ESPACE Annual Meeting 2021

LINQ's project ESPACE held its Annual Meeting on October 11-12, 2021. Representatives of all project partners participated in the two-day event to take stock of ESPACE’s progress to date and make plans for the remaining nine months of the project. 

The ESPACE consortium got together virtually on October 11-12, 2021, for the project’s second Annual Meeting. Representatives of all project partners participated in the two-day event to take stock of ESPACE’s progress to date and make plans for the remaining nine months of the project.

LINQ manages ESPACE and supports the project with a wide range of communication activities. The rationale of the 30-month project is to build a first version of the Human Cell Atlas of the Pancreas.

Day 1: A review of the year gone by 

The first day of the meeting began with Roland Eils, Project Coordinator, of Charité, Berlin, Germany, welcoming everyone and providing a rundown of some key achievements by the consortium during the last year. This introduction was followed by presentations by each Work Package Lead.

First out was the team behind Work Package 5 (Data Management – DCP Pancreas,) led by Charité. Sven Twardziok provided an overview of the ESPACE Cloud. The cloud will be the central hub for storing, sharing, and analysing data in ESPACE. Trainings and workshops will be offered shortly to streamline usage.

The walkthrough of the ESPACE cloud was followed by an update on the spatial analysis by the Work Package 4 (Spatial analysis of cells and cell identity genes) team, led by KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. The team is currently examining different visualization tools and preparing the multiplexed imaging, aiming to soon begin the spatial analysis.

One highlight and central topic of discussion was the presentation of ESPACE’s first sequencing results by the Work Package 2 (Single cell molecular profiling of the healthy human pancreas) team, led by Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain. The team has managed to develop near-complete datasets for healthy adults and now work to complete the dataset for the foetal cohort later this year. Thereafter, they will start the integrated analysis.

During day one of the Annual Meeting, the Work Package 1 (Tissue groups and sample procurement) team, led by Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands, also presented their work with procuring samples for the healthy l cohorts – the sample collection is now complete. Samples from type 2 diabetes patients have been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, but the team is working on finding a solution to secure these samples during the project runtime.

Day 2: Next Steps

The second day of the annual meeting was dedicated to planning the final nine months of the project, as ESPACE is coming to an end on 30 June 2022. The consortium has laid the groundwork to move forward with the integrated analysis of datasets from all cohorts.

Beyond the more technical aspects of the data analysis, the ESPACE consortium aims to increase collaboration on joint communication activities with the other cluster projects that are contributing to the HCA-2020 Cluster next year. In 2022, the consortium will have a strong focus on dissemination and exploitation of results. Members of Work Package 2, 3 and 4 will host a joint hackathon focused on analysis of data early next year. By sharing both findings and know-how the team aims to pave the way for further research on the pancreas.   

To support the dissemination of the ESPACE consortium’s work, LINQ will coordinate the production of a joint newsletter in 2022 by the HCA-H2020 Cluster, consisting of ESPACE and five other Horizon2020-funded health research projects.