On August 7th 2016, Laura Pozzi, a pioneer of transgenesis in Italy, passed away at the age of 80.
She was associate professor at the University “La Sapienza” in Rome and during the 80’s of the last century was among the first researchers in Italy to set up, with minimal equipments, often handmade, and with great commitment and personal sacrifice, a laboratory for the generation of transgenic mice. This facility was for a long time one of the few reference points for anyone who wanted to get a transgenic mouse in Italy, so that colleagues jokingly called her “the mother of all the Italian transgenic mice”. Over the years she trained a lot of people on transgenic technologies. On them she had a profound influence and to them she left an irreplaceable legacy of theoretical and practical knowledge that has had a strong impact on their future professional life. Many people who are now operating in the field of transgenesis in Italy, were formed at her school. She was a strict and demanding teacher, but it was so clear to us, her trainees , that her ultimate goal was to provide the best training and formation possible, that we all loved and respected her as a mother and master.
Open-minded, cultivated and great traveler, conversing with her was always pleasant and interesting. Even in private life her main purpose was to be helpful to others: she spent herself as a teacher of Italian language to foreign refugees, like a grandmother she took care of children of friends and neighbours. And all this without bragging and always with her smile and her subtle English humor that she absorbed during a long stay in Great Britain.
After retirement she always remained in touch with her former students and she followed with pleasure and interest, even though she was not a member, the ISTT site using the password of one of us. When, with advancing age, she realized that it was impossible for her to be independent as she wanted and not wanting to be a burden to anyone, with great clarity, serenity and courage she decided that her moment had arrived and left this world, recommending to friends to remember her with a smile.
Elisabetta Mattei, Laura Tatangelo and Isabella Manni
It is with gread sadness that I learnt from Elisabetta Mattei about the recent passing of Laura Pozzi. She was my first mentor in mouse transgenesis. I was privileged to attend, as the only non-Italian trainee in a small group of five students, a two-weeks intensive practical course on the generation of transgenic mice organized in Siena in 1990, at the headquarters of the pharmaceutical company Sclavo. At the time I was still finishing my PhD in Plant Molecular Genetics, using maize as my experimental model, and I was already preparing myself to begin a future postdoctoral stay in Heidelberg as a mouse geneticist. I landed in Tuscany knowing nothing about transgenic mice and, thanks to the wisdom and teaching abilities of Laura and her team of collaborators, I left Italy with the required solid and robust starting knowledge to work with mice that has travelled with me since then. I went from maize to mice and Laura played a fundamental role in my transitioning between these two experimental models. Throughout the years I remained in touch with Laura and we often commented technical breakthroughs in the field. She was also happy to see the developments and success of the ISTT. I always had her as my first reference in mouse transgenesis. She deserves to be remembered as a most influential person for the mouse transgenics community in Italy and Europe.
Happy New Year to all ISTT Members!. Here, you can download a free copy of the 2016 ISTT Calendar. This edition has been nicely prepared by ISTT Board Member Karen Brennan (Sydney, Australia), using numerous beautiful images generously provided by ISTT members. Download it, print it and use it!. Enjoy it!.
A minimum of six Registration Awards will be sponsored by the International Society for Transgenic Technologies for ISTT members wishing to attend the 13th Transgenic Technologies (TT2016) meeting in Prague, The Czech Republic, on 20-23rd March, 2016. Selected applicants will be awarded funding to cover registration fees plus attendance at all social events. However, the award does not cover travel expenses, hotel accommodation or attendance at pre-meeting events.
Applicants who are not yet members of the ISTT may join the ISTT and simultaneously submit their Registration Award application. Only those applications from members who have paid their current annual fees will be considered.
Applicants must register first at the TT2016 Meeting website and select, as a payment method, “Application for Registration Awards” as a payment method. The ISTT will pay the Registration Fee of all applicants selected for an award. Applicants not selected will be kindly requested to pay the corresponding registration fee.
Applications and additional required documents (see below) should be sent, along with the meeting registration confirmation, to the official ISTT email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, by 30th November, 2015.
Additional Documentation Required
a) Applicant’s CV
b) For ordinary members, a letter from the applicant describing how he/she will benefit from attending the TT meeting
c) For technician/student members, a letter of support from the applicant’s PI or supervisor stating how attendance will benefit the applicant’s career
ISTT Registration awards will be selected by a subset of ISTT Council members, with preference given to:
1) Student/Technician ISTT Members
2) ISTT Members submitting an abstract for presentation as a poster/short-oral communication at the TT meeting
3) Any other ISTT Member
Awards to the selected applicants will be announced by December 15th, 2015 and awardees will receive a diploma marking the event at the end of the TT2016 Meeting.
Last September, in Buffalo (USA), at the CARD-RPCI Mouse Sperm and Embryo Cryopreservation course organized by Naomi Nakagata, Aimee Stablewski and Jan Parker-Thornburg, Naomi Nakagata himself presented the preliminary results of an amazing achievement in Reproductive Biology they had accomplished at the University of Kumamoto (Japan), namely: the obtention of more than 100 oocytes per C57BL/6 female after devising a new protocol for superovulation, a method they introduced as ULTRA-superovulation. Now, these totally unexpected results see the light in the form of a scientific manuscript, published yesterday in the PLOS ONE journal:
In brief, in this publication, Toru Takeo and Naomi Nakagata describe their superovulation results using young (4-weeks old) C57BL/6 female after envisaging a new priming protocol. The combined used of equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) and inhibin antiserum (IAS), in a protocol they call IASe treatment, significantly increased the number of oocytes obtained per C57BL/6 females. On average, more than 100 oocytes/female were obtained, about 3-4 times the number of oocytes regularly obtained by classical superovulation protocols. Thereafter, the authors tested the quality of these oocytes and used them for IVF, obtaining high fertilization rates (~90%), comparable to the high values regularly obtained with the new CARD methods these authors also devised recently, which have boosted the field of cryopreservation of mutant mice. Furthermore, the authors verified that the number of pups obtained after transferring all these embryos, obtained from IASe-derived oocytes and IVF into recipients, was also 2-3 times higher.
The IAS reagent used by Takeo & Nakagata is not yet commercially available. In the paper, the authors produced the IAS by themselves and titrated the product until finding the optimal dose required for maximum output. On the contrary, eCG is commercially available and is commonly used in all mouse reproductive biology and transgenic labs to promote follicle growth. Subsequent experiments will be needed to explore the validity of these results in other mouse strains and species. In addition, a commercial reliable and validated source of IAS will greatly facilitate the dissemination of this new ultra-superovulation method among the scientific community. It is also remarkable to note that the application of the IASe treatment will logically reduce the number of superovulated donor females required to obtain oocytes for cryopreservation/IVF purposes, as nicely demonstrated in this first publication, and, likely, for other aims (i.e. microinjection of DNA or RNA/genome editors to produce genetically altered mice).
Congratulations once again to Toru Takeo and Naomi Nakagata for these impressing results and for their new spectacular achievement in mouse reproductive biology!.
Meet the ISTT at the 8th Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models (IMM2015) that will be held on 11-12 June 2015, in Leiden, the Netherlands. The popular biannual “Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models” brings together a diverse group of scientists interested in developing and exploiting mouse models to study fundamental developmental processes and to mimic human disease. Keynote speakers from leading laboratories present the latest developments on advanced genome alteration protocols, this year specifically focusing on the use of CRISPR/Cas9-assisted gene modification. Also novel imaging-technologies will be presented. The two-day workshop format combines keynote lectures and presentations of selected abstracts in order to encourage in-depth and unvarnished discussions of novel technologies.
For more information, scientific programme with confirmed speakers and registration, please visit: http://research.nki.nl/immworkshop/
Looking forward to meet many of you at IMM2015 in Leiden!
These are the 10 outstanding scientists awarded the ISTT Prize for the period 2001-2014. The ISTT was founded in 2006 and the first ISTT Prize was awarded in Toronto, at the TT2008 meeting. Previously, these awards were known as the genOway Prize for transgenic technologies.
Janet Rossant, 10th ISTT Prize, TT2014 meeting, Edinburgh, UK
Allan Bradley, 9th ISTT Prize, TT2013 meeting, Guangzhou, China
Ralph L. Brinster, 8th ISTT Prize, TT2011 meeting, Florida, USA
A. Francis Stewart, 7th ISTT Prize, TT2010 meeting, Berlin, Germany
The aim is to offer a training course of excellence for researchers and technicians working in animal transgenic field. The topics will be focused on both the basic knowledge and the latest advances in transgenic technologies. The course consists of a 1st week of lectures sessions and a 2nd week of practical sessions. In addition, a mini symposium (11-12 September) is organized in order to extend the impact of the presence of the professors to other researchers, technicians and posgraduate students. Current programs for the COURSE and MINI-SYMPOSIUM.
Confirmed speakers attending this Course and mini-Symposium include:
Michel Cohen-Tannoudji, IPParis, France
Francina Langa, IP Paris, France, ISTT member
Ignacio Anegón, INSERM, Nantes, France, ISTT member
Lluis Montoliu, CNB, Spain, ISTT member
Jorge Sztein, consultant, Spain
Sylva Haralambous, HPI, Greece, ISTT member
Naomi Nakagata, CARD, Kumamoto U, Japan, ISTT member
Charles Long, Texas A&M University, USA
Daniel Salamone, Fagro, UBA, Argentina
Adrian Mutto, UNSM, Argentina
Marcelo Rubinstein, INGEBI, Argentina, ISTT member
Marcelo Bertolini, UNIFOR, Brazil
Local professors and instructors include:
Magdalena Cárdenas, IP Montevideo, Uruguay
Ana Paula Mulet, IP Montevideo, Uruguay
Geraldine Schlapp, IP Montevideo, Uruguay, ISTT member
María Noel Meikle, IP Montevideo, Uruguay, ISTT member
Gabriel Fernández, IP Montevideo, Uruguay
Ana Paula Arévalo, IP Montevideo, Uruguay
Martina Crispo, IP Montevideo, Uruguay, ISTT member
Pedro C. dos Santos, IRAUy, Uruguay
Natalibeth Barrera, IRAUy, Uruguay
Federico Cuadro, IRAUy, Uruguay
Alejo Menchaca, IRAUy, Montevideo, Uruguay, ISTT member
People interested in participating in this COURSE must send the COURSE Application Form to email@example.com
A maximum of 20 students will be accepted for the COURSE taking into account personal qualifications. There is no registration fee for the COURSE. Support for accommodation, per diem and local transportation will be provided to all participants from abroad. Travel expenses are not included.
People interested in participating in the MINI SYMPOSIUM must send the SYMPOSIUM Registration Form to firstname.lastname@example.org
SYMPOSIUM fee is U$S 100.
SAVE THE DATES!
Deadline for COURSE applications is June 28th
Deadline for SYMPOSIUM registrations is July 19th
For any further information contact: email@example.com
About a month ago, shortly before the season break, and very timely to enjoy its Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt), the kick-off meeting of the Project SALAAM (Sharing Advances on Large Animal Models) took place in Munich (Germany), 15-17 December 2014, beautifully organized by Eckhard Wolf and Pascale Chavatte-Palmer, Chair and Co-Chair of this EU-COST Action BM1308. This conference, open to any interested researcher in the field, represented the official launch of the SALAAM project, to discuss about the role of large animal models in Translational Medicine, “Bridging the Gap between Basic and Clinical Research”, as indicated in the SALAAM logo. During these three days, about 120 scientists, including researchers not initially associated with SALAAM (including several ISTT members), gathered at the Gene Center, LMU Munich, to share their views about the role of large animal models in biomedicine.
The meeting started with a welcome address by Eckhard Wolf (LMU, Munich, Chair of SALAAM) who set the stage and underlined the need to use appropriate animal models for succeeding in translational research. In the past, large amount of resources have been devoted to rodents, mostly mice, in biomedicine, where mouse models have become instrumental for the current understanding of how most of our genes work and greatly facilitated the progress in the post-genomic era. However, in spite of mice being widely used in Biomedicine to model human diseases, often mice fail to accurately reproduce the features associated with a given human pathology. Therefore there is an urgent need to develop non-rodent animal models that would mimic aspects of human anatomy and human physiology more closely. Pigs, small ruminants and rabbits appear to be excellent candidates to follow up the preliminary discoveries made in mice, and they are the main purpose of the SALAAM initiative, through all the appointed participants, experts in these large animal models. The conference continued for its first day with lectures by A. Aartsma-Rus (NL), and S. Wildhirt (DE), who described examples of use of large animal models for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and for the development of medical devices, respectively. The initial Ethical perspective on the use of large animals was provided by N. Stingelin (CH). This first day concluded with an interesting key-note lecture by M.M. Mohiuddin (USA) on the recent advances in pig-to-primate cardiac xenotransplantation.
On the second day, the conference presented the very large repertoire of methods and techniques that are currently available for Genetic Tailoring of large animal models. Angelika Schnieke (DE) introduced the state of art for the current genetic engineering of large animals, nicely summarizing many years of techniques and developments that have been successfully applied for the production of large genetically modified animal models. This initial talk was followed by a presentation by Lluis Montoliu (ES) on the use of CRISPR-Cas9 approaches to functionally analyze the role of non-coding genomic sequences, illustrated with some examples tested in mice, depicting the important role of rodents in proof-of-concept type of experiments, before undertaking subsequent experiments in larger animal models. B. Grzeskowiak (PL) presented an innovative set of nanomagnetic gene delivery vectors for transgenesis. Two additional talks illustrated the power of genetic engineering of the pig genome, using transposons (W.A. Kues, DE) or very elaborated gene cassettes for regulating and tracing disease genes (J.E. Jakobsen, DK). The session ended with a presentation from goats, where L. Boulanger (FR) reported the role of FOXL2 as a female sex-determining gene.
The SALAAM conference continued with a session devoted to systematic phenotyping initiatives of large animal models. At first, H. Fuchs (DE), presented the experience and phenotyping pipeline of the German Mouse Clinic, operating within the Infrafrontier consortium, and a good example of successful systematic phenotyping in mice. Next, Pascale Chavatte-Palmer (FR) discussed the achievements and challenges of imaging techniques in large animal models, through her studies on reproduction and fetal development. J. Tibau (ES) presented his interesting studies using pigs to analyze human obesity and to validate the effect of diets on the evolution of fat deposition using tomography approaches. A. Blutke (DE) introduced the impressive Munich MIDY-PIG Biobank initiative, as a unique resource for translational diabetes research. The two last talks presented the use of pigs as models for respiratory infections (K. Skovgaard, DK) or cystic fibrosis (I. Caballero, FR).
The last standard session of this SALAAM conference was devoted to discuss how to select the best animal model. This session began with an interesting presentation by J. Langermans (NL), who shared their initiative of non-human primate biobanking for translational medicine, a collaborative consortium where most of the nonhuman primate research centres in Europe were represented. He also discussed the unique features of non-human primates to investigate devastating diseases affecting us, such as the new infections (i.e. Ebola) or neurodegenerative diseases (i.e. Alzheimer, Parkinson) , often very challenging to be reproduced in non-primate animal models. Next, Antonio Gonzalez-Bulnes (ES) discussed the advantages and challenges of using pigs and sheep animal models, whereas L. Hiripi (HU) presented the unique features of the rabbit models. V. Huygelen (BE) discussed the use of piglets to investigate the human low birth weight cases , and A. Navarrete Santos (DE) further presented rabbits as ideal models for investigating diabetes during pregnancy. Diabetes research was also the focus of the last speaker of the session, G. Pennarossa (IT), whose experimental dessigns are focused on the use of dogs to explore cell therapy-based treatments.
The SALAAM first public conference ended with an excellent and very motivating talk by Karin Blumer (CH) on the ethical aspects of using large animals. She challenged the audience with the question whether “size did matter?” when it comes to Ethics and Animal Models. Her presentation nicely illustrated the different Ethical perspectives existing in the field and, most importantly, the relevant parameters that should be taken into account in order to properly address this question. She presented the “size” of an animal as an accidental attribute, not an intrinsic value, that must not determine its moral status. This presentation triggered an interesting and live discussion among the participants.
On the third and last day, the different working groups of SALAAM gathered first independently to discuss the next initiatives and eventually shared their conclusions in a combined general session. The planned initiatives will include the organization of practical workshops on CRISPR-Cas9 and transposon technologies, the generation of specific pig Cre-transgenic lines for the production of conditional pig mutant animal models, the need to standardize phenotyping protocols associated with additional specific training courses, the preparation of biobanks and associated databases for archiving and sharing tissues from large animal models, and the creation of a group to analyze the implementation of the 2010/63/EU Directive across Europe, the public perception and ethical issues of animal research, and the need for training to adequately communicate results to the public.
Information about future plans, initiatives and activities of the SALAAM EU-COST action will be available from its dedicated web site.
Happy New Year to all ISTT Members!. Here, you can download a free copy of the 2015 ISTT Calendar. This edition has been nicely prepared by ISTT Board Member Karen Brennan (Sydney, Australia), using numerous beautiful images generously provided by members and supporting companies. Download it, print it and use it!. Enjoy it!.