The World’s Most Detailed Map Of The Human Body Is In The Works

The Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) was announced last year by the National Institues of Health. This map will be the most detailed 3D map of the human body that should show how our cells work. Last Wednesday a first set of grants was publicized. There are multiple research teams all around the world.

“We have trillions of cells in our bodies, and each cell has a copy of the same DNA, but obviously, the brain does something different than the heart, or our lungs, and so forth. The difference is in what part of the genome each cell is using. But it’s only been the past few years that we’ve been able to look at the set of genes, or the set of proteins, or the set of components that each cell is using,” explained Ziv Bar-Joseph, a professor of computational biology and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University and team leader.

Dealing with the data

Since massive amounts of data are needed, a large team of scientists is required in order to collect all the information. Then, other teams will have to process this data.

“If you want to map even a few thousand cells in the brain, that can create hundreds of gigabytes of data. And that’s one experiment for one location. So overall, the data for this is going to be huge—I mean, petabytes, maybe more. And now the question is, how do you deal with this data?” he said. “So our team is focused on the computational methods of this project.”

If you are familiar with the Human Genome Project you should know that The Human BioMolecular Atlas Program will take things to the next level by making everything 3D. This project should help doctors in the future so that they can identify health problems even before any symptoms are displayed.

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