Frozen tissues and other cryogenically-preserved materials housed in Genomic Resources are associated with voucher specimens archived in the Mammalogy, Ornithology, Ichthyology, Entomology, and Earth Science Departments. Collection holdings can be searched on Arctos, a Collaborative Collection Management Solution. Qualified researchers may request limited grants of tissue from UAM. Use of these samples depletes them. Guidelines for requesting tissue grants have been developed to ensure both short- and long-term availability and integrity of these irreplaceable resources. Tissue grants are intended to supplement material previously obtained through collecting and/or loans from other museums, not to provide all the samples necessary for any project.
Granted material MUST be cited by UAM catalog number in GenBank records and all resulting publications; the University of Alaska Museum should be acknowledged in publications (as any other granting institution would); and reprints (electronic copies OK) should be provided to the Genomic Resources Collection Manager (Mallory Gulbranson) and the appropriate curator at the time of publication. Failure to do so may result in the denial of future tissue grants to you or your institution. Citing UAM specimens by catalog number allows us to track the use and utility of our collection, which is essential to financing curation. Such documentation also allows for the repeatability of research, a fundamental tenet of the scientific method.
Genomic Resources houses one of the largest collections of its kind in the world, with more than 180,000 individual tissue samples from approximately 85,000 specimens. The tissue collection is stored in ultracold freezers at -70°C (-94°F) and in liquid nitrogen-cooled cryovats at -170°C (-274°F). Tissue samples are stored in 1.2-1.8 ml cryovials within 81- or 100-position freezer boxes each stored in 13-box freezer racks. The location of each sample is tracked electronically and/or via barcodes such that every box can be filled to capacity and samples retrieved efficiently.
Access to Genomic Resources is strictly limited to those people who have been trained in the proper handling of frozen tissue samples and the liquid nitrogen production and storage equipment. This ensures the safety of the staff and the integrity of the collection.
Each freezer and cryovat will alarm locally if its temperature increases beyond an acceptable level (-60°C/-76ºF for freezers, -140°C/-220ºF for cryovats). When the freezers go into alarm they also alert the university's 24-hour dispatch center. Dispatch personnel then call a list of contacts, starting with the Genomic Resources Coordinator, until someone has been reached to respond to the alarm (the cryovats do not alarm remotely). The liquid nitrogen-cooled cryovats will maintain a temperature below -140°C (-220ºF) for up to 4 weeks without a resupply of liquid nitrogen. In contrast, the ultracold freezers can warm up to 0°C (32ºF) within 24-48 hours without power or after a malfunction.