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Baylor College of Medicine

Close up photo of a women's eye.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative supports research in childhood diseases

Homa Shalchi


Houston, TX -

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have been awarded a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) Pediatric Networks for the Human Cell Atlas grant to create an atlas of genes and proteins of the human eye across pediatric development. Recipients of the grant include Dr. Timothy Stout, chair, Sid W. Richardson Professor and Margarett Root Brown Chair and director of the Cullen Eye Institute at Baylor, and Dr. Rui Chen, professor of molecular and human genetics, faculty member in the Program in Developmental Biology and member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor.

The $2.5 million grant will support their work to understand the processes of eye development. They plan to sequence DNA, review RNA transcripts and study proteins from historically excluded communities. By using samples from these donors, the team will study different stages of development of the eye:

  • 0 to 6 months of age
  • 6 months to 8 years of age
  • 8 to 18 years of age 

“We’re looking at 10 different kinds of cells in the eye, and we want to figure out how they develop and which genes are expressed at different points of development. Once we know how the normal eye develops, then we will have an idea of how it can go wrong. We need a roadmap first,” Stout said. 

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced $33 million in grants to support collaborative groups of researchers and pediatricians to better understand, prevent and treat childhood diseases. 

These 17 groups of researchers represent 15 different countries and will contribute healthy pediatric single-cell reference data to the global Human Cell Atlas as a foundational resource for providing insight into the cellular origins of disease onset in children.

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