Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative gives $68M to fund Human Cell Atlas projects

An ongoing global project to map the human body cell by cell has receive a $68 million shot in the arm from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. It will support dozens of individual projects contributing to the eponymous atlas of human cells.

The Human Cell Atlas is a collection of projects that aim to document healthy human cells at about as detailed a level as is practical. And CZI has been supporting it for a few years in various ways as part of its ongoing philanthropic work in basic research.

In fact CZI announced that it would be backing these 38 three-year projects some time back, along with 85 one-year projects along the same lines. But the grants process moves slowly, since everything has to be approved, estimated, and arranged beforehand — it’s rare a scientist or lab just gets a blank check for whatever they feel like doing.

The $68 million figure, however, is new, and better delineates the scope of CZI’s involvement with the HCA. The actual projects being backed can be explored here, down to the researchers and institutions responsible for them.

The results of the work and tools created to enable it will be made available freely to other researchers — another priority of CZI is open source software and datasets.

“We’re excited to further support and build interdisciplinary collaborations that will accelerate progress towards a first draft of the Human Cell Atlas,” said CZI’s head of science Cori Bargmann in a press release. It’s a big job, all right. We’ll check back in a few years to see how they’re getting on.

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