To create comprehensive reference maps of all human cells—the fundamental units of life—as a basis for both understanding human health and diagnosing, monitoring, and treating disease.
The Human Cell Atlas will impact almost every aspect of biology and medicine, ultimately leading to a richer understanding of life’s most fundamental units and principles.
The Human Cell Atlas is a global consortium that is mapping every cell type in the human body, creating a 3-dimensional Atlas of human cells to transform our understanding of biology and disease. The Atlas is likely to lead to major advances in the way illnesses are diagnosed and treated.
There are about 37 trillion cells in the human body and each has its own specialized role. To identify, understand and map each cellular role, HCA researchers use and develop innovative technologies such as single cell transcriptomics, spatial genomics, and computational and AI techniques. These can reveal the active genes and other characteristics in an individual cell to help classify what the cell does, and where exactly it lives and works in the body.
The first draft Human Cell Atlas is being assembled by 18 HCA Biological Networks of different important organs and tissues such as the lung, heart, liver and immune system. Atlases from the HCA Biological Networks are being made available on the HCA Data Portal as they are released.
An open global initiative, the Human Cell Atlas Consortium was founded in 2016 and has grown to more than 3,200 HCA members, from over 1,700 institutes and 99 countries around the world. HCA researchers are studying diverse biology across geography, ethnic diversity and age. The data and maps will be freely available, to help transform future healthcare worldwide.
For more information about the project, please see the HCA Learn More page.