HuDeCA brings together research teams from distinct national institutes and platforms. It aims to structure human embryology research in France and to contribute to international efforts made to build a reference atlas of human cell types

Presentation of the consortium

The HuDeCA research program is coordinated by Alain Chédotal (U968, Institut de la Vision, Paris) and involves seventeen senior scientists  as well as nine additional permanent organizational contributors. It brings together research teams from the following national institutes and research platforms :

Research objectives

New methods have been developed to study aspects of human development without crossing ethical boundaries determined by our societal values. Culturing embryonic stem cells (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) has allowed us to investigate some of the early steps in embryogenesis and to study certain processes that control human cellular differentiation in vitro. Single-cell transcriptomics now provides access to the genetic identity card of each individual cell type at a given moment, enabling its lineage to be traced over time in vivo. Finally, new three-dimensional imaging methods make it possible to map cells within developing tissues and organs.

HuDeCA’s main research objective is to establish the distinguishing molecular characteristics of single cells within specific embryonic and fetal organs at chosen stages, in order to define and map cell types.  In order to meet that goal and to structure human embryology research in France, the consortium has established a dedicated, scalable human embryonic/fetal biobank to track and distribute samples among researchers within the consortium and, ultimately, to other research teams. These samples can be used for different types of analyses, such as genomic and transcriptomics studies or studies based on bioimaging methods.

Over the long term, results from this program will serve as a basis for understanding the origins of congenital diseases and mal-formations, which affect over 28,000 children and fetuses per year in France, i.e. 3% of births, and which also cause many chronic or late-onset diseases in adults.

Contributions to other research programs

The HuDeCA website intends to be a gateway to other services allowing users to visualize and explore transcriptomic and image datasets.
HuDeCA will communicate its results, challenges and achievements using European public research web infrastructures, such as the European Genome-Phenome archive (EGA), a controlled-access service dedicated for permanent archiving and sharing of sequencing data resulting from biomedical research projects. Members of the project also intend to contribute to international efforts made to map both normal and pathological cells of the human body. As such, they may contribute for instance to the HuGoDeCA project, which focuses more specifically on the study of gonadal cell types and  investigates how the initially bipotential organ differentiates in a sex specific manner. They also intend to contribute to the establishment of the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) , a program dedicated to the creation of comprehensive reference maps of all human cells at every human life stages.