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Ancestry Networks for the Human Cell Atlas Projects

Grants to USA, Canada, and International Nonprofits, Agencies,
and Institutions to Develop Human Cell Data on Understudied Groups

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI)

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Grants to USA, Canada, and International nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and institutions, including laboratories, IHEs, and hospitals, for collaborative projects to develop human cell data on understudied ethnic groups. The purpose of this initiative is to support three-year collaborative projects for the generation of healthy, single-cell reference data from ancestrally diverse tissue samples for the Human Cell Atlas (HCA).

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.

This funding opportunity supports the continued growth of the HCA, with the aim of filling potential gaps in the first draft of the healthy reference atlas around ancestral groups that have been historically understudied in the biomedical sciences. While there are no specific quotas for this RFA, it is expected that all of the tissue will be from understudied populations. This RFA seeks to attract a new set of grantees primed to answer questions related to commonalities and potential differences in ancestry at the cellular level, as well as grantees with experience in community engagement and building diverse cohorts, and/or access to ancestrally diverse donors and tissue.

This Ancestry Network should collectively generate new tools, open source analysis methods, and openly available data from ancestrally diverse donors across multiple tissue types that provide valuable contributions to the HCA community. Applications should focus on healthy human tissues that will contribute to the reference atlas. Community resources arising from the teams funded by this RFA must be accessible for rapid and open sharing via repositories such as, Addgene, GitHub, bioRxiv, or other open repositories. Samples must be collected in an ethical, equitable, and respectful manner in keeping with the customs, norms, and expectations of the donor communities. Raw sequencing data should be submitted to an archive that ensures maximum accessibility while being respectful of privacy, ethical, and cultural considerations of donors, particularly of marginalized populations.

The overarching scientific goals of this RFA are:

  • Generate and share data that will contribute to healthy references for organs and tissues and will clarify potential differences across ancestry at the cellular level and with the potential for utility to understand differences in disease across ancestries;
  • Increase diverse ancestral representation in datasets to generate references that will promote understanding of disease in populations and communities with increased incidence and disparities;
  • Build international collaborations that promote coordinated and cohesive progress and contribute to the Human Cell Atlas;
  • Identify and address shared methodological, computational, or infrastructural challenges to data generation, analysis, and incorporation into a global reference atlas;
  • Collect and share biospecimens, in particular promoting solutions for challenges associated with ensuring ancestral diversity, engagement with understudied communities, and tissue storage for subsequent single-cell analysis; and
  • Promote collaboration with other funded tissue networks and projects that are actively involved in the HCA as well as other CZI efforts, such as Rare As One, Inflammation, the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network , Essential Open Source Software, and others.

Specific project examples may include, but are not limited to:

  • Focused data generation on single organs, tissues, or multiple organs from single donors from multiple or a single ancestral group/s;
  • Opportunities to develop and share tissue resources that will support standards, protocols, and tissue access to researchers;
  • Extending and improving ancestry ontologies standards;
  • Developing experimental methods to efficiently capture genetic ancestry at the single-cell level;
  • Benchmarking studies, systematic power analysis, or developing statistical methods and standards for confidently measuring and interpreting ancestral differences at the cellular level; and 
  • Scaling, dissemination, or expansion of community engagement or donor recruitment programs/models.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 195184

Estimated Size of Grant:

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.

Term of Contract:

Proposed projects should be three years in duration with a projected start date no earlier than December 1, 2021. Actual start date may vary.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

- 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.

For additional eligibility details, see:

Early-career investigators are strongly encouraged to apply, as Coordinating PIs as well as Co-PIs.

Women and individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Researchers from the Global South and low-to-middle income countries are strongly encouraged to apply and to be included as members of international collaborative networks.

Pre-Application Information:

Key Dates:

- March 9, 2021: Application portal opens
- May 25, 2021: Applications due by 5 p.m. Pacific Time
- September 14 - 24, 2021: Video call interviews of finalists
- October 2021: Earliest notification of decisions (subject to change)
- December 1, 2021: Earliest start date of award period (subject to change)

Read the Medium post to learn more:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

For administrative and programmatic inquiries, or other questions pertaining to this RFA, please contact

For technical assistance with SMApply, please contact or while logged into SMApply, click on the information ”i” link in the upper right corner and submit a help request ticket.

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)

Canada: Alberta;   British Columbia;   Manitoba;   New Brunswick;   Newfoundland and Labrador;   Northwest Territories;   Nova Scotia;   Nunavut;   Ontario;   Prince Edward Island;   Quebec;   Saskatchewan;   Yukon;


International country outside of the USA, Israel and Canada.

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