Human Cell Atlas

Mission

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.

ABOUT HUMAN CELL ATLAS

In London on 13 and 14 October, 2016, a collaborative community of world-leading scientists met and discussed how to build a Human Cell Atlas—a collection of maps that will describe and define the cellular basis of health and disease.

Cells are the most fundamental unit of life, yet we know surprisingly little about them. They vary enormously within the body, and express different sets of genes. Without maps of different cell types and where they are located in the body, we cannot describe all their functions and understand the biological networks that direct their activities.

A complete Human Cell Atlas would give us a unique ID card for each cell type, a three-dimensional map of how cell types work together to form tissues, knowledge of how all body systems are connected, and insights into how changes in the map underlie health and disease. It would allow us to identify which genes associated with disease are active in our bodies and where, and analyze the regulatory mechanisms that govern the production of different cell types.

This has been a key challenge in biology for more than 150 years. New tools such as single-cell genomics have put it within reach. It is an ambitious but achievable goal, and requires an international community of biologists, clinicians, technologists, physicists, computational scientists, software engineers, and mathematicians.

A White Paper, openly available for download, provides an overview of the effort; our framework for the first draft of the atlas; descriptions of the technology and data analysis tools available to build the atlas; an introduction to the Data Coordination Platform that will host the data for researchers worldwide; a deeper look at biological systems we plan to explore and map; and details on the organization and governance of the HCA consortium and its relationships to the public (including ethical considerations regarding organ and tissue donors) and to funding support.

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Latest News

  • 6. Sep. 2018.

    Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Imaging Scientists

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invites applications for five-year grants to support Imaging Scientists employed in imaging centers at non-profit universities or university-affiliated research institutes within the United States.

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) seeks to support up to 10 Imaging Scientists who will work at the interface of biology, microscopy hardware, and imaging software at imaging centers across the United States. “Imaging Scientists” might be engineers, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, or biologists who have focused on technology development in either microscopy or data analysis fields. The primary goal of the program is to increase interactions between biologists and technology experts. The Imaging Scientists will have expertise in microscopy hardware and/or imaging software. A successful “Imaging Program” will employ an Imaging Scientist who: a) works collaboratively with experimental biologists on projects at the imaging center; b) participates in courses that disseminate advanced microscopy methods and analysis; c) trains students and postdocs in imaging technology; d) participates in a network of CZI Imaging Scientists to identify needs and drive advances in the imaging field; e) attends twice-yearly CZI scientific workshops and meetings in imaging and adjacent biomedical areas. Each grant will fund salary and fringe benefits for an Imaging Scientist at the center, a modest travel and teaching budget, plus 15% indirect costs. The award period is three years plus an additional two years if the Imaging Program passes a review at year three.

    Further details available here

     

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