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A*STAR Wins $2M Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Grant to Advance Asian Immune Cell Atlas

NEW YORK — The Agency for Science, Technology, and Research's Genome Institute of Singapore said on Friday that it has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to support its ongoing efforts to build a map of immune cells across Asian populations.

The Asian Immune Diversity Atlas, or AIDA, aims to perform single-cell transcriptomic analysis and T-cell/B-cell receptor profiling on peripheral blood mononuclear cells from over 2,000 healthy people from 20 distinct populations in eight Asian countries: Singapore, Japan, South Korea, India, Thailand, Russia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Project members 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, according to A*STAR.

The atlas will also provide a baseline measurement of the immune system in healthy individuals, which will help identify abnormalities that occur in diverse immune-related diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancers, A*STAR said.

The program builds on a pilot project launched in 2020 with CZI funding.

"AIDA is the first large-scale effort to characterize immune cell diversity in Asian populations," Shyam Prabhakar, associate director of spatial and single-cell systems at GIS, said in a statement. "It will lay a foundation for precision medicine in Asia by facilitating therapies tailored to the specifics of the patient. The curated data will be deposited in public repositories for the benefit of the scientific and clinical communities."

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