Sharing Cryopreserved Samples Between Institutions

GEMM helps researchers share genetically modified mice for their research programs with other institutions.  We routinely import and export cryopreserved embryos and sperm.

 Importation of cryopreserved samples:

If you would like to import cryopreserved samples for rederivation, we will help you do this. The general steps in this process are as follows:

  • Submit a rederivation request in iLabs.  Wherever possible, add details about where the cryopreserved samples are coming from and how we can connect with the donating institution.
  • Request health reports from the donating institution for the rooms where the animals were housed when cryopreservation occurred.  These health reports will be shared with the veterinarians for their review and approval prior to importation of samples.  Typically, we initiate this request, however, if you are working closely with a collaborator you know well, sometimes this request goes faster if we ask for their help securing these reports.  Let’s just be certain to communicate often to avoid repeat requests. 
  • Complete an MTA, if required.  This is your responsibility.
  • Learn more about the samples and the strain.  For the new strain, we will want to know the background strain, the health and monitoring needs, and the genotyping assay used In addition, any information about the reproductive performance of the strain as well as the anticipated genotypes of rederived mice would be extremely helpful. The donating institution will also be asked to provide details about the samples themselves (fertilization rate, embryo stage, the cryopreservation protocol they used and provide a recommended thawing protocol, etc.)  Depending upon how well you know the donating source, you may want to ask these questions or you may ask us to do this.
  • Add the strain to your IACUC protocol.  Your IACUC protocol and our IACUC protocol must have the strain added to them.  Our core facility has its own IACUC protocol that covers all procedures and animal numbers we will need to perform to generate live animals for you.  You will want to add the strain to your protocol as if you are receiving them from a vendor, only calculating animal numbers for breeding and experiments and only including procedures that YOUR lab will perform.
  • Connect GEMM staff with your collaborators and their import/export coordinator (often within the transgenic core facility, not in the vivarium).  Shipment of samples should be directly to GEMM, so we will work with your collaborators to coordinate the details and timing of the shipment. Please do NOT plan to import samples until the health reports have been reviewed and approved for importation.  Ultimately, you will be responsible for any shipping fees but we find that each institution has their own workflow in place.  Sometimes they prefer to pay the transport fees and charge you (or us) after the fact.  In other situations, they ask you (or us) to coordinate and pay for the shipment directly.  We will work with them to make this process as seamless as possible.
  • Once samples arrive, we will take it from there!  We will notify you when the embryo transfer occurs and when genotyping results are available.  Then, we will work with you to transfer the strain to your room.

Exportation of cryopreserved samples

If you would like to export cryopreserved samples to other institutions, we will help you do this.  These are the general steps to this process:

  • Strain information and cryopreserved sample type.  Help us by identifying the strain you want us to ship out and what exactly you would like to send (cryopreserved mouse embryos/sperm, number of aliquots, etc).  Start by reaching out to us. We will pull information from our database as well as the university database for the transgenic facility that supported this campus through 2020 and let you know your sample inventory.  Once we have a better idea of what you have in cryostorage, we can discuss and decide what you want to share.
  • Request an MTA, if desired.  We highly recommend that if you intend to require an MTA for the transfer, that the MTA is executed before we ship cryopreserved germplasm.
  • Determine what the receiving institution needs prior to shipment.  From you, as the donating investigator, they might want genotyping assays or breeding performance/health and welfare concerns to add the strain to their IACUC protocol and to anticipate what care the new strain might need.  From us, they may want us to share the cryopreservation protocol that we used and our recommended thawing protocol.  They may ask for the genotype of the germplasm.
  • Identify the shipping contact at the receiving institution.  While we are happy to advise throughout, we request that the receiving institution coordinate and directly pay the courier they use for the shipment.  This enables them to choose the courier of their choice, to readily track the shipment, and it will also ensure that if a dry shipper was rented from the courier, that they know how and when to return it. 



Jennifer Matsuda, PhD
Director, GEMM

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