Home / Sections / Briefs / The Human Cell Atlas Project

The Human Cell Atlas Project


Date: March 13, 2018
Dendritic cells in the small intestine

Dendritic cells in the small intestine

As scientists scramble to outmaneuver the diseases that threaten human health, a comprehensive roadmap of the body’s healthy cells may soon help steer them in the right direction.

Some 38 international research teams are joining forces to map and characterize every cell in the human body in a project called the Human Cell Atlas. The project is funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Among the investigators partaking in this prestigious international project is Prof. Ido Amit of the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Immunology.

“The huge revolution taking place in the development of new technologies is helping us realize our vision: the creation of a complete reference of all human cells, which will be a critical reference map similar to chemistry's periodic table of elements,” Prof. Amit says. “This will allow us to understand how healthy and diseased cells work, something that will ultimately aid in the development of new diagnostics and drugs.”

Prof. Amit’s team is the sole Israeli group in the program, and one of 12 teams outside the U.S. Together with Prof. Amos Tanay from the Department of Biological Regulation and Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, he is developing technologies to help map the cells of the bone marrow and blood, The scientists hope to improve the diagnosis and treatment of various blood cancers, such as multiple myeloma and lymphoma, by identifying rare cells and their corresponding genes implicated in various malignancies.

Prof. Ido Amit is supported by the Fondation Adelis, the BLG Trust, the Comisaroff Family Trust, the European Research Council, the Alan and Laraine Fischer Foundation, Drs. Herbert and Esther Hecht, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Estate of Lydia Hershkovich, the Estate of David Levinson, Isa Lior, the David M. Polen Charitable Trust, the Rising Tide Foundation, the Rosenwasser Fund for Biomedical Research, The Felix and Silvia Schnur Endowment Fund in Stem Cell Research, David and Fela Shapell Family Foundation, Vanguard Charitable Foundation, and The Wolfson Family Charitable Trust. He is the recipient of the Helen and Martin Kimmel Award for Innovative Investigation.

Prof. Amos Tanay is supported by Judith Benattar; David and Molly Bloom; the Estate of Lydia Hershkovich; Barry and Janet Lang; the Ilana and Pascal Mantoux Institute for Bioinformatics, which he heads; The Ruth and Samuel Rosenwasser Charitable Fund; the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations; the Steven B. Rubenstein Research Fund for Leukemia and Other Blood Disorders; the Estate of Alice Schwarz-Gardos; the William P. and Gertrude Schweitzer Foundation; the David and Fela Shapell Family Foundation G-INCPM Fund for Preclinical Studies; Prof. Amnon Shashua; and The Wolfson Family Charitable Trust. He is the recipient of the Helen and Martin Kimmel Award for Innovative Investigation.