University of Dundee

Dundee joins global effort to build Human Cell Atlas

20 Apr 2018

The University of Dundee is joining a global effort – with the help of funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – to support development of the Human Cell Atlas, a global effort to map every type of cell in the healthy human body as a resource for studies of health and disease.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) and DAF, an advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation have announced new funding for 85 projects to support the Human Cell Atlas. The grants total $15 million over one year. Projects are focused on developing open computational tools, algorithms, visualizations, and benchmark datasets to enable researchers around the globe to work with the large variety of molecular and imaging data being generated by scientists working on the Human Cell Atlas. The grantees will also collaborate with each other, and with CZI’s scientists and software engineers, to maximize the impact of the new tools and technologies.

The Open Microscopy Environment based within the School of Life Sciences, established by Professor Jason Swedlow, is one of the world’s leading centres in developing tools which can be used for the generation, storage, analysis and sharing of `big data’ emerging from scientific imaging projects. Professor Swedlow said, “We are delighted to join with partners around the world in making the Human Cell Atlas a reality. This project is going to present many challenges for how we gather, share and analyse massive amounts of imaging data but it will also power major advances in the definition of novel cell types. Being part of this global effort is a recognition of the expertise we have established here at Dundee.”

CZI said 85 collaborative projects are being recommended for funding in response to an open Request for Applications issued in July 2017. Funding is being awarded to 83 principal investigators at 53 institutions, and in nine countries spanning four continents.

Priscilla Chan MD, co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said, “I am thrilled to welcome this distinguished group of grantees to the CZI family, and I am excited about how they will support the ambitious Human Cell Atlas effort. Working together and with our team of scientists and engineers, these partners will create new ways for scientists to use information about healthy and diseased cells. Their efforts will help to accelerate progress toward our goal of curing, preventing, or managing all diseases by the end of the century.”

Cori Bargmann, Head of Science for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, added, “We are excited to begin working on these promising projects with new partners from across the globe. These grantees include experts in experimental biology, engineering, and computational biology. Enabling them to collaborate and bring their diverse perspectives to the work is the core of our approach to advancing biomedical science.”

Over the course of the next year, the grantees will work together and share progress to coordinate efforts and maximize the usability of these tools. Working with CZI’s science and software engineering teams, they will work to bring these tools to the broader scientific community and where appropriate, link them to the Human Cell Atlas Data Coordination Platform. This new funding round marks the third set of projects CZI is funding in support of the Human Cell Atlas. Last year, CZI announced funding and engineering support to build a Data Coordination Platform, and funding for 38 pilot projects to help new technologies, best practices, and data analysis techniques.

Detailed information on each project is available at this link: https://www.chanzuckerberg.com/human-cell-atlas/comp-tools

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