The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group has announced a four-year, $10 million grant — with the possibility of an increase to $30 million over eight years — to create a center for global cell mapping at UW Medicine in Seattle.
The Allen Discovery Center for Cell Lineage Tracing will use newly developed technology to create lineage maps that reveal the relationships between the vast numbers of diverse cells comprising a single organism, with significant implications for the fields of developmental biology, neuroscience, cancer biology, and regenerative medicine, among others. Initially, the center, which will be directed by Jay Shendure, a professor of genomic sciences at the University of Washington, and co-directed by Michael Elowitz of the California Institute of Technology, with Harvard University's Alex Schier serving as site director, will use the technology to develop maps for the zebrafish and mouse — the first global maps for any vertebrate species — and will also work to develop genomic systems to record the molecular events that regulate cell development in the two species.
"Each of us began as a single cell, which divided and specialized into the trillions of cells that make up an adult human," said Allen Frontiers Group executive director Tom Skalak. "A fundamental scientific question is how this lineage of cells comes to be. Th[e] Allen Discovery Center is poised to produce solutions to this question, which would be transformative for many fields of bioscience."