About Project Achilles

Project Achilles is a large collaboration between the Broad Institute and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to identify genetic vulnerabilities and link them to biomarkers that predict their response. We are leveraging expertises from both biologists and computational scientists to create high quality gene essentiality datasets and rigorous analytical tools.

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Parallel genome-wide interrogation of essentiality<

We aim to interrogate the essentiality of all human genes across hundreds of cancer cell lines representing the heterogeneity of human cancer. We use lentiviral-based pooled shRNA and CRISPR/Cas9 libraries for genome-wide screening. This allows for the stable suppression of each gene individually in a subset of cells within a pooled format allowing for a cost-effective genome scale interrogation of gene essentiality. Rigorous quality controls, including multiple cell line fingerprinting steps, and monitoring of cell / reagent representation throughout the screening process are performed to ensure the quality of the data. The protocols are highly standardized to ensure that the data can be compared across cell lines.

Current datasets

Project Achilles is an ongoing effort aiming at screening >1000 cell lines of a variety of lineages, including cell lines derived from both solid and hematopoietic tumors of pediatric and adult lineages. The use of multiple cell lines is critical to model the genomic diversity of human cancer and to accommodate imperfect correlation between genotype and phenotype. We currently have data for 102 cell lines (v2.0) or 216 cell lines (v2.4.3) screened with an shRNA library as well as 33 cell lines screened with a CRISPR-Cas9 library (v3.3.7) (http://vcancerportal05.broadinstitute.org/achilles/datasets/all). Additional data is being generated and will be released on an ongoing basis.

Achilles 2.0


Achilles 2.4.3


Achilles 3.3.7


Project team

Project Achilles is a collaboration between the Broad’s Cancer Program, the Hahh lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad’s GPP (Genetic Perturbation Platform).

Lead Scientists
Aviad Tsherniak
Francisca Vazquez
Barbara Weir

Glenn Cowley (currently at J&J)

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