A roadmap for the Human Developmental Cell Atlas

The Human Developmental Cell Atlas (HDCA) initiative, which is part of the Human Cell Atlas (HCA), aims to create a comprehensive reference map of cells during development. This will be critical to understanding normal organogenesis, the effect of mutations, environmental factors and infectious agents on human development, congenital and childhood disorders, and the cellular basis of aging, cancer, and regenerative medicine.

In this Perspective, Heather Etchevers, Stéphane Zaffran, and their many collaborators outlined the HDCA initiative (the HuDeCA consortium in France is a major partner). They discussed some of the challenges of mapping and modelling human development using state-of-the-art technologies to create a reference atlas across gestation.

The review was published on September 8th, 2021, in the journal Nature. This work could not have been performed without the assistance of many members of the Zaffran, Etchevers, and Brue groups at Marseille Medical Genetics, its Genomics and Bioinformatics platform, and the collaboration of multiple sites of the Marseille public teaching hospital (AP-HM) network.

Heather and Stéphane likewise hosted a recorded breakout session on how to make use of atlas data in the study of abnormal development at the recent online HCA Developmental and Pediatric Cell Atlas Meeting on August 25-27th, 2021, which should have been held in Toronto, Ontario. The next edition is tentatively scheduled for Paris, France, in the autumn of 2022.