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strains do not have to provide full cost recovery for maintenance. This maintenance and distribution of special stocks at less than full cost may not be possible in the future, as federal money becomes tighter and Animal Resources is expected to cover more of the laboratory's research costs.
Like ATCC, The Jackson Laboratory puts institutional dollars into capital investments such as buildings, renovations, and equipment, as well as nonmonetary costs involved in providing resources for others. Muriel Davisson told the workshop that TJL is spending an incredible amount of institutional time negotiating agreements to obtain specific scientifically valuable mouse strains, despite the fact that these strains generate very little monetary return, either to TJL or to the people who contribute the mice. In-house scientists also personally provide a great deal of information about the resources that they share. Even though there is a technical support crew of two, which soon will be increased to three, the scientists themselves spend a considerable amount of time with customers and prospective customers. Finally, because it is the culture at the laboratory to share anything once it has been published, TJL scientists often find their own competitively funded research programs compromised by sharing information with potential competitors.
Other Issues and Problems
Problems that TJL has encountered include the fact that very few mouse strains are commercially viable. This has led other suppliers to develop their own mouse stocks of the most favored strains, which undermines the financial vitality of TJL. With the new importations into the Induced Mutant Resource, there are typically about 2,000 strains on campus, which is probably 100 times more than most commercial breeders would distribute. Without this additional overhead, commercial concerns do not find it difficult to undercut TJL prices on the popular strains.
Licensing requests, particularly by the contributor's institution, delay the release of new and interesting strains and add to the costs of the process. This aspect is enhanced by the increasing alliances between nonprofit institutions and for-profit biotechnology firms.
Initiation of the Induced Mutant Resource, and especially the attempt to open it to the maintenance of ''knockout'' mice developed elsewhere, have made it plain that a very large infusion of funds and personnel will be required if the TJL collection is ever to approach the status of a comprehensive national repository.