RIKEN IMS Receives CZI Ancestry Network Grant to Investigate Immune Diversity in Japan and Asia

December 20, 2021 NEWS

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative(CZI) announced $28 million in grants to support the inclusion of data from tissue samples from ancestrally diverse donors in the Human Cell Atlas (HCA). These 16 teams of researchers--including single-cell biologists, tissue experts, computational biologists, and community-engaged researchers--represent 31 different countries. These new projects will provide insights into how genetic ancestry influences health and disease at the level of our cells, resulting in a scientific resource that will be more representative of the diversity found in the global human population.

Drs. Jay W Shin and Chung Chau Hon from RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences are the awardees from Japan to explore the immune diversity in Japan and across Asia to discover risk factors for disease and ageing. "Why do individuals from different parts of Japan exhibit varying longevity?" Asks Dr. Shin. "The answer may be somewhere between their environment and genes, and we aim to use the advanced single cell genomics to profile their immune cells to help to decode the influencers of ageing."

"To create effective treatments and cures for all people, the biomedical community must work to increase representation in scientific research. About 80 percent of current genomic data is from people of European ancestry, which has to change," said CZI Program Manager for Single-Cell Biology, Norbert Tavares. "The Ancestry Networks for the Human Cell Atlas will bring a much-needed perspective to single-cell research and provide key insights into how ancestry impacts healthy and disease states and has the potential to inform the path to treatments." Although Asia accounts for 60% of the global population, Asian samples are profoundly under-represented in genomic databases. Asian Immune Diversity Atlas (AIDA), the flagship project of HCA-Asia, aims to rectify this imbalance by characterizing the nature and extent of variation in immune cell types from diverse Asian populations. "We will characterize regulatory element activity in the entire cohort by exploiting enhancer RNA and transcription start site information contained within the 5' gene expression data" explains Dr. Hon. "In addition to the healthy baseline, we will analyze the effects of ancestry, age and sex on response to immune stimuli." AIDA with the support of CZI Ancestry Network Grant will expand representation of ancestrally diverse groups within the HCA, enable research participation by 8 teams across Asia and maintain long-term community engagement to ensure that the study benefits participating communities. AIDA will also provide a healthy baseline for characterizing cell state changes in diverse immune-related diseases including infectious and auto-immune diseases and thus form a foundation for precision medicine in Asia.

About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society's toughest challenges -- from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our local communities. Our mission is to build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone.

Related links: Jump to an external site
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative(CZI)


RIKEN is Japan's largest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines. Founded in 1917 as a private research foundation in Tokyo, RIKEN has grown rapidly in size and scope, today encompassing a network of world-class research centers and institutes across Japan.

Related links: Jump to an external site