The Shanghai Center for Single-Cell Omics (CSCOmics) for Aging and Disease in Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (SJTU-SM) strives to be a leader in the development of cutting-edge laboratory and computational technologies for analyzing the various levels of genetic information transfer in single cells. Single-cell approaches are critically important in studying the molecular basis of the cell fate decisions that drive aging and the diseases associated with it, such as cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Multi-omics analysis at the single cell level will help to identify and understand differences between cell types and cell subpopulations, which in turn is crucial, for example, in discovering how cancer spreads or how specialized cells can be optimally utilized in regenerative medicine. CSCOmics will open early 2019 and will recruit 10-20 faculty. “The new center will recruit the best and the brightest from across the world to study and understand the age-related changes in genome, epigenome, proteome and metabolome in individual cells as they arise within an organism” says Dr. Jan Vijg, the Director of CSCOmics and also Professor and Chairman of the Department of Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, USA. "We believe that characterizing single cells using new and advanced methodologies will greatly facilitate ongoing research towards novel biomedical discoveries by investigators on SJTU-SM’s campus and elsewhere, eventually allowing new, cutting-edge medical applications to reduce suffering and the increasing burden of diseases among elderly.” Research topics include the development of novel, multi-omics single-cell approaches, 3-D intra-tissue single-cell analysis, and artificial intelligence machine learning analysis of single-cell data. The new center should advance progress in developing powerful new ways to dissect the different layers of cellular information flows, providing new views of cellular identity and function at a single cell level. It will operate in three divisions: Single-Cell Genomics, Single-Cell Proteomics and Metabolomics and Single-Cell Precision Medicine. Since most single-cell technologies are still in flux, CSCOmics relies on a number of advanced core facilities, including a single-cell identification and collection core and a computational single-cell analysis core, providing its investigators with a palette of standardized services. Apart from services, the cores will provide new opportunities to develop, optimize and standardize new approaches in single-cell biology. A key focus of the center will be to translate basic science findings in single cell biology into novel interventions to prevent, delay or reverse aging-related chronic disease.
An important aim of the new center is to fostering interactions among investigators across the globe, promoting collaborations at the national and international level. The center will be bilingual, Chinese and English, and will soon begin its faculty recruitment efforts. To also attract scientists from outside China, which should make up at least half of all scientific personnel, the center will put in place free courses in Mandarin Chinese and Chinese culture and history. “Ideally this should provide a melting pot of scientists with Chinese characteristics” says Dr. Chen Guoqiang, Chancellor of SJTU-SM and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “SJTU-SM will provide the center with ample support, both financially and from a policy point of view with its faculty recruitment, establishment of core facilities, academic research and co-operation s. I very much look forward seeing the center blossom and play a vital role in the biomedical research needed to prevent, delay or treat the disease burden associated with the increasing number of elderly in Chinese society over the coming decades. Our vision is to make the center a truly international focus of single-cell research and the study of aging and disease. Everybody passionate about science as a tool to cure diseases and help should feel welcome here."