Human Cell Atlas


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.


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

  • 13. Aug. 2019.

    HCA Eighth General Meeting, 10-11 October 2019, Spain

    The 8th Human Cell Atlas Meeting will take place on October 10 - 11, 2019 at CosmoCaixa [], in Barcelona, Spain.

    The meeting’s theme is “Building the Human Cell Atlas Roadmap.” We will explore how to build out draft roadmaps for the various organ atlases in plenary and breakout sessions. We will also include interactive demos of HCA datasets in action and have a technical focus on spatial genomics.

    Day 1, 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. with a group dinner to follow

    Day 2, 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

    Open Registration will go live Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 5:00 a.m. EST.  We have a limited amount of open registration spots, therefore, we encourage you to register immediately.

    Note: In order to receive an Open Registration invite, you must be a member of the HCA Project Registry.  To register, click here.

    Site Map:

    Hotel Information:  Catalonia Hotel chain has offered a 10% discount for HCA meeting attendees.  For information on how to book a room at one of their properties, click here

    Hotel Catalonia Park Güell, Catalonia Park Putxet, Hotel Catalonia Barcelona 505, and Hotel Catalonia Mikado are all under 2 kilometers to/from the venue. (5-10 minute cab ride and 20-30 minute walk.)

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  • 7. Aug. 2019.

    Call for travel scholarships for HCA DCP data contributors to the October 10 & 11, 2019, HCA Meeting in Spain

    We are delighted to announce travel scholarships for HCA Data contributors for the upcoming October 10 & 11, 2019, Human Cell Atlas Meeting to be held in Barcelona, Spain. These scholarships follow the posting of the new HCA Data Release Policy, which encourages data submission prior to publication in a peer-reviewed journal (no accession number available). To support and encourage the community along this path, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will provide a one-time incentive to reimburse travel for members of the community who contribute pre-publication data to the HCA DCP. A subset of scholarship winners will also be selected to give a short talk at the meeting.

    To apply, please follow the steps below:

    1. Register as an HCA member through the HCA Project registry, if you have not already done so. Click here to register.

    2. Submit a pre-publication dataset to the HCA DCP, if you have not already done so.

    3. Ensure that the data you submit is unpublished and conforms to the standards of the DCP. To be eligible, the data must be derived from normal human tissue, have institutional approval for full open access to raw data (e.g. fastq), and be generated using SMART-Seq2, droplet based scRNA-seq or other single cell/nucleus transcriptomics methods. The data must not have a pre-existing accession number or be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Please review the terms of use or reach out to the DCP team for clarification.

    4. Send a 100-word abstract that describes your project and data along with a list of collaborators to


    Applications are due Friday 16 August 2019 and notifications will be sent out the week of 09 September 2019


    Should you have any questions please reach out to

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