Tissue Mapping Center

3D Multiscale Reference Atlas for Human Skin


The scientific focus of the proposed 3D Multiscale Reference Atlas for Human Skin is to develop the first comprehensive, 3D set of integrated cellular and molecular maps of human skin across age, sex, race and skin location. Skin is the largest human organ, serving as a critical barrier between the external environment and internal tissues. Yet, no comprehensive map exists for the 3D architecture of this organ at a cellular level, nor is there a comprehensive map of the molecular signatures defining this architecture across the body and across lifespan. Thus, we plan to integrate our recently developed machine learning-guided image analysis system CODA with single-cell and spatial multi-omic analyses to produce high-content reference maps. The integrated skin atlas will allow researchers to interrogate the skin in its entire 3D architecture and/or focus on individual structures, such as vasculature, hair follicles, or individual cells. We will overlay genotypic and phenotypic states to enable, for example, examination of the overlap between senescent cells and stem cells, or the correlation between extracellular matrix (ECM) content and the diversity of dermal fibroblasts. Because we will include diverse and often underrepresented populations, our multiscale atlas will also provide a broader view of skin biology, filling in critical missing information. Finally, by looking across lifespan, the atlas will provide a view of architectural, cellular, and molecular alterations in skin with age, establishing the natural history of normal biology for this critical organ. In addition to its intrinsic value for understanding skin itself, we anticipate that our skin atlas will be a powerful hypothesis-generating tool for biologists studying the many questions for which skin is an ideal model system – homeostatic renewal, repair, senescence, aging, and pathogen response.

Public health relevance statement

We propose to create a center at Johns Hopkins University that will produce the first large-volume, integrated 3D map of the human skin as a function of age, race, and sex.

Fast Facts
Project title: 3D Multiscale Reference Atlas for Human Skin
Organ specialty: Skin
PI: Denis Wirtz
Co-Investigator: Sashank Reddy
Project Manager: Carla Dodd
Grant number: 1U54AR081774-01