Point of View: Looking back and looking forward at Janelia

  1. Gerald M Rubin  Is a corresponding author
  2. Erin K O'Shea
  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, United States
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A view of the Janelia Research Campus in 2015.

The building in the foreground is the 96-room guest house, primarily used to house conference participants and other short-term visitors. Above the guest house is the main research building, a three-story structure terraced into the side of a hill. The brick farm and carriage houses belonging to the original Janelia Farm can be seen near the top center. To the left are 60- and 80-unit apartment buildings that, along with 21 studio apartments and 34 multi-bedroom townhouses (not shown in this view), provide housing for more than one-quarter of those working on campus. An additional 100-unit apartment building and six single-family residences are planned. The Potomac River is approximately 300 meters to the North (downward). The campus covers an area of 281 acres plus a 408-acre island, Selden Island, located in the Potomac River and connected by a bridge. Photograph credit: Anthony Leonardo/HHMI.

Plan for the scheduled turnover of research areas at Janelia.

The first new research area, Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience, will address the question "How does the brain enable cognition?" The scientists establishing this area have been selected from current Janelia group leaders working on several model organisms. Additional group leaders are now being recruited. The second research area will be selected after an open, international competition in 2019/2020. We expect a third research area to be selected similarly in 2024/2025. Thus, at steady state, Janelia will have three research areas, with one turning over every five years. The addition of a third research area would represent an expansion of Janelia’s current size and increase the number of group leaders from roughly 45 to 60.

Group leaders at Janelia.

Individuals recruited at the start of their independent careers are given an initial five-year term and provided with funds to support two lab members plus access to Janelia’s shared scientific resources. Because the group leader is able to focus on their research, and also has access to the shared infrastructure at Janelia, we believe this group size is equivalent to a group of five in a typical academic setting. Collaboration between groups with different expertise can further increase a group’s intellectual and technical breadth and thus its virtual size. For those who pass their first review, the appointment will be extended for another five years accompanied by an increase in group size. At the end of this second appointment, individuals will be eligible to compete for a "transfer ticket" that would allow them to continue their HHMI support as an HHMI investigator at another institution; those who do not pass their ten-year review will be given two years of transitional funding (roughly corresponding to $1.5 million). Senior group leaders will make up about one-third of all group leaders in each research area and have seven-year terms that can be renewed one time. In addition to running their own research groups, they are expected to contribute to the recruitment and mentoring of their more junior colleagues. Senior group leaders can also compete for a transfer ticket that allows them to move to another institution as an HHMI investigator at the end of their term, and if they are not successful they will be given transitional funding roughly equivalent to three years of their annual budget.

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  1. Gerald M Rubin
  2. Erin K O'Shea
Point of View: Looking back and looking forward at Janelia
eLife 8:e44826.