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How We Began

The Allen Institute was founded in 2003 by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, who sought to push the limits of human exploration in science.

Initially founded to map gene activity in the mouse brain, the Institute’s work quickly expanded to catalogue the constellation of cells and their connections in the mouse and human brain, along with deep research into the human immune system; inner workings of our cells; and identifying transformative, paradigm-shifting science around the world.

Today, our multidisciplinary approach at tackling large-scale, foundational research serves as the bedrock for scientific discovery and continues to advance the frontiers of bioscience.

Our Founders

Investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen spent his career tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975, mapped new frontiers and fueled exploration across a broad range of areas as the chairman of Vulcan, the Seattle-based company that he co-founded with his sister, Jody Allen, to oversee his business and philanthropic portfolio. With lifetime giving totaling over $2.65 billion, Allen is included among the world’s leading philanthropists who, through the Giving Pledge, dedicated the majority of their fortunes to charity.

Jodie and Paul Allen
Jody and Paul Allen

Allen, who died in 2018, was a visionary who sparked important developments and innovations in science, technology, education, conservation, and the arts. His desire to accelerate understanding of the human brain in health and disease led him to start the Allen Institute for Brain Science in 2003, which ultimately expanded to include the Allen Institute for Cell Science, The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, the Allen Institute for Immunology, and the Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics. Today, Paul Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, honors his legacy as Board Chair of the Allen Institute, helping direct our mission to transform human health through science for generations to come.

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Portrait of Allen Institute founder Paul G. Allen in a research lab.

A tribute to our founder, Paul G. Allen

Allan Jones, Ph.D., was Allen Institute’s first Chief Executive Officer

With a focus on impact, and years of pharmaceutical industry experience, Jones developed an organizational culture that brought dedicated scientists from multiple disciplines together to conquer scientific challenges at scale. Under his leadership, the Allen Institute grew to include the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Allen Institute for Cell Science, Allen Institute for Immunology, Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics, and the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group. After 18 years with the organization, Jones stepped down as President and CEO in January 2022.

Allan Jones, Ph.D.

Our History

The Allen Institute Today

The Allen Institute’s scientific mission has grown beyond the Allen Institute for Brain Science to include the Allen Institute for Cell Science, The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, the Allen Institute for Immunology, and the Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics — all working to unlock the complexities of bioscience and advance our knowledge to improve human health.

From a small but mighty team of four in 2003, the Allen Institute is now more than 700 strong, has been cited thousands of times in scientific papers, and shares dozens of petabytes of open data with the world.

Large group photos of Allen Institute Staff - Allenites
2023 All-Allenite photo


Science Programs at Allen Institute