This Funding Opportunity Announcement intends to support the creation of an Analysis, Technology, Leadership, Administration and Science (ATLAS) Center that has the overarching goal of building the “go-to” open-access resource for the research community of mouse and human renal and genitourinary development and disease. The ATLAS Center will have scientific and administrative responsibilities including: 1) integrating and visualizing disparate datatypes and organs of the renal and genitourinary tract; 2) developing, adopting, or improving state-of-the-art computational tools and approaches to carry out analyses of multi-modal molecular and imaging data; 3) building interactive 2D/3D atlases and molecular maps with FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) to promote data retrieval, exploration, discovery, and analysis by the community; 4) developing, designing, maintaining, and enhancing an open-access, interactive public data and analysis portal; and 5) coordinating internal and external activities of the GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP) and (Re)Building a Kidney (RBK) consortia, including administration of an opportunity pool to address scientific gaps and opportunities.
Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the development of state-of-the-art molecular technologies such as single-cell transcriptomics, single-cell epigenomics, and spatial transcriptomic methods, as well as advances in 2D/3D imaging techniques including CODEX and MALDI-MSI that have transformed biomedical research. In parallel, rapid advances in data science technologies and the development of new approaches for data storage, data integration, and analysis of large, heterogeneous datasets, along with innovations in computational methods in advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence, have created new opportunities to answer fundamental biological questions and accelerate discovery. Indeed, the confluence of these technologies promises to enable unprecedented insight into developmental processes and disease mechanisms, through understanding tissue organization and complex cell-cell interactions, uncovering new distinct cell-types, and deciphering complex gene regulatory networks.
The NIDDK supports several research consortia and basic research projects that are employing state-of-the-art technologies and generating large, diverse, and complex datasets, consisting of genomics/omics, clinical, and imaging data to study mouse and human renal and genitourinary development and disease. For example, GUDMAP Atlas projects employ single-cell RNA-seq, single-cell ATAC-seq, spatial transcriptomics as well as advanced imaging technologies such as CODEX and nano-computed tomography. The breadth and quantity of data generated presents researchers with significant computational challenges in processing, accessing, and analyzing data, and has emerged as one of the major obstacles and bottlenecks to fully address fundamental questions in renal and genitourinary biology. In addition, there are limitations in the availability of bioinformatic and computational tools that can be utilized by basic, translational, and clinical researchers with minimal computational experience that limit the exploration of data and fully unlock the potential in these datasets. Consequently, there is a critical need for the development and improvement of advanced computational, statistical, and bioinformatic approaches and tools to handle these multi-omic and imaging datasets through novel approaches in data management and storage, integration, and analysis. More importantly, there is a fundamental necessity to continually improve, adapt, and develop computational platforms that provide access to user-friendly bioinformatic and analytical tools to democratize data analysis and data usage.
In response to these data challenges, and to more effectively utilize the molecular data generated by various NIDDK consortia and research programs in renal and genitourinary systems, this FOA seeks to establish a new Analysis, Technology, Leadership, Administration and Science (ATLAS) Center. The vision for this funding opportunity is to create the “go-to” knowledgebase and public resource for the research community that focuses on renal and genitourinary development and disease in humans and mice to expand on NIDDK’s commitment to promote bioinformatic solutions that harness the power of data science and accelerate biomedical discoveries.
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