NIH News Release
National Institute of
General Medical Sciences

Friday, September 17, 1999
Contact: Susan Athey
(301) 496-7301

NIGMS Awards Contract to Continue Operating Cell Repository

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has awarded a new contract to the Coriell Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) to continue operating the Human Genetic Cell Repository. The 5-year, $13 million contract will enable CIMR to collect, characterize, maintain, and distribute cell lines with special characteristics, as well as DNA samples isolated from these cell lines.

The repository contains cell lines derived from blood or skin samples from people with a wide range of genetic abnormalities as well as from unaffected family members. The cell lines are tested to be sure they are free of contamination from microorganisms and to verify the existence of particular biochemical or chromosomal features. In many cases, the genetic defect has been characterized at the molecular level.

By using cell lines and DNA samples from the repository collection, scientists can study rare disorders without having to locate an appropriate cell donor. The repository also contains materials from many extended families with rare diseases, panels of well-characterized rodent/human somatic cell hybrids, and special collections of DNA samples that serve as important resources for mapping the locations of genes associated with genetic disorders in humans and for the discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms.

"Samples from the repository have become increasingly useful reagents for many kinds of genetic studies, including identifying and confirming the gene responsible for a particular disorder and detecting variants of genes associated with a disease," said Dr. Judith Greenberg, director of the NIGMS Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology and project officer for the repository contract.

For a modest fee, a researcher may obtain cell cultures or DNA samples from the cell repository. CIMR maintains a catalog of available cell lines, along with detailed background information on their origin and characteristics, in a database available on the World Wide Web at The database also enables researchers to receive continuously updated information about available cell lines and DNA samples.

Since its establishment in 1972, the cell repository has distributed over 78,000 cell cultures and 30,000 DNA samples. Currently, the repository contains over 6,700 cell lines representing nearly 450 different genetic defects, as well as DNA samples from 2,000 of these cell lines.

The Coriell Institute for Medical Research is located at 401 Haddon Avenue, Camden, NJ 08103 (telephone: 800-752-3805).

In addition to supporting the Human Genetic Cell Repository, NIGMS funds research and research training in such basic biomedical sciences as genetics and developmental biology; cell biology and biophysics; and pharmacology, physiology, and biorelated chemistry. This support enables scientists at universities, medical schools, and research institutions throughout the country to work to expand knowledge about the fundamental life processes that underlie human health and disease.

This release will be posted on the NIGMS World Wide Web site at: