Sanger scientists receive Chan Zuckerberg Initiative grants to study childhood diseases

Projects will create cell atlases of the paediatric ovary, skin and brain to better understand human biology and provide reference datasets for disease

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Several projects involving researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute have been awarded Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) Paediatric Networks for a Human Cell Atlas grants to study childhood diseases using single-cell technologies.

Roser Vento-Tormo and her collaborators will develop a single-cell map of the paediatric ovary in three dimensions, to better understand gonadal development and disease. Muzlifah Haniffa will lead a project to create a paediatric skin atlas from diverse ancestry to characterise skin biology from birth to puberty. Omer Bayraktar will collaborate on the paediatric ovary project and another to map the paediatric brain.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced $33 million in grants to support collaborative groups of researchers and paediatricians to better understand, prevent, and treat childhood diseases.

These 17 groups of researchers represent 15 different countries, and will contribute healthy paediatric single-cell reference data to the global Human Cell Atlas as a foundational resource for providing insight into the cellular origins of disease onset in children.

“I’m delighted that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has granted funding to our project to map the paediatric ovary. Though reproductive problems such as infertility manifest in adulthood, gonadal development begins in utero and continues throughout childhood and adolescence. This project will help us to overcome some of the barriers to fully understanding reproductive biology and disease.”

Dr Roser Vento-Tormo Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Professor Muzlifah Haniffa, Associate Faculty member at the Sanger Institute, will lead a team to generate a single-cell atlas of healthy skin, which will provide insights into paediatric inflammatory and infectious skin conditions, genetic skin diseases, and disorders specific to skin pigmentation. The data will contribute towards the global Human Cell Atlas (HCA) initiative, which aims to create reference maps of all human cells to understand health and disease.

Dr Omer Bayraktar will also collaborate on a project to construct a single-cell atlas of the developing human brain. The resulting high-resolution maps will provide an unprecedented view of the developing brain to chart and identify features relevant to neurodevelopment and disease.

“Single-cell technologies have incredible potential to accelerate scientific knowledge as researchers work to understand how cells and organs mature and relate to paediatric diseases. We’re excited to welcome CZI’s Paediatric Networks for a Human Cell Atlas teams to our grantee community, and for these researchers and paediatricians to make progress on addressing childhood diseases.”

Jonah Cool CZI Science Program Officer for Single-Cell Biology

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