Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We appreciate your interest in the Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) and hope that you and your team will choose to submit an application. In order to maximize your chances of success, we would like to provide some guidance that may be helpful. For additional clarification of these or other issues, we encourage you to send an email to HuBMAP@mail.nih.gov or talk with the scientific contacts listed in the RFA to which you are applying.
The goal of the Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) is to catalyze development of a framework for mapping of the human body with cellular resolution to enhance our understanding of tissue organization and function. This will be achieved by:
Accelerating the development of the next generation of tools and techniques for constructing high-resolution spatial tissue maps that quantify multiple types of biomolecules; • Generating foundational 3D tissue maps using validated high-content, high-throughput imaging and omics assays;
Establishing an open data platform that will develop novel approaches to integrating, visualizing and modelling imaging and omics data to build multi-dimensional maps, and making data rapidly findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable by the global research community;
Coordinating and collaborating with other funding agencies, programs, and the biomedical research community to build the architecture and tools for mapping the human body with cellular resolution;
Supporting projects that demonstrate the value of the resources developed by the program to study individual variation and tissue changes across the lifespan and the health-disease continuum.
For additional information about how HuBMAP is structured, see Program Goals and Initiatives.
HuBMAP will scale-up the scope of tissues, technologies, data management and community engagement that are being addressed during the eight-year duration of the program. The program will have four stages: a setup phase in FY18, a scale-up phase FY19-21, a production phase FY22-24 and a transition phase in FY25. The five research initiatives that compose the program are:
Transformative Technology Development - This set of initiatives, the first of which will be issued FY18, seeks to establish proof of principle and validation of the next generation of tools, techniques and methods that will be foundational for mapping the human body with micron resolution.
Rapid Technology Integration - This set of initiatives, which will start in FY19, will focus on nimble integration of promising imaging and omics technologies into HuBMAP that have the potential to enhance data collection and validation during the program, and expanding throughput, multiplexing or discrimination of different classes of biomolecules.
Tissue Mapping Centers - These Centers, which will be initially funded in FY18, will build, benchmark, standardize, validate and generate extensive data from high-content, high-throughput imaging and omics technologies to produce 3D human tissue maps with high spatial resolution. Centers will be expected to integrate and optimize all parts of the data generation pipeline, from tissue collection and preservation through to data integration, analysis and interpretation.
HIVE - This multi-component collaboratory, which will be funded in FY18, will have responsibility for: 1) managing the data generated by the Consortium, 2) coordinating internal and external Consortium activities, 3) developing novel tools for visualizing, searching and modelling data and 4) building an atlas of tissue maps.
Demonstration Projects - The goal of this initiative, which will start half way through the program, is to demonstrate how HuBMAP resources, in combination with new or other datasets or biospecimens as needed, can be used to build better statistical and analytic tools and models of cellular organization and communication in tissues.
Announcements and regularly updates will be posted on the program website: https://commonfund.nih.gov/hubmap. The program also maintains a mailing list. Further information about the FY18 RFAs will also be available during a webinar scheduled for January 11th. There will also be a webinar specifically to discuss the HIVE Initiative and Other Transaction awards (date TBA). We will post recordings of these webinars after they occur.
For HuBMAP, a 3D tissue map is a high resolution, representation of the quantitative distribution of intrinsic biomolecules found in human tissue. These biomolecules including but not limited to DNA, RNA, proteins and metabolites. A biomolecular atlas is a collection of related biomolecular maps.
Tissue Mapping Centers are responsible for, among other things, generating individual maps in cartesian space. The HIVE is responsible for, among other things, integrating these maps together body-wide using a Common Coordinate Framework, generating maps in non-cartesian space, and providing a framework for generating atlases of functional, structural and biomolecular data that enable studies of inter-individual variability, changes across the lifespan and across the health-disease continuum.
Projects that propose studying non-human, diseased or dysfunctional tissues are not within the scope of the program. Projects that propose studying bodily fluids are not within the scope of the program. Motile human cells in the context of a tissue, such as tissue resident macrophages, are within the scope of the program. Projects may generate information from bodily fluids, or about microbiome interactions, the virome or exogenous compounds to enhance their understanding of tissue organization and function, though they should not be the focus of the project.
There are no preferences or limitations to the tissues that will be analyzed as HuBMAP. Given (1) technology limitations, (2) availability of high quality tissue, and (3) tools, data and analysis available from similar programs, applicants are strongly encouraged to consider: (1) how their choice of tissues provides a unique and synergistic opportunity for HuBMAP, (2) the rationale and synergy between the technologies, tissues and analysis tissues and organs proposed, and (3) the significance of the biological insights that will be gained from the data generated and analyzed. Additional details can be found in each RFA.
HuBMAP supports the development and application of high-content, high-throughput, cost-effective assays that generate high quality quantitative data for characterizing cells and the extracellular structures at high resolution. The focus of the program is on in-situ analysis of the biomolecular composition and morphology of tissue, using unbiased, qualitative assays that can be readily multiplexed with other assays and used for analyzing multiple human tissues. Technologies that only assay a small number of biomolecules, have low sensitivity or specificity, are not generally applicable to all tissues or require significant optimization for each tissue, do not provide a reproducible quantitative readout, are not capable of high throughput analysis, do not preserve information about spatial organization and have high resolution, do not identify specific biomolecules, or are not cost-effective will be considered as low priority. Tools and technologies which require significant pre-processing of the tissue that results in significant biomolecular degradation, or that work with dissociated or fragmented cells and do not accurately recover spatial organization with high resolution will also be considered a low priority.
Although the focus is on technologies that provide quantitative readout of the spatial organization of specific biomolecules, such as proteins, RNA, DNA and metabolites, projects can propose generating data from technologies that will enhance scientific understanding, including from but not limited to MRI, micro-CT, photoacoustic imaging, Raman spectroscopy, histology, and mechanical imaging.
For HuBMAP, a high-resolution assay is one that can reliably and reproducibly assign detected biomolecules to individual cells or extracellular compartments of a tissue. A high content approach is one that maximizes identification of tissues features through a combination of biomolecular depth, spatial resolution and multiplexing of complementary, multi-parameter assays. A high throughput pipeline is one that maximizes the bandwidth of data production to result in any or all of the following: 1) accelerated speed of analysis, so that hundreds or thousands of samples can be analyzed at once, 2) greater depth of analysis, so that hundreds or thousands of molecules can be analyzed in a single sample, or 3) enhanced capacity for volume, so that a given set of molecules can be analyzed in all the cells within a larger tissue sample. Approaches that maximize the volume of tissue that will be analyzed while maintaining cellular resolution and high biomolecular content are strongly encouraged.
|Funding Opportunity||Technology Readiness Level (TRL)||Description|
|Transformative Technology Development – UH2 phase||1||Basic principles observed|
|2||Technology concept formulated|
|3||Experimental proof of concept|
|Transformative Technology Development – UH3 phase||4||Technology validated in lab|
|Rapid Technology Implementation||5||Technology validated in relevant environment|
|6||Technology demonstrated in relevant environment|
|7||System prototype demonstration in operational environment|
|8||System complete and qualified|
Tissue Mapping Centers
|9||Actual system proven in operational environment|
The Transformative Technology Development (TTD) initiative will begin in FY18, while the Rapid Technology Implementation (RTI) initiative will begin in FY19. Applicants are strongly encouraged to only apply for the initiative that best describes their stage of readiness. TTD applications with significant preliminary results that demonstrate proof of concept or validation in mammalian tissue will be considered a low programmatic priority. Likewise, high-risk technologies that have not generated publication-quality data from at least one human tissue will be considered a low-priority for the RTI initiative.
A cooperative agreement funding mechanism supports discrete, specified, circumscribed projects to be performed by investigators in an area representing their specific interest and competencies and is used when substantial NIH programmatic involvement is anticipated. In addition to a Program Officer from the administering Institute, each award will be assigned a Project Scientist(s) from NIH who will participate with the Principal Investigators on a Steering Committee. NIH staff will not direct the research but will assist in aligning progress with the goals of the program and promote interaction with other members of the Consortium. There are several key expectations described in each RFA such as:
Attendance at Consortium meetings, workshops, and conference calls
All investigators are under a confidential disclosure agreement regarding all private information within the Consortium
Participate in cross-validation of your own and others’ tools/technologies
Other Transactions (OTs) are funding mechanisms, which are not grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts, under section 402(b)(7) or 402(b)(12) of the Public Health Service Act. OTs are used by components within the NIH, including the Common Fund, which have been authorized by Congress to use them. They allow the NIH to:
Seek participation by non-traditional research partners
Foster innovation and nimbleness to quickly develop and engage in programmatic activities
Alter the course of the project in real-time to meet the overarching goal
Conduct objective review
Expand, modify, partner, not support, or discontinue awarded activities based on performance and programmatic need.
For additional information, please see the HuBMAP Other Transactions Policy Guide.
HuBMAP Consortium Questions
NIH intends that the products of the HuBMAP be broadly available to the research community to establish the foundations for a human body map that other programs and the international community to build upon; this includes methods, tools, reagents, biospecimens, datasets, and software. All funded investigators must facilitate the public release and dissemination of results, data, reagents, technologies, and other products generated through their HuBMAP awards in a timely manner and abide by Consortium and NIH policies.
Awardees will be expected to develop policies for public access; data sharing; protocol, tool, and reagent sharing; intellectual property; and software sharing to work collectively with the NIH to harmonize and implement these policies across the Consortium.
No, a milestone is a defined event, achievement, or important stage that is used to indicate the progress of a project. Milestones are expected to be:
Major steps or events (e.g., activities or outcomes) with a clearly defined purpose.
Specific targets that depict progress toward project goals.
Descriptive of what will be done and when it will be completed.
Collectively organized in a logical order (e.g. sequentially, simultaneously, or iteratively).
Associated with a timeframe (e.g., end of the fiscal year).
Common Fund initiative milestones are not specifics aims or broadly aspirational statements of what a project is expected to achieve.
This page last reviewed on January 5, 2018