Pre-Cancer Atlas (PCA)

The Pre-cancer Atlas (PCA) Research Centers are one of the three scientific components of the Human Tumor Atlas Network (HTAN). HTAN is a collaborative research initiative for constructing 3-dimensional (3-D) and dynamic atlases of the cellular, morphological, molecular, and spatial features of human cancers and their surrounding microenvironments as they progress from precancerous lesions to advanced disease.

Each PCA Research Center will construct one 3-D precancer atlas that comprehensively characterizes a pre-malignant lesion with an explicit focus on understanding the transition from a precancerous lesion to malignancy. PCA Research Centers have three major areas of responsibility: (1) biospecimen acquisition, processing, and annotation, (2) molecular, cellular, and spatial characterization, and (3) data processing, analysis, modeling, and visualization. PCA Research Centers will collaborate with other components of HTAN to make the data and analytical tools available to the research community.

The overall goal of the PCA Research Centers is to build atlases that:

  • Delineate biological, molecular, immunological, and pathological features of precancerous (precancer) lesions and their microenvironment. In case of familial and hereditary at-risk individuals, atlases should provide somatic and germline landscapes for precancer lesions and their evolution to cancer.
  • Lead to identification of neoantigens, neoepitopes, and actionable targets for interception in the context of cancer prevention.
  • Develop hypotheses that correlate the atlases’ features with biology such as precancer growth and aggressiveness and identify molecular drivers suitable for early intervention.
  • Develop hypotheses that correlate the atlases’ features with clinical endpoints to identify high-risk patients to inform clinical decision, identify low-risk patients to reduce un-necessary treatments, and develop better tools for improved screening for all individuals.

A pre-application webinar was held on November 9, 2023. A recording of the presentation and copies of the slide content are available.