Founded in 1960, the Melnikov Permafrost Institute, a member institution of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, is dedicated to basic and applied investigations in two broad areas:

- permafrost evolution in relation to natural and anthropogenic factors; and

- thermal and mechanical interactions between engineering structures and permafrost.

The Institute scientists are involved in a large number of international, federal and regional problem-focused and integrated programs. The Institute also provides services to organizations and companies on a contract basis. In recent years, several permafrost research programs have been undertaken in support of major industrial developments, such as the South Yakutian hydropower complex; the Talakan oil and gas condensate field, the Elkon uranium deposit, the iron ore and coal fields in southern Yakutia, the Mir, Aikhal and Udchny diamond mines, the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline, the Ulak-Elga and Tommot-Kerdem-Yakutsk railroads, the Vankor gas condensate field, and the Evenki hydropower development on the Lower Tunguska River.

The Institute has 7,877 sq. m of a laboratory and office space, 2,599 sq. m of workshops, and 1,128 sq. m of stockrooms. It maintains a unique underground laboratory about 280 sq. m in area which is used for conducting long-term experiments under constant below-zero temperature of the surrounding soil.

In 1969 the Permafrost Institute was awarded the Red Banner Medal for its major achievements in the field of regional, basic and applied geocryology. In 1995 the Institute was given the name of its founder and first director Academician P.I. Melnikov by Executive Order of President of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) M. Nikolaev.

In 2010 the Institute was granted a license giving the right for educational activities in the fields of engineering geology, geocryology and geotechnical engineering (qualification standard 25.00.08).

The Melnikov Permafrost Institute has a dissertation council established in 1984 and authorized to award degrees in geography, geology & mineralogy, and engineering (qualification standard 25.00.08 – engineering geology, geocryology and geotechnical engineering). From 1991 the Institute maintains undergraduate courses together with the North-Eastern Federal University and from 1998 it offers graduate study programs.

The Institute is a member of the Russian Non-Profit Partnership «Civil Engineering Investigations Association» and holds a license for engineering reconnaissance studies for proposed projects (01-И-№1091 Feb 15, 2010).