Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Manhattan Model Organism Project

Premium

In a small, newly refurbished laboratory in the bowels of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, six shining new stainless steel drums the size of beer-brewing vats sit ready for loading. The cryogenic tanks will eventually contain a repository of nonhuman genomes — one of the biggest frozen tissue collections in the world.

The museum’s bank will likely not outsize those at the American Type Culture Collection and the Centers for Disease Control. But what will set this liquid-nitrogenized collection apart will be a stock of living communities of organisms, such as a bacterial ecosystem retrieved from a pond in Illinois. That sample and some 30,000 others are now being prepared for storage in tubes arranged inside the vats in three-dimensional grids tracked in a database linked to GenBank.

The museum expects the collection, which is being funded with a grant from NASA’s astrobiology program, to have fulfilled its one-million-sample capacity within 10 years. Rob DeSalle, codirector of AMNH’s molecular laboratories, says, “People are beating down our door to put things in there.”

DeSalle notes that the bank, which is expected to begin accepting deposits and making loans to researchers by the end of this month, will serve the private as well as the public sector — a first for the nonprofit institute.

That’s not to say the museum is ignoring its mandate to educate the public about scientific breakthroughs: “The Genomic Revolution,” which is being touted as “the most comprehensive genomics exhibit ever,” will be unveiled at AMNH on May 26.

— Adrienne Burke

The Scan

Expanded Genetic Testing Uncovers Hereditary Cancer Risk in Significant Subset of Cancer Patients

In Genome Medicine, researchers found pathogenic or likely pathogenic hereditary cancer risk variants in close to 17 percent of the 17,523 patients profiled with expanded germline genetic testing.

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Embryos Appear Largely Normal in Single-Cell 'Omics Analyses

Embryos produced with spindle transfer-based mitochondrial replacement had delayed demethylation, but typical aneuploidy and transcriptome features in a PLOS Biology study.

Cancer Patients Report Quality of Life Benefits for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy was linked in JAMA Network Open to enhanced quality of life compared to other treatment types in cancer patients.

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.