NYU Abu Dhabi Assistant Professor of Biology Youssef Idaghdour is among the international researchers and collaborators to be awarded funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) to deliver a globally inclusive immune cell atlas in rural and urban populations of African ancestry.
This project, titled African Ancestry Immune Cell Atlas, awarded approximately USD 2.7 million, focuses on studying immune cell variation on a population scale, to power association studies between environmental, genetic, and immunological variables.
The human immune system is composed of multiple interrelated and complementary sub-systems of defense that protect against pathogens and tumor cells. Immune cells are ideal as a model to study interactions given the responsiveness of its components to a range of external factors including pathogens, stress, nutritional, social, and other environmental factors. A cellular ‘road-map’ of ancestrally inclusive immune cell samples will provide fundamental metrics to define the diverse cells of the immune system.
This project is part of a larger plan that was announced by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, highlighting that USD 28 million in grants will be made available to support the inclusion of data from tissue samples from ancestrally diverse donors in the Human Cell Atlas (HCA). The program consists of 16 teams of researchers – including single-cell biologists, tissue experts, computational biologists, and community-engaged researchers – representing 31 different countries, who are working on various tissues and biological systems. These new projects will provide insights into how genetic ancestry influences health and disease at the level of our cells, resulting in a scientific resource that will be more representative of the diversity found in the global human population.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of local communities. Its mission is to build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone.