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Hongkui Zeng elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Zeng was chosen for her contributions to understanding the cells and connections of the brain.


2 min read

Hongkui Zeng, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Director of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a division of the Allen Institute, was today elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences for her work to understand the cells and connections in the mammalian brain, and leading the development of tools and openly available data resources that accelerate brain research worldwide. “I am deeply honored to become a member of the National Academy of Sciences, joining more than 3,000 brilliant scientists around the country and the world,” said Zeng. “I feel incredibly fortunate to work at the Allen Institute alongside so many amazing colleagues. Together we have made a true impact to our understanding of brain function and brain diseases, by pioneering large-scale team science and open science approaches.”

Hongkui Zeng in a lab with another researcher
Hongkui Zeng, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Director of the Allen Institute for Brain Science

Zeng is among 120 new members and 23 international members elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year. The Academy recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and—with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine—provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

“Hongkui’s tireless dedication to solving the mysteries of the brain’s cellular make-up is an inspiration to all of us in neuroscience,” said Rui Costa, D.V.M., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Allen Institute. “Her leadership and vision for large, pioneering programs represent the epitome of team science. The impact she’s had on the Institute and on the scientific community is immeasurable.”

Zeng joined the Allen Institute in 2006. During the last two decades, she has organized and led multidisciplinary teams to develop and operate high-throughput pipelines to generate large-scale, open-access datasets and tools to accelerate neuroscience discovery, with a focus on characterizing the cell type and circuit organization in the mouse brain as the foundation for understanding brain function and diseases.

Zeng is featured in an interview at the 9-minute mark.

Zeng has led several key research programs including the Transgenic Technology program (gene modification); the Human Cortex Gene Survey project; the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas (mapping connections between different regions of the mouse brain), one of the Allen Institute’s most widely downloaded and used open-data resources; and most notably, the Cell Types program to create transcriptomic (gene expression) and multimodal cell type classifications that have been widely regarded as high-quality standards in the field.

hongkui Zeng next to an image of the brain

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Zeng is also the principal investigator on several large National Institutes of Health-funded research projects and programs, most recently as one of the principal investigators on a global collaboration through the BRAIN Initiative® Cell Atlas Network to map the entire human, macaque and marmoset brains by their cells and functions.

Earlier this year, the National Academy of Sciences awarded Zeng with the prestigious Pradel Research Award for her pioneering work in neuroscience.

About Allen Institute for Brain Science

The Allen Institute for Brain Science is a division of the Allen Institute, an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit medical research organization, and is dedicated to accelerating the understanding of how the human brain works in health and disease. Using a big science approach, the Allen Institute generates useful public resources used by researchers and organizations around the globe, drives technological and analytical advances, and discovers fundamental brain properties through integration of experiments, modeling and theory. Launched in 2003 with a seed contribution from founder and philanthropist, the late Paul G. Allen, the Allen Institute is supported by a diversity of government, foundation and private funds to enable its projects. The Allen Institute for Brain Science’s data and tools are publicly available online at