The Human Protein Atlas: A 20-year journey into the body

The Human Protein Atlas (HPA) journey started in 2000, the same year as the announcement of the completion of the Human Genome Project. In 2003, the program received generous support from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW), and the program was changed to an exclusively academic endeavor. The aim of the program has been to map all of the human proteins in cells, tissues, and organs, using integration of various 'omics technologies, including antibody-based imaging, mass spectrometry–based proteomics, transcriptomics, and systems biology.

In an expansive supplement published by Science, a journey is taken through the 20 years since the establishment of the Human Protein Atlas (HPA) consortium, to underscore milestones reached and to celebrate releases of updates and additions to the atlas. For the reader’s convenience, reprints of the relevant journal articles associated with the most important of these milestones are provided. You can download the pdf version here.

Together with Science, the microsite has been produced to show some of HPA's hightlighs.

Below, the 35 most significant milestones in the history of the HPA consortium are outlined. Click on any milestone and read about key facts and publications related to each milestone.

Scientific Milestones
Year No Title Year No Title
1985 1 Affinity tags for protein purification 2012 19 Targeted proteomics
1989 2 Solid phase sequencing 2014 20 Integration of RNA and protein profiles
1993 3 Pyrosequencing 2015 21 The Tissue Atlas
1996 4 First concept of antibody-based proteomics 2016 22 Correlation of RNA and protein levels
2000 5 The Human Genome Project 2016 23 Human secretome resource
2000 6 Chromosome 21 pilot 2016 24 Antibody validation
2003 7 Start of the Human Protein Atlas program 2017 25 The Subcellular Atlas
2004 8 Tissue microarrays 2017 26 The Pathology Atlas
2004 9 The HPA data management system 2017 27 Systems medicine
2005 10 Launch of the Human Protein Atlas portal 2018 28 Wellness profiling and precision medicine
2006 11 Creation of an antibody resource 2018 29 Deep learning and citizen science
2007 12 Protein arrays 2019 30 Human secretome annotation
2008 13 Biomarkers for body fluids 2019 31 The Blood Atlas
2008 14 Epitope mapping of antibodies 2019 32 The HPA Kaggle Challenge
2008 15 Antibodypedia antibody portal 2020 33 The Brain Atlas
2009 16 Biomarker discovery in pathology 2020 34 The Metabolic Atlas
2010 17 Knowledge-based portal 2020 35 The fight against the novel coronavirus
2011 18 Therapeutic antibodies and Affibodies