Towards a Human Cell Atlas: Taking Notes from the Past

Trends Genet. 2021 Jul;37(7):625-630. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2021.03.007. Epub 2021 Apr 17.


Comprehensively characterizing the cellular composition and organization of tissues has been a long-term scientific challenge that has limited our ability to study fundamental and clinical aspects of human physiology. The Human Cell Atlas (HCA) is a global collaborative effort to create a reference map of all human cells as a basis for both understanding human health and diagnosing, monitoring, and treating disease. Many aspects of the HCA are analogous to the Human Genome Project (HGP), whose completion presents a major milestone in modern biology. To commemorate the HGP's 20-year anniversary of completion, we discuss the launch of the HCA in light of the HGP, and highlight recent progress by the HCA consortium.

Keywords: Human Cell Atlas; Human Genome Project; single cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Lineage / genetics*
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena / genetics*
  • Cells / classification*
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Human Genome Project
  • Humans