Immune Cell Atlas of Asian Populations
Asia accounts for 60 percent of the global population, yet is profoundly underrepresented in genomic databases. The Asian Immune Diversity Atlas (AIDA) is a flagship project of the Human Cell Atlas-Asia and aims to rectify this imbalance by characterizing the nature and extent of variation in immune cell types from ancestrally diverse Asian populations. Building on a previously funded pilot project, the team will use gene expression data to study in-depth the effects of ancestry, genetic variants, geographical location, environmental exposures, age, and sex on Asian immune phenotypes.
To achieve these goals, the team will perform single cell transcriptomic analysis (5’ scRNA-seq) and TCR/BCR profiling on peripheral blood mononuclear cells from a representative cohort of over 2,000 healthy individuals spanning 20 ancestrally diverse population groups from eight Asian countries, including non-urban and underrepresented populations. This group 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. With a healthy baseline, the team will analyze the effects of ancestry, age, and sex on response to immune stimuli.
AIDA will expand representation of ancestrally diverse groups within the Human Cell Atlas, enable research participation by teams across Asia, and maintain long-term community engagement to ensure community benefit. 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.