Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are helping the National Institutes of Health build a 3D cellular map of the human body that will provide insights into how different tissues work.
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Although the genome is present in all cells, its functions vary in different organs and tissues.
The purpose of the Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) is to show which genes and proteins are activated in each part of the body.
"This is really the next step in the Human Genome Project," says Ziv Bar-Joseph, a professor of computational biology and machine learning at CMU.
The project will provide researchers with deeper insights into how the trillions of cells in our bodies are arranged in tissues to carry out the functions that keep us alive and well.
How different cells are organized, specialized, as well as how they cooperate is key to tissue growth, function, and aging.
If researchers can understand, for example, how the activity of certain immune cells changes, they may be able to detect early warnings of disease, before any symptoms have developed.
We're excited for HuBMAP to start its journey to expand our understanding of the principles of tissue organization. We expect HuBMAP to provide a vital framework for global efforts to comprehensively understand the human body at a biomolecular level."
Dr. James Anderson, NIH
Some of the research groups involved in HuBMAP will produce new data on how cells are organized in different tissues and organs, while others will concentrate on the computational methods needed to process the massive amounts of data and build the high-resolution map.
Building a high-resolution map of the cells within our bodies is a major challenge for both biologists and computer scientists, and will provide a huge payoff for our understanding of disease and aging."
Andrew Moore, Dean of School of Computer Science at CMU