The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced grants totaling $68 million in support of the continued development of the Human Cell Atlas (HCA), an international effort to map all cells in the human body.
The grants will launch the Seed Networks for the Human Cell Atlas and fund more than three dozen interdisciplinary teams working to create cellular and molecular maps of specific tissues in a healthy body that can serve as a resource for advancing understanding of what goes wrong when disease strikes. Team members represent twenty countries and more than two hundred labs, with 45 percent of the projects featuring international collaborations.
According to CZI, Seed Networks projects will generate new tools, open-source analysis methods, and significant contributions of data to the Human Cell Atlas Data Coordination Platform, enabling data sharing among researchers and research institutes. To that end, CZI is working with the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and the University of California, Santa Cruz to formulate, fund, and jointly build the platform. All the data, protocols, and computational tools developed as a part of the effort will be available free of charge to the research community.
Over the past two years, CZI has supported eighty-five projects aimed at creating collaborative computational tools in support of building HCA, as well as thirty-eight pilots that have helped establish best practices and technological solutions.
"The global Human Cell Atlas effort is a beacon for what can be accomplished when experts across scientific fields and time zones work together toward a common goal," said CZI head of science Cori Bargmann. "With CZI's Seed Networks grants, we're excited to further support and build interdisciplinary collaborations that will accelerate progress towards a first draft of the Human Cell Atlas."
For a complete list of grant recipients, see the CZI website.
(Photo credit: Baylor University)