A new two-photon microscope captures videos of the brain faster than ever, revealing voltage changes and neurotransmitter release.


Happy #FourthofJuly to everyone in the United States! John Heddleston from Janelia’s Advanced Imaging Center captured these fireworks on the lattice light sheet microscope alongside AIC visitor Andy Moore. Video: dividing cells (actin and mitochondria are stained, color map: red, white, and blue).


Frustrated Fish Give Up Thanks to Glia, Not Just Neurons | Janelia Research Campus

Glia aren’t just support cells for neurons. New research from the Ahrens Lab shows that glia can perform computations that tell frustrated fish when to give up.

janelia.org Giving up when efforts are futile depends on glial cells called radial astrocytes, highlighting a novel computational role for the underappreciated brain cells. Secured in place in a virtual-reality-equipped chamber, frustrated zebrafish just didn’t want to swim anymore. They had been “swimming...


Flight or Alight? New Research Untangles How Flies Determine the Appropriate Response to a Looming Stimulus | Janelia Research Campus

To a fruit fly, the looming shadow of a predator looks a lot like an approaching landing place—but requires a different response. New research from Gwyneth Card's lab published in @natureneuro shows how flies react correctly based on context cues.

janelia.org Two types of neurons in the fly brain help a fly land when it detects a looming stimulus – but only if it’s already in flight.


NeuroSeq Project Team Creates Atlas of Mouse Neurons | Janelia Research Campus

NeuroSeq, a Janelia Project Team, analyzed RNA from more than 200 populations of neurons. A paper describing the project is out now: https://www.janelia.org/news/neuroseq-project-team-creates-atlas-of-mouse-neurons

janelia.org A Janelia project to profile different populations of mouse neurons yields insights into what sets brain cells apart. Sacha Nelson wanted to understand what sets different types of neurons apart.

Learn from Janelians Kristin Branson, Srini Turaga, and Larissa Heinrichs in the Society for Neuroscience virtual conference on machine learning on June 26: bit.ly/2H8zXnh


Dates & Process | Janelia Research Campus

Thanks to everyone who submitted applications to our competition to decide Janelia’s next research area. We are no longer accepting pre-proposals. Stay tuned for updates!

janelia.org HHMI is hosting an open, international competition to decide Janelia’s next research area. We are looking for a big idea that addresses a major unsolved problem in the life sciences, and a scientist to lead it.


Astrocytes Protect Neurons From Toxic Buildup | Janelia Research Campus

Astrocytes recycle toxic molecules offloaded by neurons. New research from Janelia scientists in this week’s issue of Cell shows how it happens.

janelia.org Neurons off-load toxic by-products to astrocytes, which process and recycle them.


Female Flies Respond to Sensation of Sex, Not Just Sperm | Janelia Research Campus

A new study from Ulrike Heberlein and Lisha Shao IDs neurons in female fruit flies that respond to the feeling of sex by shutting down future mating attempts. It’s a way that female flies may determine they’ve successfully mated, well before their body detects sperm. https://www.janelia.org/news/female-flies-respond-to-sensation-of-sex-not-just-sperm



New 2019 Academy Members Announced

Congratulations to Sr. Group Leader Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz on her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences!

amacad.org More than 200 individuals with compelling achievements in academia, business, government, and public affairs were elected to the Academy in 2019.

Janelia enjoyed a visit from some very good dogs from @heelinghouse this week! Thanks to JARS for the inaugural “Pause to Pet” event.
@ Janelia Research Campus

A cloudy day on campus. Photo credit: Anna J. Chang


Janelia scientists come from diverse backgrounds—We have biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists who work together to solve biological problems. Who is eligible for the opportunity to lead a new research area at Janelia? Zari Zavala-Ruiz has the details. https://www.janelia.org/our-research/competition/opportunity


Animal Development Comes into Focus with New Imaging Technology | Janelia Research Campus

By inventing technology to peer into early vertebrate development, Philipp Keller and his team are helping to solve one of biology’s most intriguing problems – how a single cell grows into an animal capable of complex tasks. Read more about what’s possible at Janelia.

janelia.org Janelia Group Leader Philipp Keller's laboratory has a knack for finding ways to make the invisible visible. By inventing technology to peer into early vertebrate development, Keller and his team are helping to solve one of biology's most intriguing problems - how a single cell grows into an animal ...


Artificial Intelligence Gives Researchers New Insights Into the Brain | Janelia Research Campus

Researchers in the Branson lab used a program called JAABA to develop an interactive, cellular-level map of which neurons in the fruit fly brain lead to certain behaviors. Over 18 months, the team studied 400,000 fruit flies performing social behaviors and movements like walking, stopping, aggressive chasing, and the courtship behavior of wing opening. It would have taken humans around 3,800 years to analyze that video data.

janelia.org Research Scientist Alice Robie, a neuroscientist working in a Janelia Research Campus computer science lab, has a unique opportunity to help other biologists extract meaning from their large datasets. "Making usable tools is a much more difficult engineering problem than simply writing an algorithm,...


We’re asking applicants who submit proposals to our new research area competition to describe their leadership and mentoring philosophies. Senior Group Leader Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz explains why that’s an important part of the application. https://www.janelia.org/our-research/competition/opportunity


Q&A: Ron Vale, new chief of Janelia Research Campus, on why 15 years is a good research time frame

A Q&A with Ron Vale on his upcoming new job as the next director of Janelia and what he's looking forward to.

"I'm greatly interested in science culture and that’s one of the reasons I was very attracted."

sciencemag.org Cell biologist takes helm of Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s research center early next year


Ron Vale Named Next Executive Director of Janelia Research Campus and HHMI Vice President | Janelia Research Campus

Janelia will welcome HHMI Investigator Ron Vale to campus as our next executive director in early 2020. https://www.janelia.org/news/ron-vale-named-next-executive-director-of-janelia-research-campus-and-hhmi-vice-president

janelia.org Vale, an HHMI investigator at the University of California, San Francisco, will serve as the second executive director of the Ashburn, Virginia-based biomedical research center.


“We've made tremendous strides in systems neuroscience, understanding the relationship between neural circuits and behavior, and we're going to keep doing that at Janelia, but we want to leverage the model that we've put in place here to make discoveries in other areas as well.” –Nelson Spruston on the Janelia new research area competition and why Janelia is an effective place to do science. https://www.janelia.org/our-research/competition/opportunity


We love working with our ECHO colleagues.

Thanks to Shannon Ryan and WDVM for the sweet community piece on ECHO and Janelia Research Campus! View the video: https://www.localdvm.com/news/echo-feature_20190212005609/1774202787


Looking back and looking forward at Janelia

HHMI President Erin O’Shea and Janelia Executive Director Gerry Rubin reflect on Janelia’s past and future. https://elifesciences.org/articles/44826

elifesciences.org Starting a new research campus is a leap of faith. Only later, in the full measure of time, is it possible to take stock of what has worked and what could have been done better or differently. The Janelia Research Campus opened its doors 12 years ago. What has it achieved? What has it taught us? And...


If the dots in the video look like they’re flowing in opposite directions, you’re experiencing the “reverse phi” illusion. In “phi” motion, bright points appear to move right as they disappear and reappear to the right of their previous position. But when the points switch from bright to dark as they shift rightward, our brains see them “moving” to the left: this is “reverse phi.” Now, Janelia scientist James Fitzgerald, Yale University’s Damon Clark, and their colleagues have uncovered how visual neurons in fruit flies process this illusion.

Two parallel pathways in the brain respond to either light or dark moving edges. The reverse-phi effect, like many real-world visual scenes, involves both light and dark stimuli. If the pathways segregate light from dark, the researchers asked, where in the flies’ visual system do these interacting signals combine to create a sense of motion?

Neurons called T4 and T5 cells react selectively to either light or dark moving edges. Scientists had thought that each of these cell types could respond only to light or dark stimuli. But the new results reveal that both cell types actually process a mix of light and dark signals, the team reported December 3, 2018, in the journal, Current Biology. By tracing the source of the motion illusion to the very earliest motion-detecting neurons in the fly’s visual system, the researchers showed that this light-dark mixing is a fundamental feature of the visual processing pathway. https://www.janelia.org/news/tracing-the-origins-of-an-optical-illusion

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Videos (show all)

1. overview_video.mp4
Correlative microscopy overview video .mp4
Movie s1 clip 1.mp4
New Microscope Offers 4-D Look at Embryonic Development in Living Mice
Janelia New Research Area Competition
shrimplike_crustacean from release
MouseLight Demonstration



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