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Panoramic Atlases of Life Published in Cell Mark Establishment of SpatioTemporal Omics Consortium


STOC launches with more than 80 scientists joining globally, focused on obtaining the greatest scientific benefits from spatially resolved transcriptomics technology; first studies use BGI-Research’s Stereo-seq to produce spatiotemporal cellular maps of mice, Drosophila, zebrafish, and Arabidopsis

Scientists from 16 countries today announced the establishment of the SpatioTemporal Omics Consortium (STOC), an open scientific community focused on using spatially resolved cellular resolution omics technology to map and understand life. Their first studies resulted in state-of-the-art panoramic spatial atlases of life, published in Cell and Developmental Cell on May 4.

Over 80 scientists from Harvard University, Oxford University, MIT, University of Cambridge, the Karolinska Institutet, the University of Western Australia, the Genome Institute of Singapore, BGI-Research, among others, are collaborating as part of STOC. Members of the research group who produced the panoramic atlases used a new enabling technology Stereo-seq, developed by BGI-Research, to produce the most insightful spatiotemporal cellular maps to date of mice, small fruit flies (Drosophila), zebrafish, and the Arabidopsis plant, making a breakthrough in resolution and panoramic field of view and enabling analysis of the distribution and placement of molecules and cells in situ, and over time.

Identifying the characteristics of specific cells within a tissue has significant applications for understanding physiology, how organisms develop, and which cells are causes or indicators of disease, potentially leading to future gains in human disease research. These lay an important foundation for STOC’s research initiatives, which aim to create diverse sets of spatiotemporal atlases to broaden our knowledge of disease treatment, organ structures, development and aging, and to improve our understanding of biological evolution.

“In the last few years, there has been a lot of progress of mapping the genome and transcriptome in single cells. But this has been without the context of the spatial aspect of neighbourhoods of cells, ecosystem of cells, and therefore there is a whole layer of information that has been missing, which I think will now become accessible. That will have a major impact on both basic and translational research,” says Berthold Göttgens, Director of the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge, and a Member of STOC.

The transformational aspects of spatiotemporal omics for scientific research are captured in the goals of the STOC, as Weibin Liu, STOC Organizing Committee Member, explains.

“The panoramic atlases published late yesterday are the first steps toward the Consortium’s vision of revolutionizing humanity’s understanding of mind and body, youth and old age, health and illness, the origin and future of the human race, and the rest of the living world, for that matter,” says Liu. “They lay the groundwork for multiple atlases the Consortium could complete together, and they validate approaches for creating other spatiotemporal atlases.”

“Because of the magnitude of such endeavors, they require nothing short of a concerted global effort, across multiple disciplines from science to engineering to mathematics, and across diverse stakeholders from medicine to industry to funders. Together with our 80+ members so far, we will work to chart the way forward, to build new tools and competencies, to share resources and results, to map and solve the unknown,” he adds

The SpatioTemporal Omics Consortium (STOC) is an open, collaborative research initiative established to unite, organize, advance and share global scientific efforts in spatiotemporal omics to solve the mysteries of life. More information about STOC can be found at