< No: 7 >

Start of the Human Protein Atlas program

The HPA program started in summer 2003, upon receipt of funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW). The original funding has since been renewed multiple times by KAW. In the proposal (2002), the founders of the program asked the question: “What is it that makes a kidney a kidney? And what makes a heart a heart? All cells, regardless of whether they are in a kidney or the heart, contain exactly the same genetic material and genes. However, different genes are active in the various cells. This leads the cells to have entirely different functions. Some become nerves, others begin to produce insulin. If researchers are to understand how our bodies work, it is these differences they need to investigate, since the proteins account for all activities in the body. They build muscles and tendons, catalyze chemical reactions, send signals all over and much more.”

Figure legend: Figure from the original project proposal to KAW in 2002.

Key facts

  • The HPA program has been funded for 20 years by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
  • More than 500 researchers have been involved in the program throughout its history
  • The project has resulted in important collaborations with researchers in Europe, the United States, India, China, and South Korea
  • The project has generated 55,000 recombinant proteins, 21,000 validated antibodies, more than 10 million annotated images, and more than 500 “in-house” publications