NEW YORK, Oct. 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, The
Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced
$13 million in new grants to create a
Gut Cell Atlas, cataloguing the many cell types in the small and
large intestines. The initiative aims to understand distinct cell
functions and interactions in human health and Crohn's disease.
Helmsley's Gut Cell Atlas initiative is part of the larger Human
Cell Atlas, an international effort to map all cells in the human
Human bodies are composed of trillions of cells. Each one
matters, yet there is no complete catalog of all the cell types in
the human body and little is known about how cells function and
work together in tissues such as the gut. Advances in technology –
namely analyses of gene expression at single-cell resolution and in
spatial contexts – offer a new frontier for understanding both
health and disease at the cellular level.
Indeed, Helmsley's support will enable researchers to build a
Gut Cell Atlas to examine both healthy and diseased intestinal
tissue, paving the way to identifying key cell types involved in
Crohn's disease and learning what drives their behavior. This will
complement $10 million in prior
Helmsley commitments supporting Crohn's disease research using
"The Gut Cell Atlas will offer unparalleled insights into what
we know about ourselves and our gut, including the role of each
cell in keeping us healthy – or causing disease. Mapping the cells
of the gut is a critical step to realizing our goal of precise,
personalized, and effective treatments for Crohn's patients, while
pursuing a cure," said Dr. Garabet Yeretssian, Director of
Helmsley's Crohn's Disease Program. "Overall, the Human Cell Atlas
will be a major scientific milestone in this century, achieved
equally through creativity and collaboration. We are proud to do
our part by supporting teams to create a Gut Cell
"Helmsley's philanthropic support towards mapping the human gut
will help bring us one step closer to producing the Human Cell
Atlas – a Google map of the 37 trillion cells in the human body,"
said Dr. Sarah Teichmann, co-founder
of the Human Cell Atlas initiative and Head of Cellular Genetics at
the Wellcome Sanger Institute. "The Gut Cell Atlas will help us
uncover what happens in the gut in health and disease and will also
serve as a model for building other comprehensive organ system
Following an open request for applications last year, seven
grants to six different institutions will support scientists to
collaboratively examine the gut in healthy individuals and Crohn's
The following grantees will use a variety of single-cell
analysis techniques to build a Gut Cell Atlas. These researchers
will procure human tissue from both healthy individuals and those
with Crohn's disease, and gather data for gene and protein
expression and cellular localization. Computational biologists will
then analyze the data.
- University of Chicago, led by Dr.
- University of Edinburgh, led by Dr.
- Vanderbilt University Medical
Center led by Dr. Keith Wilson.
One grant project will focus on particular cell types within the
gut. Findings suggest that these cell types may play a key role in
the pathology and/or symptoms of Crohn's disease.
- Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, led by Dr. Guy
Three grantees will pilot novel technologies that, if effective,
will provide a new level of understanding of cellular behavior
leading to inflammation.
- Columbia University, led by Dr.
- University of Chicago, led by Dr.
- University of Zurich, led by
Dr. Andreas Moor.
These represent the first round of grants Helmsley is making to
develop a Gut Cell Atlas.
About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires
to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and
around the world in health and select place-based initiatives.
Since beginning its active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has
committed more than $2 billion for a
wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley's Crohn's Disease
Program supports impactful ideas and mobilizes a global community
committed to improving the lives of Crohn's disease patients while
pursuing a cure. For more information, please visit
Media Contact: Sakgul@helmsleytrust.org
SOURCE Helmsley Charitable Trust