The human body is comprised of an estimated 100 trillion cells, each differentiated from a single cell. But, the number of distinct cell types, the molecular basis of their function, and the aggregate functional role in a tissue or an organ are unknown. Mapping the cellular phenotype, like mapping the human genome, is the next frontier in understanding the cellular basis of organism function. A cellular foundation of organism function requires intimate quantitative knowledge of molecular components of single cells and the assembly of the constituent parts in the context of how they interact with one another. Such studies entail developing methods for single cell analysis including, 1) quantitative phenotypic characterization, 2) high throughput individual cell culturing and manipulation, and 3) quantitative model analysis of phenotype. Data generated from the activities of this program will provide insight into functional system development and maintenance while providing means for directed manipulation of cellular systems. At the heart of solving many grand challenges in biomedicine is the true integration of a systems level and synthetically driven manipulation of living cells, which will also be therapeutically relevant.
The mission of this program is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in single cell analyses, while providing access to resources and technologies. In addition, the program seeks to develop new technologies that will have application in the understanding of single cell function.