Executor of the Research Estate

Jul 24 2012 Published by under Lab

Our lab maintains the cell culture archives of another PI who unexpectedly passed away years ago.  These cell lines and other samples have proven valuable to many researchers over the years but honestly its a pain in the ass to curate and deal with requests.  Typically, an email pops up in my boss's inbox requesting cell line x from patient with condition y.  Boss forwards me asking if we have this? And we better have this because it was on the inventory of lines that was last done about a decade ago.  Not to mention the inventory and archiving was less than meticulously done.  This means I'm digging through tons of boxes in our liquid nitrogen stocks reading faded and illegible writing or worse labels that are in various states of disrepair or falling off.  Then I've got to culture them and find some way (western blots, genotyping, etc) that they are what they are and make freeze backs before sending them out the door.

As much as this last step is a pain in the ass I respect my boss for doing it, because I don't know how many times we have been shipped lines that were the wrong mutants or were supposed to be mycoplasma negative but are teeming with the little creatures.  And then off they go.

Do you folks safeguard others samples and dole them out to whoever wants them?  And for PI's do you have a plan for what happens to your stuff if you somehow end up kicking the bucket?

12 responses so far

  • drugmonkey says:

    It is insane that this is not fobbed off on a for-profit company. What a waste of time.

  • biochembelle says:

    Why not deposit the lines w ATCC?

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    Honestly, I have no clue why they haven't put them with someone like ATCC.

  • Heavy says:

    Happened around here recently. We shipped them all off to one of the deceased PI's former grad student who was delighted to receive them.

  • BugDoc says:

    "I don't know how many times we have been shipped lines that were the wrong mutants or were supposed to be mycoplasma negative but are teeming with the little creatures."

    THIS! I have honestly wondered whether anyone else in the world tests for mycoplasma. We test everything that is given to us (as well as periodically testing our own cell lines) and I would say that about 60% of the lines we are given are Myco+.

    • Genomic Repairman says:

      I too share your paranoia for mycoplasma. Our lab is very diligent about this. We are also fanatics about STR fingerprinting our cell lines in the lab to. Don't know how many times we have been sent "special" cell lines that turned out to be HeLa.

  • chall says:

    We had to keep updated logs on our -80C bacterial/cell stocks for this exact reason. As for the cell stocks, slightly different now since I'm in a GMP compliant place where nothing comes in without being mycotested, and nothing goes in the freezers before being mycotested - so we don't test it before we ship out from our cell banks. Old lab, we did some tests but mainly "restriction enzyme" to varify the cell lines.... no more HeLa cells posing as "special cell line".

    It might be worth having someone re-catalogue the freezer and do an inventory on how many tubes/samples there are? That said, it is a probably a time sink on the front end

    • Genomic Repairman says:

      I smell a project for a rotation student???

      • chall says:

        ah the joy of having a "person allocated to do inventory".... I think it would work, maybe even if they were set to "expand/make extra vials of cell cultures you're low on". That way, they'd get experience with working with cells banks. that is of course, if you trust (key word) them to do cell work, otherwise "just cataloging and inventory" will probalby tkae plenty time on its own 🙂

  • darchole says:

    But, but, it's just so much fun when you get something that's been passed around for years and you find it contaminated with just not what it's supposed to be.

    • darchole says:

      with should be or ...missed that when thinking about it and doing imaginary hair pulling about the situation.

  • [...] research, I’ve found that I’m not the first person to ponder this. Just last month, the Genomic Repairman wrote on the same issue. While I readily confess to not understanding very much of what he was [...]

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