About the Gut Cell Atlas

The Gut Cell Atlas initiative aims to catalogue the many cell types in the small and large intestines. The Gut Cell Atlas is part of the pathbreaking global Human Cell Atlas effort, which is transforming what we know about cells and their function in human health.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is focused on finding a cure for Crohn’s disease. This is a long-term pursuit, so in parallel we are dedicated to improving patients’ lives today.

The creation of a Gut Cell Atlas, with Helmsley support, will offer tremendous potential to achieve both goals. It will enable better understanding of the disease and spur new, more personalized treatments on the path to prevention and a cure – not just for Crohn’s disease, but for improving gut health overall.

Meet the Grantees

“Many complex diseases like Crohn’s disease, autism, allergies, diabetes are on the rise and as a result of our complex lifestyle. I am hopeful that the global concerted Human Cell Atlas initiative will continue to generate state-of-the-art tools and knowledge needed to understand such complex diseases and lead to treatments and prevention strategies.”

Anindita (Oni) Basu, University of Chicago

Meet the Grantees

“We will generate datasets that will be of use to researchers around the world for the benefit of Crohn’s disease patients.”

Mark Arends, University of Edinburgh

Meet the Grantees

“Working on the Gut Cell Atlas will provide the opportunity to collect unprecedented scientific information on individual cells of the human gut both in health and in Crohn’s disease.”

Guy Boeckxstaens, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Meet the Grantees

“The Gut Cell Atlas is a bold endeavor that aims to understand the cells in the gut at the single-cell level, how their organization and interactions in the gut orchestrate tissue function, and what goes awry during Crohn's disease. The better we understand the individual components of the system, and how they work together, or cease to do so in disease, the better we're positioned to develop effective therapies.”

Jellert Gaublomme, Columbia University

Meet the Grantees

“The last few years have brought unprecedented technical advances in the field of single cell genomics. These novel developments enable us to shed light on pathophysiology in disease areas with unmet medical needs.”

Andreas Moor, University of Zurich

Meet the Grantees

“Our hope is that the Gut Cell Atlas will give us the capacity to work one cell at a time so we can develop completely new insights into the biological basis for Crohn’s disease. This should lead to out-of-the-box thinking, and thus new ways to address this debilitating disorder.”

Keith Wilson, Vanderbilt University Medical Center


Here is the latest news about the Gut Cell Atlas.

We will post updates about research, meetings, and publications.


Scientists to Create a “Gut Cell Atlas” With Funding from the Helmsley Charitable Trust

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.

“Our bodies are made of tens of trillions of cells of many different types that work together to maintain function in the face of constant change, like a fine-tuned symphony; disease occurs when these cells no longer work together in harmony.”

“By building an atlas of cells in the colon of healthy individuals or individuals with Crohn’s disease, we should be able to identify key cell types involved in the disease, and understand the molecules driving their behavior, which could lead to new therapies.”
Aviv Regev, Broad Institute
Co-founder of the Human Cell Atlas

The Human Cell Atlas seeks to create comprehensive reference maps of all cells – the fundamental units of life – as a basis for both understanding human health and diagnosing, monitoring, and treating disease.

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