How the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network creates connections to accelerate disease research

When the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network (NDCN) — one of CZI’s flagship science programs — launched a little more than two years ago, we began a deliberate experiment in science community building. We envisioned an interdisciplinary collaborative network that would bring new ideas and new people into the field of neurodegeneration, with the common goal of developing innovative strategies for the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. It would try to shift the field from looking at neurodegenerative diseases separately to examining them collectively. …


What do business executives, stay-at-home moms, a PhD scientist, community organizer, computer scientist, and former professional basketball player all have in common?

These individuals are some of the inspiring leaders of patient-driven organizations fighting tirelessly for cures, treatments, and therapies to one of 7,000 known rare diseases.

As part of the Rare As One Project, we’re supporting 30 patient-led rare disease organizations that are working to develop and strengthen a collaborative research network in their disease area, convene their research community, and align around shared research priorities. …


Celebrating Learnings from the Rare As One Project and Launching a Second Funding Opportunity

Each February, the rare disease community comes together and celebrates Rare Disease Month to raise awareness about rare diseases, their impact on patients’ lives, and the urgent need to find treatments and cures. Rare Disease Month culminates in Rare Disease Day on the last day of February — the rarest day of the year.

This year, we’re reflecting on the progress our grantees in the Rare As One Network have made to accelerate research — despite facing significant challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic — and our learnings along the way. …


Transforming bioinformatics into a guiding force in research

For a scientist destined to earn renown for her skill in creating biostatistical tools and extracting meaning from large datasets, Katherine Pollard’s initial impulses toward the study of math were somewhat conflicted: “I wasn’t sure I saw myself as a math major, until a professor convinced me to think about it,” she says of her first collegiate year.

By graduation, she had arrived at a happy medium between numbers and her interest in human physiology and evolution: a double major in mathematics and anthropology. …


Mapping cells of the reproductive tract across the lifespan will help fill critical gaps in our knowledge about health

The formation of the reproductive system starts in the embryo, when cells that will eventually form the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus divide and differentiate, ultimately developing into a system capable of perpetuating life. That system changes monthly and also over a lifetime, undergoing major transitions at puberty and menopause.

Researchers supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Seed Networks for the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) program are mapping that journey, cell by cell, across the female reproductive system — from the earliest stages of human development to old age. …


Scientific imaging is vital to understanding health and disease. Imaging technology allows researchers to study the building blocks of life — tissues, cells and proteins — and unlock new knowledge about how to prevent disease. To make big breakthroughs in biomedical science, we need to keep advancing tools that scientists use to see life across these scales.

CZI’s Imaging program supports biologists and technology experts, improved imaging tools and expanded access to these tools, and increased training and community building. We’re pushing the frontiers of imaging by supporting 13 new cutting-edge imaging technologies that will allow researchers to view the…


New RFA Supports Researchers to Contribute Pediatric Data to the Human Cell Atlas

We are all familiar with changes early in life — those that are easily seen and others that are more difficult to detect or pinpoint. Growth charts show our bones getting longer, our immune system is trained via vaccination or exposure to diseases like chickenpox, many of us have allergies that then mysteriously subside as we grow, and puberty induces changes in our hormones and with it, changes in many organ systems. The processes are clear, as well as many diseases associated with them, but the cell types and how these cell types arise and change throughout these processes are…


What We Learned by Listening to Researchers, Imaging Scientists, and Bioimage Analysts

CZI’s imaging team wants to help all researchers measure, visualize, and quantify the biological processes underlying health and disease. To reach this goal, we work closely with the scientific community to understand what holds them back and collaborate to improve current systems. CZI supports imaging scientists that increase collaboration between biologists and technology experts, software fellows that maintain critical software tools, biologists who use imaging, and disruptive imaging technologies that will improve our mechanistic understanding of health and disease.

We heard from the scientific community about challenges using bioimaging software — tools that help researchers draw insights from the images…


20 New Grants Advancing Open Science

The maintenance of scientific open source software is unlike scientific papers or other traditional forms of research outputs. Scientific papers don’t incur additional costs or labor to the authors the more they are used or cited. In contrast, the most mature scientific tools and software libraries become increasingly more challenging to maintain the larger their user base.

“Code, while it’s being traded, appraised, or exchanged, assumes its static form, with all the properties that we’d expect of a commodity. But once it finds users, code springs to life, switching to an active state and incurring hidden costs.” …


Key Tools and Research Outputs from the Computable Knowledge Project

In 2017, the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Information Extraction and Synthesis Laboratory (IESL) was awarded the Computable Knowledge grant. In partnership with CZI’s Meta team, this work advanced state-of-the-art technology to extract knowledge from scientific publications to explore new ways to construct and reason over scientific knowledge bases.

Biomedical research papers are published at a staggering rate. Every day, more than 4,000 new papers are posted to services such as PubMed and bioRxiv. Amidst the current coronavirus pandemic, the world is more aware than ever of the need to accelerate scientific progress. …

Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative

Supporting the science and technology that will make it possible to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of the century.

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