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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 20, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 8
Collaboration Improves Researchers' Access to JHU Biologic Materials

By Joanna Downer
Johns Hopkins Medicine

In an unusual collaboration, Johns Hopkins and the nonprofit American Type Culture Collection have established the Johns Hopkins Special Collection, an ever-expanding set of biological materials developed at Johns Hopkins that will now be more readily available to researchers worldwide through ATCC.

The research materials offered through the special collection include cell lines (such as rat prostate cancer and lung cells from a person with cystic fibrosis), clones of important human genes and "kits" that simplify creation of viruses carrying genetic instructions.

"This collaboration disseminates, publicizes and safeguards our faculty's research materials through a highly regulated channel," said William Tew, associate provost and assistant dean of licensing and technology development at Johns Hopkins. "Our scientists can more easily share important research materials, and ATCC strengthens their product listings. Scientists worldwide stand to benefit from these efforts."

Once a new potential product, such as a cell line or key bit of DNA, is described in peer-reviewed scientific literature and a few outside scientists have requested the item, it will be eligible for inclusion in the special collection. ATCC, a leading source of biologic research materials since 1925, provides secure maintenance of the materials, promotes their availability, protects intellectual property rights and documents compliance with regulations regarding the shipping of materials.

"Our expertise in all aspects of materials management provides global access to materials developed by Johns Hopkins researchers," said Raymond Cypess, president and chief executive officer of ATCC. "The Johns Hopkins Special Collection offers scientists access to important biological reagents efficiently, promptly and safely."

Currently consisting of 68 items, the Hopkins collection will expand as appropriate new materials are identified. ATCC is a nonprofit bioscience organization that stores, retrieves and distributes biological materials to support the research efforts of scientists in government, academia and the private sector.

"Academic researchers are required to provide materials they create with federal funds to other scientists, and they are happy to do so," Tew said. "But it can become a full-time job--preparing the material in sufficient quantities, readying it for distribution and sending it according to federal, state and local laws, not to mention institutional requirements on both the sending and receiving ends. ATCC is built to do just those things very efficiently."

For more on the Johns Hopkins Special Collection, go to


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