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New Cell Registry enables exploration of multiple brain cell type datasets

May 10, 2019

undefinedA screenshot of the BICCN Cell Registry, a new data exploration tool for brain cell type data.

The Allen Institute for Brain Science, a division of the Allen Institute, has debuted a new data exploration tool for brain cell type data. The Cell Registry is a new, centralized resource for data generated from projects through the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network, or BICCN, allowing users to search and explore multiple datasets from different laboratory teams around the country.

The BICCN is a National Institutes of Health-funded effort that aims to establish reference cell atlases of the mammalian brain that will integrate diverse data modalities to describe cell types. Several research teams, including at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, are working to catalog cell types in the mouse, human and other primate brains. The Allen Institute for Brain Science also leads the BRAIN Cell Data Center, or BCDC, which provides a community resource for integration, visualization, and analysis of cell type data generated throughout the network.

The Cell Registry, debuted this week, is a publicly accessible web portal for users to explore that data. The brain cell type datasets can be filtered by features such as species, research investigator, grant number or experimental technique. The registry also includes six dataset summaries that allow even deeper dives into the data, for example, enabling search by a specific region of the brain. The summaries encompass transcriptomic and epigenomic mouse brain cell type data. The BCDC team plans to roll out more dataset summaries as the site evolves.

Allowing users to explore data from multiple research projects is part of the consortium’s goal to capture a complete picture of brain cell types, said Lydia Ng, Ph.D., Senior Director of Technology at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and BCDC co-PI who led the development of the Cell Registry.

“We now have this consortium-wide dataset with data from all different modalities and all different grants,” Ng said. “This is the first concrete step toward building a comprehensive cell-type census. It will support integrative data-driven analysis of cell type taxonomy and reveal organizational principles of the brain.”


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