Born in Boston on February 5, 1943 to Charles A. and Elizabeth B. Janeway, Janeway was raised in Weston, Mass. He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., and Harvard College, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. His interest in medicine was inspired by his parents: his father Charles Alderson Janeway was Physician-in-Chief at Boston Children’s Hospital from 1946 to 1974, and his mother was a social worker at the Boston Lying-In Hospital.
By earning his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1969, Janeway joined a long family line of prominent physicians. In addition to his father, his grandfather, Theodore C. Janeway, was the first full-time professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his great-grandfather, Edward G. Janeway, was the New York City Health Commissioner.
Janeway trained in basic-science research with Hugh McDevitt at Harvard, John Humphrey at the National Institute for Medical Research in England, and with Robin Coombs at Cambridge University in England. He completed an internal medicine internship at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. Following five years of immunology research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., under William E. Paul, and two years at Uppsala University in Sweden under Hans Wigzell, he joined the Yale faculty in 1977. In 1983 he was promoted to Professor of Pathology and in 1988 he became one of the founding members of the newly created Section of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine.
Janeway was one of the leading immunologists of his generation whose ideas formed many of the concepts that are the basis of immunology today. He made major contributions to our understanding of T lymphocyte biology. He pioneered the modern studies of innate immunity, which is the first line of defense against infections.
Janeway predicted in 1989 that activation of the adaptive immune response is controlled by the more ancient innate immune system. He proposed a general theory of innate immune recognition (pattern recognition theory) and suggested the principles of innate control of adaptive immunity These predictions have been confirmed in subsequent years and now form the conceptual framework for the current understanding of the innate immune system and the links between innate and adaptive immunity.
Janeway made fundamental contributions to many other areas of immunology, including co-discovery of bacterial superantigens and, together with Alexander Rudensky, characterization of self antigens associated with MHC class II molecules.
Janeway is particularly well known as the lead author of Immunobiology, a standard textbook on immunology, which has been renamed Janeway's Immunobiology for the recently published 8th edition in memory of its late lead author. He also published more than 300 scientific papers.
Janeway also served on the board of directors of several research institutes, including the Trudeau Institute, and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. He was president of the American Association of Immunologists from 1997-1998.
Janeway was married to Kim Bottomly, Ph.D., President of Wellesley College from August 2007 until July 2016, and had three daughters: Katherine A. Janeway, M.D., Hannah H. Janeway, M.D., and Megan G. Janeway, M.D.2003 Cancer Research Institute William B. Coley Award
American Association of Immunologists Lifetime Achievement Award
The Avery-Landsteiner Award
Bohmfalk Teaching Award, Yale University (1991)