Nantes meeting: registration deadline extended to May 15

Transgenesis Meeting in Nantes, June 8, 2009
Transgenesis Meeting in Nantes, June 8, 2009

The meeting entitled “Transgenesis: recent tecnical developments and applications“, to be held in Nantes (France) on June 8, 2009, organized by Transgenic Rats Common Facility of IFR26 and Ouest-Genopole, has extended the registration deadline till May 15, 2009. You can obtain a registration form from this page.

Topics covered by this meeting, co-sponsored by ISTT, include:

Transgenic animal models in biomedical research – LM. Houdebine, INRA, Jouy-en-Josas (France)
The impact of sequencing the mouse genome in biomedical research – JL Guénet, Pasteur Institut (Paris)
shRNA mediated gene knock down adavantages/disadvantages in relation to Knock-Out – K. Thiam, GenOway, Lyon (France)
Zinc finger nuclease as tools for the generation of mutant animals – T. Cathomen, Institute of Virology, Berlin (Germany)
Knockout rats produced via embryo microinjection of designed zinc finger nucleases – R Buelow, Palo Alto (USA)
Transgenesis in non mammalian vertebrates – D Boujard, Rennes (France)
Gene inactivation by mutagenesis using N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) – E. Cuppen, Utrech (Netherlands)
Cloning by nuclear transfer – C. Galli, Istituto Sperimentale Italiano Lazzaro Spallanzani, Cremona (Italy)
Artificial chromosome-type transgenes – L Montoliu, National Center of Biotechnology, Madrid (Spain)
Transgenesis using lentiviral vectors: examples applied to the generation of transgenic rats – I. Anegon, Nantes (France)
The analysis of immune response using mutated mice – M. Malissen, Marseille (France)
Rodent models of neurodegenerative diseases – L. Lescaudron, Nantes (France)
Knock out and knock in strategies using ES cells to generate mutant mice – M. Cohen-Tannoudji, Pasteur Institute, Paris (France)

Shanna Maika

Shanna Maika at the Gala Dinner of the TT2008 meeting
Shanna Maika at the Gala Dinner of the TT2008 meeting

It is with great sadness that I have to inform about the recent loss of our dear colleague Shanna Maika. Shanna passed away earlier this month from metastatic breast cancer. Shanna Maika was RSA IV and Manager of the Mouse Genetic Engineering Facility of the University of Texas at Austin (TX, USA). Shanna had been a very committed and supportive member of ISTT since the foundation of our Society, in 2006. As a tribute in her memory, we have created this post at the ISTT blog where we will be publishing all comments received from people about Shanna.

Shanna was a very kind, generous and most respected person and scientist. At the International Society for Transgenic Technologies, where she was an active and most collaborative member since its foundation, we will deeply miss her a lot . On behalf of the ISTT, I want to express our most sincere condolences to her family and friends.
Lluis Montoliu

This very, very sad news. Shanna was indeed a joyful soul, it seemed to me, and a very warm and kind person. Such a loss…..
Shirley Pease

We miss her greatly. She was a wonderful friend, mentor and co-worker.
Deborah Surman

I am so stunned and sad to hear this. Shan was so wonderful.
Richard Behringer

I just heard of Shan’s passing and thought I would write a few words. I had the pleasure of meeting Shan back in the mid-nineties when she came to UT Austin to work in the Transgenic core we had just started there. She was always such a good person to be around, so soft spoken and laid back but with a fantastic sense of humor. She was also an incredible source of knowledge you could go to anytime with your questions. She will be greatly missed.
Chad Smith

I got to know Shan when she approached me at a meeting to discuss a protocol we were using. I really appreciated her willingness to share ideas. She had a wonderful quiet way that was backed up by a wicked, dry wit. She will be greatly missed in the Texas transgenic community.
Jan Parker-Thornburg

What a chok. I met Shanna at the ISTT meeting in Toronto. We where exchanging experience in mikroinjections and blastocyst injections wich was very richfull to me. She was a very nice person who made an impression.
Lisbeth Ahm Hansen

So sorry to hear about Shanna. What a terrible loss to the TG community. We will miss her at the next meeting, she had such a great personality.
Aimee Stablewski

Oh, what sad news. I met Shan when she came to Jax to take one of our cryo courses. She was indeed a lovely person, as everyone has said, and I shall miss seeing her at meetings and chatting with her on the phone.
Carlisle Landel

Shan Maika visiting Brinsters lab in Philly (1995) (Picture by Bob Hammer)
Shan Maika visiting Brinster's lab in Philly (1995) (Picture by Bob Hammer)

Shan Maika’s passing this month from metastatic breast cancer brought great, great sadness to the members of my laboratory, the UT Southwestern Medical Center, UT Austin and the broader Texas animal communities using genetically engineered rodents in their research programs. Shan joined my laboratory at UT Southwestern as an entry-level technician in May of 1987 and was assigned general duties, which included setting up timed matings, tailing mice and genotyping putative founders by dot blotting. It quickly became very clear to me that Shan really enjoyed animal work and had the intellectual curiosity, patience and manual dexterity to learn and master the array of techniques needed to successfully manipulate rodent embryos as well as perform all of her other lab duties. When Shan joined my laboratory there were no other labs at UT Southwestern practicing these techniques and needless to say we were completely inundated with requests to collaborate with every lab that wanted to generate any transgenic mouse. Shan, David Clouthier, a graduate student in the lab, and I were generating all of the genetically modified mice at the time and needless to say we were overwhelmed with requests for information and continued, never ending assistance. I recall that when we were completely swamped with requests that we simply could not fulfill in a timely manner, Shan would invariably respond to me in her typical style which was “let’s just piece away and we will get through this”. She was a remarkable individual, kind to a fault, gentle and so full of an appreciation for the small treasures in life. She truly enjoyed the process of discovery and the camaraderie that it created. She was as excited by a beautiful dot blot, a great set of pronuclear eggs, a successful caesarian section and fostering as well as having a Swirl (margarita with a sangria swirl) with the “girls” at a local watering hole or listening to Guy Clark at a local Dallas venue. She brought a spirit and zest to my laboratory that was irreplaceable.
When I would discuss new opportunities for investigation with Shan she would always exclaim a level of enthusiasm that was simply contagious. Shan was instrumental in extending transgenisis to rats and by the time she left my lab in 1998 to become the manager of the Mouse Genetic Engineering Facility of the University of Texas at Austin, we had introduced over 40 different transgenes into the rat genome. Given our success with rat transgenisis, I naively assumed that we might be able to generate a pluripotent line of rat embryonic stem cells with which we could create rats harboring select mutants. Of course Shan loved the idea of trying to isolate rat es cell lines and for the next 6 years she worked tirelessly trying an array of cooked-up strategies to pull this off. We got very, very close but ultimately never fully succeeded. Her work schedule on this project included being in lab 7 days a week despite living a little more than an hour from the lab. While most, if not all, individuals would certainly have shrunk from the overwhelming sense of chronic failure on this project, Shan just became ever more determined. In the end she created several mouse embryonic stem cell lines from both 129S6 and B6 strains, one that bears her initials (SM1s), which have been used to target more than 500 different genes at UT Southwestern and UT Austin. Shan was an individual that one meets very infrequently in life. She always had time for those individuals in my lab and other labs that needed a shoulder to cry on. She was markedly unpretentious and reserved yet insightful and fully engaged in the discovery process. She embraced a philosophy that we affectionately referred to in the lab as the “Mole Philosophy”. The philosophy espoused an intense, focused, and dogged approach to a scientific pursuit without distractions until some measure of success had been achieved. Shan captured the essentials of this philosophy in a cartoon in which she sketched a mole excavating underground in pursuit of the Promised Land some distance away. The mole poked his head up once along his journey to gather some air, look around and ask- Am I still going in the right direction? She simply left the cartoon on my desk without exchanging any words. None were necessary!
I can truly say that I never had more fun in my lab than when Shan and I were microinjecting rat eggs in the early evening while listening to “her” Texas Rangers on the radio and anticipating heading out with the rest of the lab for a meal at one of her favorite restaurants after we finished up with transferring the embryos. For those of us who had the good fortune to know Shan, she was just an amazing woman. She will be remembered not only for her many scientific accomplishments but most importantly for her genuine, undying sense of friendship, her uncanny appreciation for good story telling, her smile and laugh, her many sly, poignant, pithy sayings and her incredible work ethic. We will all miss her.

Robert Hammer
Graydon Heartsill Professorship in Medical Science
Dept. of Biochemistry
Green Center for Reproductive Biology
University of Texas Southwestern Medical School
Dallas, Texas, USA

New layout released of the ISTT website

New layout of the ISTT website
New layout of the ISTT website

A new layout of the ISTT website has been released. The ISTT website has been entirely rebuilt and refreshed, with and updated, modern and dynamic new layout. Visit the new ISTT website and explore by yourself all the modifications, improvements and subtle changes that have been implemented. Now, there is a lot more information available at first glance, most of it at a distance of one click. A search engine has been also included in the ISTT website.

The different sections included in the ISTT website have been grouped logically into four main categories, namely: SOCIETY, MEMBERS, MEETINGS and RESOURCES. A convenient and useful dropdown menus deploy under each of these main categories, revealing the different subsections they include. A similar scheme has also been applied for the members-only area, that has also been re-structured and rebuilt.

TT2008 report published in Transgenic Research

Report of the TT2008 meeting published in Transgenic Research
Report of the TT2008 meeting published in Transgenic Research

The report of the past TT2008 meeting, written by Boris Jerchow (MDC, Berlin, Germany), the Organizer of the next TT2010 meeting, has been published in Transgenic Research. In this report, Boris Jerchow summarises the topics covered during the conference held in Toronto (Canada) last year, organized by Kristina Nagy (formerly Vintersten), Marina Gertsestein and Andras Nagy, and introduces the venue for the next forthcoming TT meeting (TT2010), which will be held in Berlin, Germany, at the MDC, in March 22-24, 2010.

Johannes Wilbertz awarded with ISTT Honorary Membership

Johannes Wilbertz awarded with ISTT Honorary Membership
Johannes Wilbertz awarded with ISTT Honorary Membership

The ISTT Council has decided, unanimously, to award Johannes Wilbertz with ISTT Honorary Membership. Johannes Wilbertz, Director of the Karolinska Center for Transgene Technologies at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, has not only served as ISTT Vice-President since the foundation of the Society in 2006 until now, but he has also been a fundamental person in the animal transgenesis field. He envisaged and pioneered the initiative of the Transgenic Technology (TT) meetings, and as such, organized or was involved in the organization of the first six conferences that were held before the foundation of ISTT, between 1999 and 2005.

Johannes Wilbertz awarded ISTT Honorary Membership
Johannes Wilbertz awarded with ISTT Honorary Membership

The ISTT Council wishes to highlight what has been always his main aim, namely, to promote the figure of technicians in transgenic animal facilities, to increase the respect they deserve and their special needs for formation, creating appropriate forums for discussion and specially caring for their educational interests, thus trying always to organize talks, sessions, workshops that could be beneficial for them while still be also attractive to scientists adn to any other interested researcher within the field of genetically modified animals. This is genuine and his original idea, and this is at the core, at the basis of this Society, aiming to combine the interests of both technician/students and scientists working with transgenic animals, and all this has been made possible by Johannes Wilbertz’s first vision. Therefore, in recognisition to all the above, and according to ISTT bylaws (article 25d), for his fundamental contribution to the foundation and development of ISTT, the ISTT Council has decided to award him with lifetime ISTT Honorary Membership. Congratulations Johannes!

Thom Saunders elected new ISTT Vice-President

Thom Saunders, elected Vice-President of ISTT
Thom Saunders, elected Vice-President of ISTT

Thom Saunders, Managing Director of the Transgenic Animal Model Core of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA), has been elected new Vice-President of ISTT after the elections run at the ISTT. Thom Saunders will substitute Johannes Wilbertz in his duties as ISTT Vice-President. Thom Saunders was elected with the 61% support of votes received. The other candidate in this election process, Tom Fielder, Transgenic Mouse Facility Manager at the University California-Irvine, CA, USA, collected 35% of votes received. Additionally, there were 4% of blank votes. Participation was 27% of current ISTT Membership. From the ISTT we wish to sincerely thank both candidates and all members that have voted for participating in this election process. Congratulations Thom!