Australia joins world-first Human Cell Atlas effort

09 November 2017
Scientists from across Australia have joined the Human Cell Atlas project.
Scientists from 14 of Australia’s biomedical centres have joined forces as part of a coordinated national approach to the Human Cell Atlas, an ambitious global initiative to create an ‘instruction manual for life itself.’

The Human Cell Atlas is a bold effort to map every single cell in the human body for a freely accessible database that could have a significant impact on how diseases are understood, diagnosed, monitored and treated. 

Similar to the Human Genome Project, which catalogued the first full human DNA sequence and has since seen many medical success stories, The Human Cell Atlas has the potential to propel translational discoveries and applications for a new era of personalised and regenerative medicine.

Helping to lead Australia’s involvement is Dr Shalin Naik, a member of the Human Cell Atlas organising committee and cellular biologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Dr Naik said while cells were the building blocks of all living things, knowledge of them was surprisingly limited.

“The Human Cell Atlas holds similarly exciting potential for health. It could help to create a map for predicting disease, even before symptoms are observed or detected,” said  Dr Joseph Powell from The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience. 

The Human Cell Atlas strives to be open, equitable and collaborative across the globe and organising committee co-chairs, Drs Regev and Teichman commented “We are excited to see Australian biomedical researchers coordinating and joining this effort.”

Stem Cells Australia Deputy Program leader, Professor Christine Wells, congratulated Drs Naik and Powell, for their leadership in bringing the Human Cell Atlas to Australia. SCA looks forward to contributing not only to the project, but also to the ethos of sharing and discovering. 

Dr Shalin Naik is an Affiliate Investigator with Stem Cells Australia. 

For more information:
Read the full article on The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research website.
Read the news piece on the ABC  website. 
Read the news piece in the Herald Sun.