Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $68 Million To Further Develop The Human Cell Atlas

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The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has 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 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 (HCA), an international effort to map all cells in the human body.

Founded by Priscilla Chan, MD and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, CZI is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges; from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone.

Participants in the three-year Seed Networks projects will focus on mapping specific tissues, such as the heart, eye, or liver, in the healthy human body. The resulting cellular and molecular maps will be a resource for understanding what goes wrong when disease strikes. The Seed Networks grantees represent 20 countries and more than 200 labs, with 45 percent of projects featuring international collaborations. The networks will support coordination between scientists, physicians, and engineers, solidify collaborations, and help generate valuable data and tools for the first draft of the Atlas.

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The Human Cell Atlas is a scientist-led initiative that has emerged as a collaborative federation of diverse experts in biology, computation, and medicine. The Seed Networks projects seek to provide additional support to ongoing collaborative networks and invite new participants to this effort. Investigators in the Seed Networks will have the opportunity to learn and collaborate with the community, as well as with CZI computational biologists and software engineers.

The Seed Networks projects will generate new tools, open source analysis methods, and significant contributions of diverse data types to the Human Cell Atlas Data Coordination Platform, a unified resource that will enable data sharing across researchers and research institutes. All of the data, protocols, and computational tools developed as a part of Seed Networks will be freely available to the research community. 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 this Data Coordination Platform.

“The global Human Cell Atlas effort is a beacon for what can be accomplished when experts across scientific fields and time zones work together towards a common goal.” … “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.” – Cori Bargmann, CZI Head of Science