Toward a Common Coordinate Framework for the Human Body

Cell. 2019 Dec 12;179(7):1455-1467. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.019.


Understanding the genetic and molecular drivers of phenotypic heterogeneity across individuals is central to biology. As new technologies enable fine-grained and spatially resolved molecular profiling, we need new computational approaches to integrate data from the same organ across different individuals into a consistent reference and to construct maps of molecular and cellular organization at histological and anatomical scales. Here, we review previous efforts and discuss challenges involved in establishing such a common coordinate framework, the underlying map of tissues and organs. We focus on strategies to handle anatomical variation across individuals and highlight the need for new technologies and analytical methods spanning multiple hierarchical scales of spatial resolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anatomic Variation*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Diagnostic Imaging / standards*
  • Humans
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Physical Examination / standards*
  • Reference Standards