Use and Care of the Collections

1. Intramural AMNH Visitors to the AMCC

Due to safety and regulatory considerations, the AMCC is a restricted access, bio-safety level two facility (BSL II). Unassisted access to the collection is not permitted. Trained staff must accompany visitors at all times. Please request access in advance of a proposed visit.

2. Extramural AMNH Visitors to the AMCC

Visitors will not normally be allowed access to the collections, and will normally be granted access to the reception area outside of the collection space only between the hours of 9:00am to 5:00pm, Mondays through Fridays. Visitors are expected to comply with instructions given by the lab staff pertaining to the operational policies of the lab, including the use of personal protective equipment. In the event that more extensive access is required, the approval of the Curator-in-Charge and/or the Provost's Office must be obtained.

3. Extramural Consumptive Sampling of AMCC specimens

The AMCC recognizes its obligation to balance the current needs of research and educational users of the collections with its responsibility to ensure the availability of material for future use.

The AMCC obtains and distributes research materials in furtherance of its scientific objectives. Loans of tissues are made to institutions, not to individuals, and shall be limited to research and educational organizations. They are not to be transferred from one institution to another without the written permission of the Curator-in-Charge, which must be obtained in advance.

Requests for consumptive sampling of material from the AMCC shall be made in writing on institutional letterhead in a format acceptable to the Curator-in-Charge. In the case of material that is to be used by graduate students, the student's academic advisor, who shall be responsible for the terms and conditions of the loan, must make the loan request. Each request shall include, inter alia, the following information:

  1. The purpose of the proposed research and its scientific merit.
  2. The total number of specimens to be used in the project and what proportion are being requested from AMNH, including the amount of tissue required.
  3. The experimental protocol to be employed.
  4. Evidence of the researcher's competence with the protocol.
  5. A timeframe for completion of the proposed research.
  6. Plans for the dissemination of knowledge gained from the proposed research, including availability of sequence data.
  7. A signed Material Transfer Agreement.

Further, to be approved each request shall be evaluated by an inter-divisional curatorial review committee against the following criteria:

  1. The research is of sufficient scientific merit to justify consumptive sampling.
  2. Adequate justification has been given for the use of museum material.
  3. The taxon concerned is amply represented in the collection.
  4. The protocol will not significantly compromise future use of the specimen.
  5. The possibility of the Museum receiving an exchange of other materials from the researcher or institution in situations where the specimen is to be completely consumed.
  6. The researcher's experience and resources, including the availability of relevant specimens at the requesting institution, to carry out the study without sacrificing all the available material of a particular collecting event or compromising the future utility of the specimen for other investigations.
  7. Evidence that the researcher is contributing to the general availability of genetic resources to the scientific research community.
  8. Restrictions placed on material distribution. Notification and/or approval of the original collector of the tissue sample could be involved.
  9. Return to the Museum of unused portions of specimens and DNA extractions, if so required.
  10. What, if any, resulting analytical data and duplicates of tangible products shall be provided to the Museum to become part of the specimen's permanent record, and the date of deposit.
  11. Ownership of the products of research shall be addressed, where required.
  12. What, if any, period of confidentiality the researcher may receive during which the data may not be made available by the Museum to others.
  13. The ability of the researcher or his or her institution to cover all costs associated with the sample shipping, potentially including curatorial and collections management time in handling the request.
  14. That the Museum (and possibly others) shall receive credit in publications and databases for providing samples to the researcher and shall receive copies of all publications and notices of database deposits.
  15. That all publications involving AMNH material must cite the AMNH voucher number (or numbers). If the sample's voucher specimen has a primary catalog number, then it should be referred to, otherwise the Monell number should be cited, or both.

A signed Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), which is a legal instrument binding the would-be researcher to the terms established for use of the genetic material is required by AMNH. Each loan transaction must be covered by a written MTA. Specimens will not be dispatched until the researcher and/or an individual with authority to sign on behalf of the investigator's home institution have countersigned the MTA and submitted it to AMNH in support of the applicant's proposal. Thus, the frozen tissue collection does not loan samples to an individual, but to the institution that represents the researcher requesting them.

The Museum shall receive credit in publications and databases for data obtained from specimens loaned and shall receive two copies of all publications and notice of all database deposits, in writing. Again, the Museum requires citation of AMNH catalog numbers in all publications involving data derived from AMNH specimens. The material transfer agreement limits the use of loaned genetic material to the terms of the researcher's original written request, defining the scope of the material to be sampled, methods of evaluation, standards for processing and documentation, timeframe for publication and any other appropriate terms and conditions. It is imperative that the researcher be aware of the laws in his/her own country and to abide by them when requesting tissues from AMNH. The Museum further reserves the right to revise the MTA, making additional stipulations as necessary.

The purpose of the MTA is to protect the AMNH from liability and to place responsibility on the researcher's home institution for said researcher's compliance with all applicable state and federal laws. The Museum requires that anyone borrowing tissues agree not to patent, or otherwise seek to profit from the proposed research, which could compromise the original AMNH collecting agreement with the foreign country where the specimens originated, or any other entity which may have donated material to the collection. The Monell facility tracks restrictions on material usage for this reason. Ultimately, the signed MTA will be retained by the Monell collection and become part of the facility records pertaining to each loan made.

4. Intramural Consumptive Sampling of AMCC specimens

Tissue depositors shall have preferential access to the samples that they deposit. The ability to restrict access to the material by others is available via the proposal review process. AMNH staff and original depositors of the tissue are not required to submit a written proposal to access materials they deposit. However they must sign a Letter of Transmittal documenting receipt of their specimens from the frozen tissue collection. Tracking specimens internally establishes researcher priority and is essential for proper collection management.

All other intramural users are subject to an evaluation procedure for the approval of research requests. Approval of the relevant Curator-in-Charge shall be required. In addition, if the material originates from the collecting efforts of another department within AMNH, then permission from the relevant Divisional Chairperson shall also be required. Acceptance of samples must include signing a Letter of Transmittal, which includes and/or stipulates:

  1. A description of the material.
  2. The conditions under which the sample should be kept.
  3. Stipulation that the material may not be transferred to a third party, within or without the Museum, without the approval of the Curator-in-Charge

5. AMCC Oversight Committee

The AMCC Oversight Committee will:

  1. prepare and/or review periodic reports to their respective divisions on progress of the collection.
  2. advise the Curator-in-Charge and staff of the Monell collection on issues pertinent to their divisions.
  3. provide consultation on other matters of relevance to the Monell collection as they arise.

Care of the Collections

All staff (whether compensated or uncompensated) that work on specimens in the AMCC have a duty of care towards the specimens on which they work. In compliance with the Trustee Collection Policy, the staff of the AMCC will maintain and enforce an approved conservation plan and safety plan.