Ancestry Networks for the Human Cell Atlas

Funding Agency:
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invites applications for three-year collaborative projects for the generation of healthy, single-cell reference data from ancestrally diverse tissue samples for the Human Cell Atlas (HCA).

The Human Cell Atlas (HCA) is a global effort to create a reference map of all cell types in the healthy human body in order to generate a fundamental reference for biomedical research and improve our understanding of health and disease. Progress over the past several years has resulted in advancement toward first drafts of many organs systems and tissues. However, gaps have emerged in reference data for tissues from ancestrally diverse donors across all atlas building efforts, including the HCA. This has introduced significant biases and limited utility for finding treatments for large classes of disease for segments of the population.

This Request for Applications (RFA) is intended to bring together teams of experts to 1) ethically and appropriately generate data derived from tissues from people whose ancestral groups are historically understudied and thereby expand the ancestral diversity of single-cell data that is available via the HCA, and 2) utilize best practices and build up systems to enable long-term engagement of potential participants and donors from diverse communities to contribute to the current and future drafts of the HCA. This work will help provide insights into the contribution of genetic ancestry to disease now and in the future, resulting in an atlas that may be more generalizable and representative of the diversity found in the global human population.

Deadline: May 25, 2021

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Teams should consist of at least three principal investigators (PIs), including at least one computational biologist or data scientist and at least one single-cell biology expert. We strongly encourage that teams include community-engaged/community-based participatory researchers from any relevant discipline as Co-PI(s) to ensure that the research is sensitive to the needs of and connected with the participating donor communities. The engagement researchers are incorporated into this opportunity to help provide, promote, and build culturally competent connections with the research participants and members of their community in such a manner that they are empowered to participate in the Ancestry Networks research and also benefit from potential findings. As such, we strongly encourage the engagement researcher to act in the role of the Coordinating PI.

● Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations, public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local government, and eligible agencies of the federal government. For-profit organizations are not eligible to apply. All grants will be awarded to institutions, not individuals.

● Organizations may be based in any country.

● There may be more than one application submitted by each organization.

● Each application should designate one Principal Investigator (PI) as the Coordinating Principal Investigator (Coordinating PI). The Coordinating PI will act as the administrative contact between CZI and all PIs on the grant (Co-PIs). The Coordinating PI must submit the application on behalf of all PIs. The Coordinating PI must be affiliated with the institution submitting the application, and grant funds will be awarded to that institution, which will take responsibility for distributing funds to any other institutions. Note that institutions outside the U.S. may not subcontract to U.S. institutions, so please be mindful when selecting the Coordinating PI/institution.

● Each application must have a minimum of three PIs (one Coordinating PI and two Co-PIs), but may designate up to 10 total PIs (one Coordinating PI and up to nine Co-PIs). If your application proposes more than 10 PIs, please contact to explain and discuss how to submit the application.

● Principal Investigators may only serve as Coordinating Principal Investigator on one application.

● Principal Investigators may apply to join multiple Ancestry Networks applications, but will only be funded in a single final team. Should teams with overlapping PIs be selected as finalists, the teams will be asked to revise the members of their team such that each PI is only funded as a Coordinating PI or Co-PI on a single project. Collaboration and participation in multiple projects is allowed, but funding will be restricted to one project per PI.

Amount Description

Budget limits: Because varying projects require different resourcing levels, a budget limit has not been set on a per project basis. Proposed budgets should reflect the project scope. Indirect costs cannot exceed 15% of direct costs.

Funding Type



Junior Faculty
Women and minorities encouraged


Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science

External Deadline

May 25, 2021