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Tissue Grant Policy & Procedures

Herpetology & Ichthyology

The Herpetology Collections of the TNHC consist of fluid-preserved amphibians and reptiles, as well as osteological specimens and preserved tissues and tissue extracts. The Ichthyology Collections are in the beginning stages of starting a tissue collection. The TNHC is a centralized repository, and we encourage its use by the international, non profit, research community. This document describes procedures for requesting DNA/tissue samples from TNHC.

Rationale of the TNHC Tissue Grant Policy

The policy governing the use of TNHC tissues is intended to provide fair access to the collection. It is based on the following:

The TNHC Genetic Resources consists mainly of material assembled by TNHC and/or University of Texas researchers for support of specific projects. In general, this material is intended for use by these researchers and their collaborators, although we commonly grant use of these tissues to other researchers. Certain donated specimens are for general community use, except when restricted by the donor.

Tissue samples are an expendable resource; tissue loans are termed “grants” because of their consumable nature. Thus, requests are evaluated depending on the amount of tissue requested and the intended use.

Grantees are expected to publish the results of research using TNHC tissues and deposit sequences derived from the tissues in genetic databanks.

Tracking the use of tissue samples that are loaned documents the usefulness of this material, and therefore is important for obtaining further funding for research projects that make these samples available. Reporting the use of the material also fulfills permit requirements.

Donated tissues must be accompanied by either a museum invoice or copies of appropriate permits (e.g., U.S. collecting permit or a country-of-origin export permit). Tissues without voucher specimens and collection data have limited value, because there is no way to verify identification or perform complementary studies in anatomy, geographic variation, etc.

The TNSC and TNHC operate in strict accordance with all relevant laws, and regulations regarding the transport of such material.

TNHC Tissue Grant Policy

  1. Grants are given only to researchers who agree to the following requests or obligations, as described in the Letter of Agreement.
  2. Tissues are granted for a specific project, not for unrestricted use.
  3. The approval of a tissue grant may depend upon volume of tissue requested and rarity of taxon.
  4. Grantees who have failed to publish results and deposit sequences in genetic databanks may be denied future grants of material.
  5. Depending on the nature and size of the request, the grantee may be asked to bear the shipping costs. For large requests, the grantee may be asked to supply labeled tubes. These conditions will be indicated in the Letter of Agreement.
  6. If approved, the grant will be processed upon receipt of the Letter of Agreement.
  7. Grants will be denied to researchers (and their students) who have not made good use of samples in the past or who have not fulfilled grant requirements.

Procedures for Requesting TNHC Tissues

Specific samples are requested in writing on institutional letterhead from the Curator of Herpetology, David C. Cannatella. Graduate students should submit a letter co-signed by their advisor, who is equally responsible for the samples. If the tissue request is approved, a Letter of Agreement will be mailed to the researcher. The request will be processed upon receipt of the Agreement and in order of receipt in relation to other approved loans, with the caveat that in-house tissue requests receive priority.

A tissue request should provide the following information:

  1. A brief outline of the goals, methods, and time frame of the project, justifying the use of the samples. If your project is supported by grant money, please provide source and title of project. What steps have already been made to initiate this project?
  2. A list of the TNHC specimens by taxon and locality (or catalog number, if known). Please specify the amount of tissue/extract required and preferred preservation for shipment (e.g., frozen on dry ice, suspended in 95% EtOH, or in DMSO buffer).
  3. The total number of tissues to be used in the project, in addition to TNHC contribution. Please specify the number of tissues per taxon that will be collected by the researcher, or requested from other institutions. Indicate current status of acquisition of required specimens.
  4. Indicate how you prefer your shipment to be sent. To avoid potential complications via the USPS irradiation policies (although little mail is currently being irradiated, there is the risk that any USPS shipment could be irradiated), we will be shipping via DHL or Federal Express. If another carrier is preferred, please include name and a current account number.
  5. Copy of CITES institutional permit (if necessary).
  6. Contact information: mailing address, phone and fax numbers, and email address.

A committee that consists of David Cannatella, Travis LaDuc, and Edward Theriot will evaluate the tissue request. If the tissues have been donated to the Collection by a non-TNHC/UT researcher who wishes to be involved in tissue grant decisions, we will obtain his/her opinion.

Questions about the Tissue Grant Policy should be directed to the Curator of Herpetology, David C. Cannatella.