Just as cataloging the human genome provides a jumping-off point to develop genetic testing and molecular-based therapies, a similar effort is necessary on the cellular level. A detailed understanding of how human cells develop into specialized tissues will open the door to regenerative medicine, the therapeutic replacement of cells, tissues, and organs lost to disease. But a significant barrier to fulfilling the promise of regenerative medicine is the absence of a fully characterized, human cell catalog.

Following on its collaboration with the Human Genome Project (HGP), the international biological community should focus on the human cell as its next strategic goal. A so-called Human Cell Project (HCP) could collect fully characterized human cell lines. This new resource--which would be unique with respect to the number and types of cells included, the degree to which these cells would be characterized, and the level of standardization at every data-collection step--would be available,...

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