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

  • 21. Jun. 2019.

    Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $68 Million to Support the Growth of the Human Cell Atlas

    New grants support networks of scientists from diverse disciplines who study a variety of healthy human organs

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced $68 million in funding to support the Human Cell Atlas and its selection of 38 collaborative science teams to launch CZI’s Seed Networks for a Human Cell Atlas projects. These collaborative groups bring together scientists, computational biologists, software engineers, and physicians to support the continued development of the Human Cell Atlas.

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  • 16. May. 2019.

    HCA Seventh General Meeting, 23-24 May 2019, Tokyo

    Hosted by the RIKEN Institute and kindly supported by The Kavli Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

    The meeting will include updates on the State of the HCA, the latest from working groups, biological networks, and major efforts, as well as roundtable discussions focused on the ongoing pilot projects and networks. 

    While participation in person in the HCA General Meetings is by invitation, all are welcome to register here  to join remotely. They will be listed as formal attendees



    Please download the agenda here.



    Live stream link here.



    The meeting will take place at Plaza Heisei, Tokyo, Japan 


    Corporate Meeting Sponsors: 10X and Sony Imaging Products & Solutions, Inc

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