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Genetic Materials Grant Policy

General Philosophy

The UMMZ Bird Division maintains a collection of frozen tissues, most of which are associated with vouchers in the specimen collection. We wish to make these available to qualified scientists doing legitimate research. Tissue samples are expensive to collect and maintain, and are depleted with use. Thus, we have developed the following guidelines to help us meet our goals of serving the research community and preserving the value of our collection for current and future research.

Researchers may occasionally request samples of feathers, toe pads, or bone from traditional specimens for DNA analysis. However, the researcher must provide compelling reasons why the project cannot be completed without destructive sampling of UMMZ specimens, and convincing evidence for success of the proposed molecular protocols for 'ancient' DNA extraction. Requests for destructive sampling of skin or skeletal material will be evaluated more stringently than other requests.

Requests for Materials

Informal inquiries about tissue holdings can be made to the UMMZ Bird Division collection manager via email. Students are welcome to make these informal preliminary inquiries. Our specimen database, including frozen tissue samples, can be searched on Vertnet at Informal inquiries should be followed by a formal written grant request by the professor for genetic materials containing the following elements:

1) A brief summary of the research in which the following issues are addressed:

  • a. objectives of the project and its potential scientific value
  • b. feasibility and time frame of the study;
  • c. availability of material from wild populations or captive sources. This should include a description of efforts to obtain samples through the researcher’s own fieldwork, or explanation of why field sampling is not possible or feasible for the project.
  • d. methods of analysis
  • e. qualifications of the investigator(s) to perform the laboratory work
  • f. availability of funding to complete the project
  • g. other sources of material to be used and any results obtained to date
  • h. why samples are needed from the UMMZ Bird Division collection

2) Information on type of material needed, approximate amount of material desired, conditions and method of transport, and a Federal Express or UPS recharge number if the material is to be shipped on dry ice. Materials from the frozen tissue collection will be sent in ethanol at ambient temperature except in unusual cases.

Requests must be accompanied by copies of all requisite permits. For non-U.S. researchers, this includes a copy of any import permit required by the non-U.S. government. If no permit is needed, the researcher must state such in writing at the time that the genetic materials request is submitted. Requests from non-U.S. researchers for tissue of species regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (e.g., CITES-species, endangered species, migratory birds) will be processed with the proper U.S. export permits. Species listed only under CITES may be exported under a Certificate of Scientific Exchange if the receiving institution possesses such a certificate. Requests from U.S. researchers for samples regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture must be accompanied by a copy of a USDA transport permit, issued to the recipient or the recipient's institution. If your institution does not have this permit, you may apply for USDA VS FORM 16-3 via their web page . Please be aware that USDA can take more than two months to process a transport permit request.

Review of Requests

Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the UMMZ Bird Division curators with the following criteria in mind:

  • a. the nature and potential contribution of the planned study, including whether it duplicates previous efforts;
  • b. availability of material from wild or captive sources, and efforts by the investigator(s) to obtain such material
  • c. amount of material in the UMMZ Bird Division collections
  • d. amount of material in other museum collections
  • e. rarity and replaceability of the samples
  • f. demonstrated ability of the investigator to perform the work and complete the project
  • g. financial support for the project

Conditions of Agreement

Acceptance of genetic materials entails agreement that:

  • a. genetic materials granted to the recipient cannot be transferred to a third party without express written permission
  • b. any unused genetic materials must be returned to the UMMZ Bird Division upon completion of the study
  • c. any resulting molecular sequences be deposited ultimately in a public database such as GenBank
  • d. relevant UMMZ Bird Division voucher specimen catalog numbers, tissue collection numbers and an acknowledgement of UMMZ be included in publications
  • e. a file of UMMZ catalog numbers with the corresponding NCBI accession numbers be sent to the collection manager
  • f. a digital reprint of the final publication be sent to our collections manager

For loans of specimens, please contact the Bird Division Collection Manager, Brett Benz (, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1079 USA.