A week in October in Bar Harbor

View of Bar Harbor from Mount Cadillac, on Mount Desert Island, Maine, USA
View of Bar Harbor from Mount Cadillac, on Mount Desert Island, Maine, US

If there is a paradise it must be very similar to Mount Desert Island, in Maine, on the Nort-Eastern coast of USA. Two weeks ago, during the last week of October (26-29), the International Mammalian Genome Society (IMGS) held its 28th International Mammalian Genome Conference (IMGC) in Bar Harbor, ME, USA, a beautiful village surrounded by nature, a most popular tourist spot in Summer, the place where The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) is located, and an excellent venue to hold a scientific conference in Autumn. Some 200 geneticists from around the world, with a large majority of US-Americans, gathered in front of the ocean to discuss about: large-scale resources, advances in genome manipulation, stem cells and development, human disease animal models, comparative genomics, population genetics & evolution, and aging and adult-onset disease modeling. The local organizers, Ron Korstanje and Karen Svenson, from JAX, along with IMGS officers David Beier, David Threadgill, Teresa Gunn and the rest of IMGS Secretariat, must be praised for an excellent meeting, with a great variety of topics presented, in mouse genetics and mouse genomics resources and their applications, including 89 Posters, 16 student presentations and 57 short talks. As usual, most of the IMGC speakers were selected from submitted abstracts. The scientific program was completed with two most interesting keynote addresses by Jeanne Lawrence (Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School – UMMS) and Bruce Beutler (Regental Professor and Director of the Center for Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas), Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology or Medicine in 2011, for “their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity“, who delivered a very moving Chapman lecture on his past and current research.

Lobster from Maine for the IMGC conference dinner
Lobster from Maine for the IMGC conference dinner

The conference dinner was an opportunity to enjoy one of the gems of Maine, their famous Lobster!. During the conference dinner the IMGS Officers and all participants wholeheartedly thanked and awarded Darla Miller for her more than 25 years of dedicated hard work running the IMGS Society. The 28th IMGC was also innovative since it was transmitted and commented, live, through twitter, under the hashtag #IMGC14. This initiative was launched by Steven Munger and followed by many other participants, who tweeted and re-tweeted the highlights of the 28th IMGC.The IMGC was also attended by several ISTT members, including Thom Saunders, Jean Jaubert, Fernando Benavides, Radislav Sedlacek and Lluis Montoliu. In Bar Harbor it was introduced the next 29th IMGC, IMGC-2015, which will be organized by Piero Carninci (RIKEN) in Yokohama (Japan) on 8-11 November 2015.

Mouse Genomic Informatics (MGI) celebrated 25 years in 2014
Mouse Genomic Informatics (MGI) celebrated 25 years in 2014

Immediately after the 28th IMGC, a good number of participants extended their stay in Bar Harbor to attend the 25th anniversary of Mouse Genomic Informatics (MGI), at JAX, on 3oth November 2014. This festive event filled the JAX auditorium with MGI developers and MGI users, with the latter thanking extensively the former for their work, for their tireless efforts through all these years, for making them happier daily at work, and for preparing and offering, in an organized and orderly manner, the enormous amount of genetic, genomic and phenotypic information on thousands of mouse strains and all what is known about the mouse genes. This memorable half-day symposium, nicely organized by Janan Eppig, included very interesting talks by Linda Siracusa, Ken Paigen and Maja Bucan, who highlighted the most relevant role of MGI in their research projects. The MGI-25 years day ended, for some of us, with an unforgettable and almost private visit at the beautiful Acadia National Park, generously provided by MGI, and finished with the corresponding commemorative cake. In all respects, a fantastic week in Autumn in Bar Harbor.

Janan T. Eppig about to cut the MGI-25 years cake
Janan T. Eppig about to cut the MGI-25 years cake

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

Laboratory Course on Cryopreservation of Mouse Germplasm, Monterotondo, Italy, 20-24 October 2014

Laboratory Course on Cryopreservation of Mouse Germplasm, Monterotondo, Italy, 20-24 October 2014
Laboratory Course on Cryopreservation of Mouse Germplasm, Monterotondo, Italy, 20-24 October 2014

The Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), EMMA-Monterotondo Campus International Development and The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) offer a comprehensive course on cryopreservation of mouse embryos, sperm and ovaries. This Course is financially supported by the European Union FP7 Capacities Specific Program, through the Infrafrontier-I3. The 2014 Edition of this traditional annual cryopreservation EMMA-JAX course is planned for 20-24 October 2014, organized by ISTT Member Marcello Raspa and his collaborators at CNR-EMMA Campus and with the participation of various faculty members, including Robert Taft and Jane Farley, from JAX; Ferdinando Scavizzi and Raffaele Matteoni, from CNR; Susan Marschall, from Munich; Martin Fray, from Harwell; Lluis Montoliu, from Madrid; and Kent Lloyd, from UC Davis, USA.

The 2014 edition of this course will be organized in memory of Stanley P. Leibo – Course leader 1999-2013.

The course is offered to teach methods in cryopreservation for banking of various strains of mice used in research, including inbred, transgenic and knock-out strains. Several methods of cryopreservation are now available and because no single method is adequate for all the various strains of mice being developed, a variety of methods are taught. The course is designed primarily as a “hands-on” laboratory program in which participants learn techniques for the cryopreservation of cleavage-stage embryos, spermatozoa and ovaries. Techniques include: embryo “two-step” equilibrium freezing in plastic straws, embryo non-equilibrium “ultra-rapid” cooling or “vitrification” in straws and sperm freezing and recovery of frozen sperm by in vitro fertilization. In addition, general principles of cryobiology, development of inventory databases for individual programs, and adaptation of long-term storage systems and cryogenic equipment for different situations will be presented and discussed.

Enrollment is limited to 10 participants and early application is advised. This Course is financially supported by the EU FP7 Capacities Specific Program, through the Infrafrontier-I3.

Course Fees (Fees do not include participant’s travel and lodging):

European Union’s and Associated Countries’ nationals:

  • Academic or Non-Profit Institutions: Euro 400.00
  • Other Institutions: Euro 950.00

Other Countries’ nationals:

  • Academic or Non-Profit Institutions: Euro 900.00
  • Other Institutions: Euro 1,200.00

Deadline for applications: September 10, 2014
Download here the Course application form

Course information:
Marcello Raspa, Ferdinando Scavizzi, Raffaele Matteoni
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
EMMA-Monterotondo Campus International Development
INFRAFRONTIER I3
e-mail: mraspa@emma.cnr.it

Course secretariat:
Giuliana Boera, Teresa Cuccurullo
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
EMMA-Monterotondo Campus International Development
INFRAFRONTIER I3
e-mail: cuccurullo@ibc.cnr.it

In memoriam: Stanley Leibo

Stanley Leibo in Rome, October 2013, at the official dinner of the annual EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course in Monterotondo, Italy (Photograph kindly provided by Jane Farley)
Stanley Leibo in Rome, October 2013, at the official dinner of the annual EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course in Monterotondo, Italy (Photograph kindly provided by Jane Farley)

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Stanley Leibo, who died this morning, March 25, in the USA. Stanley Leibo was Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of New Orleans, LA, USA. On behalf of the ISTT, we wish to offer our most sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Stanley Leibo was a renowned authority in cryobiology and one of the pioneers in the cryopreservation of mammalian germplasm. His seminal publication in Science in 1972, in collaboration with Peter Mazur and David Whittingham, described the first, successful cryopreservation of mammalian embryos, demonstrating the recovery of live pups from mouse embryos that had been stored in liquid nitrogen and liquid helium. His scientific work laid the foundation for the current widespread use of cryopreservation by human fertility clinics, agriculture, scientific resource repositories, and conservation efforts preserving endangered species. In addition to his outstanding scientific contributions, Stanley Leibo will be remembered for the joy and passion he brought to teaching. He was a fixture from the beginning in the Jackson Laboratory’s Cryopreservation Course, offered both in Bar Harbor and later also in partnership with EMMA in Monterotondo, Italy, where over the years hundreds of students, including many ISTT members, had the pleasure of hearing his enthusiastic lectures on the history, theory and practice of cryopreserving mammalian cells and germplasm.

Stanley Leibo was a mentor for many of us, a colleague, and most of all, also a friend. We will not forget him. May he rest in peace.

ISTT council

P.S. Additional information from Stanley Leibo’s career and achievements can be obtained from this document, published in Reproduction, Fertiliy and Development, when he received the 2009 IETS Pioneer Award

Stanley Leibo with Marcello Raspa, in Monterotondo, November 2009, at the 10th anniversary of the EMMA-JAX annual cryopreservation course (Photograph by Lluis Montoliu).
Stanley Leibo with Marcello Raspa, in Monterotondo, November 2009, at the 10th anniversary of the EMMA-JAX annual cryopreservation course (Photograph by Lluis Montoliu).
Stanley Leibo with Martin Fray, at the 10th annual EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course in Monterotondo, Rome, Italy, in November 2009 (Photograph by Lluis Montoliu)
Stanley Leibo with Martin Fray, at the 10th annual EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course in Monterotondo, Rome, Italy, in November 2009 (Photograph by Lluis Montoliu)
Stanley Leibo's handwriting and drawings illustrating his passion for teaching. These were made on the paper tablecloth by himself, while explaining several concepts in cryobiology to other colleagues, during the official dinner of the last annual EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course, held in October 2013, in a restaurant in Rome (Photograph by Lluis Montoliu)
Stanley Leibo’s handwriting and drawings illustrating his passion for teaching. These were made on the paper tablecloth by himself, while explaining several concepts in cryobiology to other colleagues, during the official dinner of the last annual EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course, held in October 2013, in a restaurant in Rome (Photograph by Lluis Montoliu).
Stanley Leibo's lecture at the 50th anniversary of the Society for Cryobiology's Annual Meeting, in Washington, DC, USA, in July 2013. http://www.societyforcryobiology.org/cryo-2013
Stanley Leibo’s lecture at the 50th anniversary of the Society for Cryobiology’s Annual Meeting, in Washington, DC, USA, in July 2013. http://www.societyforcryobiology.org/cryo-2013

2011 Cryopreservation Course EMMA-JAX, Monterotondo, Italy, October 17-21

2011 Cryopreservation Course EMMA-JAX, Monterotondo, Italy, October 17-21
2011 Cryopreservation Course EMMA-JAX, Monterotondo, Italy, October 17-21

The Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – “A. Buzzati-Traverso” Campus and The Jackson Laboratory offer the 2011 edition of a comprehensive course on cryopreservation of mouse embryos, sperm and ovaries. This Cryopreservation Course is financially supported by the EU FP7 Capacities Specific Program, through the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA). The Course will be held in Monterotondo, Italy, on October 17-21, 2011.

The course is offered to teach methods in cryopreservation for banking of various strains of mice used in research, including inbred, transgenic and knock-out strains. Several methods of cryopreservation are now available and because no single method is adequate for all the various strains of mice being developed, a variety of methods are taught. The course is designed primarily as a “hands-on” laboratory program in which participants learn techniques for the cryopreservation of cleavage-stage embryos, spermatozoa and ovaries.

Course faculties include: Stanley P. Leibo, Robert Taft, Jane Farley, Sian Clements, Marcello Raspa, Ferdinando Scavizzi, Raffaele Matteoni, Susan Marschall, Martin Fray and K.C. Kent Lloyd. Enrollment is limited to 10 participants and early application is advised. Deadline for applications: September 20, 2011.

Flyer with information about the 2011 EMMA-JAX Cryopreservation Course

Application form

Course Information email address: cryocourse@ibc.cnr.it

ISTT and Transgenic Research jointly promote the use of standard nomenclature

Examples of use of standard nomenclature [see Montoliu & Whitelaw (2010) for a full descrption]
Examples of use of standard nomenclature: see Montoliu & Whitelaw (2010) for a full descrption
The International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT) and the scientific journal, Transgenic Research, to which the ISTT is associated, have decided to promote the use of standard nomenclature for naming mouse strains, genes, mutations and alleles. In this regard, and according to ISTT aims and activities, ISTT will disseminate in its web site, blog, newsletter and Transgenic Technology (TT) meetings, information and recommendations regarding how to use standard nomenclature. Likewise, the correct use of rules and guidelines for standard nomenclature for naming mouse strains, genes, mutations and alleles will be enforced in subsequent articles submitted to Transgenic Research for publication, as it is already done in several other journals.

Joint Position Article (ISTT and Transgenic Research):

Montoliu Lluis & Whitelaw C. Bruce A. (2010) Using standard nomenclature to adequately name transgenes, knockout gene alleles and any mutation associated to a genetically modified mouse strain. Transgenic Research (ePub, 16 July 2010) [this article has been made freely available by Springer]

EMMA-JAX cryocourse 2010

EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course 2010
EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course 2010

The Istituto di Biologia Cellulare of Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche-“A. Buzzati-Traverso” Campus and The Jackson Laboratory offer a comprehensive course on cryopreservation of mouse embryos, sperm and ovaries. This Course is financially supported by the EU FP7 Capacities Specific Program, through the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA). The course will be held at the “A. Buzzatti-Traverso” Campus, in Monterotondo, Rome, Italy on October 25-29, 2010.

The course is offered to teach methods in cryopreservation for banking of various strains of mice used in research, including inbred, transgenic and knock-out strains. Several methods of cryopreservation are now available and because no single method is adequate for all the various strains of mice being developed, a variety of methods are taught. The course is designed primarily as a “hands-on” laboratory program in which participants learn techniques for the cryopreservation of cleavage-stage embryos, spermatozoa and ovaries.

Additional information about this EMMA-JAX Cryocourse 2010

Application form

Deadline for submitting applications: September 25, 2010

10th Anniversary EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course

10th anniversary EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course (Marcello Raspa, left, and Stanley Leybo)
10th anniversary EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course (Marcello Raspa, left, and Stanley Leybo)

The 10th anniversary EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course has been held in Monterotondo-Rome (Italy), at the IBC-CNR “A. Buzzati-Traverso” Campus, on November 23-26, 2009. ISTT has supported this course, according to the cooperation agreement signed with EMMA, and hence, the Society was presented to all participants and teachers. Ten participants were selected among all applications received and could learn about mouse embryo and sperm cryopreservation, among other related topics. They practised state-of-the-art techniques about how to cryopreserve mouse sperm, how to do an in vitro fertilization, how to obtain and cryopreserve 2-cell IVF-derived mouse embryos and how to do vitrification. In these ten editions since 1999, more than hundred participants have attended these annual cryopreservation courses, thus contributing to the successful spreading of these techniques among many laboratories from many countries around the world.

IBC-CNR, EMMA and JAX logos
IBC-CNR, EMMA and JAX logos

The faculties for this course were Stanley Leibo (Univ. New Orleans, LA, USA), as Course Director; Robert Taft (The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME, USA); Jorge Sztein (NIAID-NIH, Rockwille, MD, USA), Kent Lloyd (Univ. California, Davis, CA, USA), Martin Fray (MRC-MGU, Harwell, Didcot, UK), Susan Marschall (IEG, Munich, Germany); Lluis Montoliu (CNB-CSIC, Madrid, Spain); and Raffaele Matteoni, Ferdinando Scavizzi and Marcello Raspa, from IBC-CNR-EMMA, Monterotondo, Italy. The instructors included Jane Farley and Sian Clemmens, from The Jackson Laboratory, and Arsenio Armagno, Daniele Iannilli, Tiziana La Penna, Ilaria Losso and the rest of cryopreservation support personnel from IBC-CNR-EMMA, Monterotondo, Italy.

10th anniversary EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course
10th anniversary EMMA-JAX cryopreservation course