Ten months into the project, the ESPACE consortium got together in a virtual meeting on October 22-23, 2020, to update each other on the current project progress and discuss next steps.
The meeting was hosted by the Project Coordinator at Charité, Berlin, Germany, and joined by representatives from all ten ESPACE partners.
ESPACE aims to contribute to the building of a Human Cell Atlas (HCA) of the pancreas. The consortium set ambitious goals for the two-year runtime of the project and is on track for achieving them. Despite the restrictions and delays caused by COVID-19, ESPACE was able to carry out most of the work as planned for the first year and submitted all Deliverables on time. The partners at LUMC were able to procure healthy pancreas samples, the Charité made progress on setting up an IT infrastructure for the project’s data storage, first single cell analyses have been done, and communication and dissemination activities have kicked off. In other areas, the team adapted to the ongoing unexpected restrictions forcing them to change their everyday work routines. For example, the consortium conducted online trainings for sample procurement instead of the originally planned in-person trainings.
At the meeting, the consortium took stock of what has already been achieved and discussed how to proceed in the upcoming months. Specific next steps include the selection of protein markers for the spatial analysis of cells, the alignment of meta-data with the HCA Data Coordination Platform and continuing the single cell analyses of the pancreas.
The consortium welcomed Enrique Sapena Ventura, Laura Clarke (both HCA DCP) and Mauro Muraro (Single Cell Discoveries), who is the Chair of the ESPACE Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), as guests at the meeting. Enrique Sapena Ventura introduced the HCA DCP. Based on this overview, Laura Clarke and Enrique Sapena Ventura discussed with the consortium how activities can be further aligned with the HCA so that a smooth data transfer to the HCA is ensured. Mauro Muraro gave valuable feedback on the ESPACE activities. It is planned to extend this feedback session in a meeting of the SAC in January 2021.