The Human Cell Atlas (HCA) is a global initiative with the mission to create comprehensive reference maps of all human cells – the fundamental units of life – as a basis for both understanding human health and diagnosing, monitoring, and treating disease.

Three prior HCA early pilot studies of the pancreas camee together to form the “Expression and Spatial analysis Pancreas Atlas Consortium Europe”, ESPACE. Based on methods and standards for sample procurement single cell profiling, spatial proteomics, and computational pipelines that were developed in these pilot studies, the ESPACE consortium built a first version of the Human Cell Atlas of the Pancreas.

The ESPACE project had a duration of two and a half years starting from January 1, 2020. The project funding period ended on June 30, 2022.

ESPACE Partners

In ESPACE, leading experts from 10 partners in 6 countries are working together to create the HCA of the pancreas. The following institutions are part of the ESPACE consortium:

  • Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Charité), Germany (Coordinator)
  • Fundacio Centre de Regulacio Genomica (CRG)/ Centro Nacional d’Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG), Spain
  • The Research Fund of Hadassah Medical Organization (RFHMO), Israel
  • Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), The Netherlands
  • Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie Van Wetenschappen (KNAW), The Netherlands
  • Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden
  • Ospedale San Raffaele (OSR), Italy
  • Technische Universität München (TUM), Germany
  • LINQ management GmbH (LINQ), Germany
  • Steinbeis Transfer GmbH (STZ), Germany

H2020-HCA Cluster

ESPACE is part of a cluster consisting of six projects, which have been selected for funding by the European Commission. Each of them is working on a different organ, and they all are to deliver their contributions to the HCA within the next two years.

ESPACE Research

The ESPACE partners have committed to an ambitious research plan for the duration of the project. The work is divided into the following six work packages:

WP1 Tissue groups and sample procurement
Lead: Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC)

WP2 Single cell molecular profiling of the healthy human pancreas
Lead: Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG)

WP3 Single cell molecular profiling of islets from T2D patients
Lead: The Research Fund of Hadassah Medical Organization (RFHMO)

WP4 Spatial analysis of cells and cell identity genes
Lead: Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan (KTH)

WP5 Data management – DCP Pancreas
Lead: Charité – Universitaetsmedizin Berlin (Charité)

WP6 Project management & Dissemination
Lead: Charité – Universitaetsmedizin Berlin (Charité)