U-M Health to co-lead creation of ancestrally diverse single-cell skin tissue atlas

December 20, 2021  //  FOUND IN: News
Image courtesy of Doug Strand

Leaders in dermatology and rheumatology at U-M Health are helping to lead a national effort to build an open-source single-cell atlas for skin to explore ancestral differences in skin cell states across several populations.

The atlas will cover the scalp, sun-exposed and non-exposed skin, three sites that are developmentally, anatomically and physiologically distinct. They will focus on four ancestral groups underrepresented in research: African American, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Asian populations.

Skin diseases often have disproportionate effects within different ancestries, and their manifestations are also commonly body location specific. The network will generate comprehensive skin cell atlas through a single-cell genomic approach on 72 adults and will archive skin samples for future transcriptomics studies.

Five U-M Health researchers will help to lead the network, which has the support of two NIH-funded skin biology and disease resource centers:

“This CZI-funded project will enable us to take a large step forward to better understand ancestral differences in skin biology and disease and help create a unique cell-based atlas of the skin that will become a major resource to the wider research community,” said Gudjonsson.

The project will last three years, leaning heavily on community engagement to better understand under-researched populations.