In Memory of Ueli Märki

In Memory of Ueli Märki
In Memory of Ueli Märki

On Thursday I got the very sad information that Ueli (Ulrich) Märki passed away on Saturday last week. This is a great loss for all that got to know him and we all mourn with his family about this tragic loss.
I first got in contact to Ueli during my university time in Heidelberg in the beginning of the 90th, while he was still working for RCC in Switzerland. I got to know him as a very dedicated scientist (thanks for teaching me a lot of mouse genetics Ueli!) a very nice colleague and in the long-run as a dear friend. When we initiated the first Transgenic Symposium in Heidelberg in 1993, he was one of the supporting persons, encouraging us to get this meeting up and running.
During the forthcoming years I met Ueli at various meetings and it was always a pleasure and a lot of fun together with him. I especially enjoyed the unofficial parts at the meetings, which we spend with a good beer or wine, discussing all the world and his brother. Even when I moved over to Sweden and he joining Taconic we kept the contact even when we then didn’t meet so often. And it was again he helping me a lot with setting up the first TT Meeting in Stockholm 1999. He was also one of the first to join the ISTT when it was founded, always supporting us with good ideas, but also challenging us when something didn’t seemed to go the right way.
I was looking forward meeting him again at the next GV-SOLAS meeting this year in September. I am going to miss and will hold him in good remembrance, as valued researcher and dear friend.
Our deepest regrets and condolences go to his family and his close friends. We are going to miss him unspeakably.

Johannes Wilbertz



The ISTT endorses the ARRIVE guidelines

The ISTT endorses the ARRIVE guidelines
The ISTT endorses the ARRIVE guidelines

The International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT), through its executive board, has decided to enthusiastically endorse the ARRIVE Guidelines, promoted from the NC3Rs, further highlighting the committment of our Society with best practices in animal research and animal welfare.

The ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) guidelines were developed as part of an NC3Rs (National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research) initiative to improve the reporting of biomedical research using animals. The ARRIVE guidelines consist of a checklist of 20 items, containing key information necessary to describe a study comprehensively and transparently. The ARRIVE guidelines can be used to ensure reproducibility of animal research and avoid unnecessary animal use.

The ARRIVE guidelines were published in PLOS Biology in 2010 by Kilkenny et al., as well as in other scientific journals. The ISTT joins now a growing list of over 300 journals, funders , univeristies and learned societies endorsing the ARRIVE guidelines. From the ISTT we warmly invite all our members and any researcher, technician or student within our community to download the ARRIVE guidelines, carefully read them and act accordingly, in every subsequent publication or report.

SALAAM: Sharing Advances on Large Animal Models

SALAAM: Sharing Advances on Large Animal Models
SALAAM: Sharing Advances on Large Animal Models

The EU-COST action SALAAM (Sharing Advances on Large Animal Models) was launched yesterday in Brussels, at a kick-off meeting attended by most of its members. This 4-year EU-COST action is currently formed by 17 countries and more than 44 participants, including many experts in the fields of animal genetics, physiology, transgenesis, bioethics, welfare and animal science, with a focus on large (i.e. non-rodent) animal models. This EU-COST action is chaired by Prof Eckhard Wolf (Germany) and vice-chaired by Dr. Pascale Chavatte-Palmer (France) and it includes various ISTT members such as Bruce Whitelaw (UK), Zsuzsanna Bosze (Hungary), András Dinnyes (Hungary), Cesare Galli (Italy) and Lluis Montoliu (Spain). In addition, another participant in this EU-COST action, Angelika Schnieke (Germany) is one of the invited speakers at the forthcoming 12th Transgenic Technology (TT2014) meeting to be held in Edinburgh (Scotland, UK).

EU-COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is one of the oldest European initiatives in Science, an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level. SALAAM EU-COST action, as its acronym indicates, aims to sharing advances in genetic engineering and phenotyping of non-rodent mammals to develop predictive animal models for translational medicine. While recognizing the value of small and most popular animal models (mouse, rat, zebrafish, Drosophila, C. elegans, …) and its powerful genetics for increasing our knowledge on complex biological systems and for proof-of-concept-type experiments, this EU-COST action SALAAM focuses on large (i.e. non-rodent) mammalian models, since these may bridge the gap between proof-of-concept studies and more effective clinical trials, leading to better translational animal models for the study of human diseases. The research projects undertaken using rodent and non-rodent animal models should not be perceived as competition or opposed initiatives, rather as complementary studies, where each animal species is selected according to its particular value and expected benefits for the ultimate goal, that is, our understanding on the function of the mammalian (i.e. human) genome and the eventual development of effective treatments for many human diseases. During the course of this EU-COST action several conferences and training workshops will be organized, open to anyone interested in the field, to discuss about (1) new technologies (including the application of genome editing nucleases, i.e. CRISPR-Cas, for the generation of improved genetically altered animal models); (2) defining best animal models for specific phenotyping studies; (3) creation of databases for sharing information on animal models creates, tissues available and protocols; and (4) animal welfare, bioethics and communication to the public. All these conferences and training courses will be adequately advertised through the ISTT web site.

At the International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT) we care about the generation and the analysis of “all” genetically altered animals, not only focused in the classical rodent models, but also including the work done with other species, with large animal models, in livestock. In this regard, the ISTT has been traditionally supporting conferences on non-rodent transgenic animals, organized in Tahoe by ISTT Member Jim Murray (UC Davis, USA) and has promoted a web page within the ISTT web site where most of the advances on livestock and other non-rodent genetically modified animal resources are shared. At the next 12th Transgenic Technology (TT2014) meeting, which will be held in Edinburgh on 6-8 October 2014, the Conference Organizers (Douglas Strathdee-Chair, Peter Hohenstein and Bruce Whitelaw) have scheduled a session on animal biotechnology, where the recent work accomplished using large animal models will be discussed. In addition, immediately following the TT2014 meeting, a hands-on workshop on zebrafish transgenesis methods will be offered to interested participants.

Meeting report: Promoting the international exchange of mouse mutant resources

Infrafrontier-IMPC workshop: Promoting the international exchange of mouse mutant resources, Munich, Germany, 8-9 May 2014
Infrafrontier-IMPC workshop: Promoting the international exchange of mouse mutant resources, Munich, Germany, 8-9 May 2014

This is a brief meeting report on the INFRAFRONTIER /IMPC workshop: Promoting the international exchange of mouse mutant resources, which was held in Munich, Germany, on 08-09 May 2014.
As indicated in the corresponding Infrafrontier web page: “The main objectives of the workshop were to discuss how to simplify the international exchange of mouse mutant resources and to define the procedural changes to achieve it, to review the key issues facing the mouse community and mouse repositories as well as focus on IP issues and to present best practices in sharing research tools. The workshop was targeted at the directors of major mouse repositories, IP and technology transfer experts, representatives of scientific journals and funders and attracted the attention of 70 participants.” Delegates from major mouse repositories (JAX, MMRRC, EMMA, CMMR, RIKEN BRC, CARD, MARC), mouse international projects and consortia (EUCOMM, EUCOMMTOOLS, KOMP, KOMP2, IKMC, IMPC, KMPC), other related consortia (SGC), scientific journals (Nature, PLOS), funding agencies (NIH), companies (BioDoc, Charles River, AddGene), associations (AMMRA, AMPC, FELASA, EARA), TTOs and lawyers from numerous institutions and end-users gathered to discuss about how to best promote the international exchange of mouse mutant resources.

This workshop was funded by the EC FP7 InfraCoMP project. InfraCoMP’s main objective is to coordinate the collaborative efforts between the Infrafrontier Research Infrastructure and the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC). The scope of this Infrafrontier-IMPC workshop in Munich included various major topics, such as:

  • to discuss about simplified procedures to effectively exchange mouse mutant resources among repositories and between repositories and end-users/customers, trying to review and fix all restrictions preventing from adequately sharing major mouse mutant resources.
  • to review the key issues currently faced by the mouse community and mouse repositories, including emerging new genome editing technologies (ZFNs, TALENs, CRISPRs) and the role of mouse archives in the international exchange of mouse mutant resources
  • to discuss on IP issues and the administrative paperwork usually associated with any transactional international negotiation involving licenses and MTAs
  • to showcase best practices, examples of successful sharing research tools that could be applied on sharing mouse mutant resources

This workshop represented a continuation towards the eventual application of the agreements included in the so-called Rome Agenda, published in 2009 (Schofield et al. 2009, Nature) where the major headlines, best practices and recommendations concerning the deposit and sharing of biological resources, including mice, ES cells and germplasm, under the least restrictive terms possible, had been already discussed and identified but, unfortunately, not sufficiently widespread nor systematically followed, in spite of new initiatives adopted by some funding agencies, enforcing public-access policies for materials associated with projects funded by the NIH or the Wellcome Trust in order to receive the allocated funds.

The impact of the new genome editing technologies on current mouse consortia and mouse archives was discussed at length and in depth, from various angles and by different speakers. It is obvious that a new logic has emerged, the updated mouse genetics toolbox and its widespread among scientists enables them to generate their mouse mutants of interest through alternative, often faster approaches. Instead of considering the new endonuclease-mediated mutations solely a threat for traditional approaches, based on ES cell clones (however using higher genetic and quality-controlled standards), it was finally interpreted as an opportunity for mouse consortia and repositories. For example, the easier and faster generation of new mouse mutations could help finishing the functional annotations of the mouse genome, for all these loci that could not be targeted or, if targeted, did not result in the corresponding mouse strain through IKMC-IMPC current approaches.

The description of innovative shipment methods, for refrigerated biological materials, or using dry-ice, as compared to the standard but more complex liquid-nitrogen dry shippers was also discussed in order to make the distribution of mouse mutant resources cheaper and easier. The new set of sperm and oocyte cryopreservation methods and the optimized associated IVF procedures, as reported by CARD, Kumamoto University, in Japan, have also greatly contributed to promote the international exchange of mouse mutant resources, avoiding the always difficult and expensive shipment of live research laboratory animals.

The legal agreements, such as Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs), governing the access to mouse mutant resources were also discussed extensively. The complexity of some of these MTAs and the often long administrative process involved for executing them, unnecessarily extends the time required to access to a given mouse mutant strain deposited in a major repository for academic use. Interesting analyses of common practices observed within the international mouse community and applied by mouse consortia were presented (Bubela et al. 2012; Mishra and Bubela, 2014). The overall recommendation was, whenever possible, avoid using specific MTAs and favor the unrestrictive distribution of mouse resources through simpler “conditions of use”, as regularly applied by The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) to all their mouse strains, and by EMMA-INFRAFRONTIER, for mouse lines non-associated to specific MTAs, in order also to reduce the administrative time to the minimum. In case MTAs should be included, for academic non-commercial use, the recommendations discussed were to simplify, and unify, the document as much as possible, ideally without requesting to disclose the field of use, without imposing reach through on modifications of the received materials and clearly defining third-party use after permission has been obtained. Attribution should also be clearly encouraged. Examples of simplified MTAs, also including useful institutional versions of these agreements, can be found at KOMP. The model deployed by AddGene, a non-profit organization dedicated to efficiently distribute plasmids among the scientific community, using also simple MTA procedures, was also presented as an example of successful solution.

Overall, this intense 2-day Infrafrontier-IMPC workshop fulfilled its aims and expectations. All stakeholders in the field could openly express their opinions, fears, opportunities, problems and solutions. The Organizers should be praised for their selection of speakers, topics and participants. Now it will be the time for the most difficult part: converting the agreements and recommendations into realities, while ensuring that researchers in academia, using mouse mutant resources, have an easier, simpler and faster access to mice and/or their associated products, for the benefit of science, and knowledge advance.

Infrafrontier-IMPC workshop: Promoting the international exchange of mouse mutant resources, Munich, Germany, 8-9 May 2014
Infrafrontier-IMPC workshop: Promoting the international exchange of mouse mutant resources, Munich, Germany, 8-9 May 2014

Submit your abstract(s) to the TT2014 meeting in Edinburgh: 30 June

Submit your abstract(s) to the TT2014 meeting in Edinburgh: 30 June
Submit your abstract(s) to the TT2014 meeting in Edinburgh: 30 June

The submission of abstracts for the 12th Transgenic Technology (TT2014) meeting, to be held in Edinburgh (Scotland, UK), on 6-8 October, is OPEN. All TT2014 participants are encouraged to submit their work as an abstract for poster presentation at the TT2014 meeting. Authors are requested to submit an abstract with the following requirements: Title (max. 25 words), Name authors and affiliations (first author is the presenting author), and, Text of the communication (max. 400 words). Abstracts should be submitted no later than June 30, 2014. Accepted abstracts will be published in the scientific journal Transgenic Research (Springer), to which the ISTT is associated.

Posters will be on display in the exhibition area throughout the duration of the meeting. Poster boards are 1.00m wide x 2.00m high and we recommend posters do not exceed 1.50m in length. A supply of Velcro tabs will be available at the venue. No screws or double-sided adhesive tape will be allowed due to the damage they can cause to the boards. All presented Posters at the TT2014 meeting will be entitled to the Best Poster Awards, generously sponsored by Charles River.

Oral Presentations
A limited number of abstract submissions will be selected and invited to present their findings in the form of a short oral presentation within the main meeting program. Should you be interested in being considered to speak at the meeting please select the appropriate option when submitting your abstract.

Abstracts are invited on all aspects of Transgenic Technologies, including the conference themes as listed below:

  • New technologies in animal transgenesis
  • Embryo stem cells
  • Target nucleases or Editing nucleases (ZFNs, TALENs, CRISPRs)
  • Large-scale phenotyping
  • Animal Biotechnology
  • Imaging with transgenic animals
  • Mouse models of human disease
  • Zebrafish models of human disease and transgenesis
  • Animal ethics and welfare