Human Cell Atlas

HCA|Organoid has been specifically designed to become a key partner in the global Human Cell Atlas (HCA) initiative. The project is one of six pilot actions funded by the European Union to significantly contribute to the HCA mission.

Launched by a group of world-leading scientists in October 2016, the HCA seeks to “create comprehensive reference maps of all human cells – the fundamental units of life – as a basis for both understanding human health and diagnosing, monitoring, and treating disease”. This collection of cellular reference maps – the so-called “cell atlas” – strives to characterise each of the thousands of cell types in the human body and to identify where they can be found. It aims to empower the global research community to systematically study the biological changes associated with different diseases, understand where genes associated with disease are active in our bodies, analyse the molecular mechanisms that govern the production and activity of different cell types, and sort out how different cell types combine and work together to form tissues.

In the HCA Whitepaper published in 2017, the HCA identified and prioritised 12 human biological systems (plus “model organisms” as non‐human focus), one of which is “Organoids”. Hence, the HCA|Organoid project provides a natural fit and important contribution to the initiative: First, it takes the lead for the biological system “Organoids” and will establish an initial “Organoid Cell Atlas” as emphasised in the HCA Whitepaper. Second, it makes relevant organoid‐related contributions to the infrastructural framework of the HCA, by firmly establishing organoid technology within the HCA, by coordinating an integrative analysis to connect data between organoids and primary tissues, and by establishing a prototypic “HCA|Organoid Data Portal”. Third, the HCA|Organoid project will include matched primary samples for colon, liver, and pancreas, and it links to non‐matched brain samples. As such, the project will establish a strong interface and synergy with other parts of the HCA.

With several HCA|Organoid members already active in different HCA roles, committees and working groups, the team can build on already strong and well-established links on various strategic and operational levels of the initiative. The team will actively embrace their role in the HCA aiming to contribute to HCA‐led collaboration on topics such as ethics, data sharing, and data integrative analysis.