[Xenopus] Save Model Organisms Databases

National Xenopus Resource xenopus at mbl.edu
Thu Jun 30 11:36:28 EDT 2016

Dear Xenopus Colleagues, 
Below is information from Xenbase regarding funding for model organisms databases that they would like you to read about. 

Marko Horb 

Dear Colleague, 

The National Human Genome Research Insitute (NHGRI) has put forth plans to consolidate several major model organism databases (MODs) into a single combined database with a 30% reduction of funding for each MOD. Please read below an effort put forth by the Genetics Society of America (GSA) as well as the Zebrafish community who are raising concerns with these proposals. While Xenbase is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) and this does not impact Xenbase yet, it might in the near future. If the NIH proposal is adopted this could mean the end to MODs as we know them and the likely end to Xenbase. Also many of you probably use MGI, OMIM & ZFIN in your research. We strongly encourage you to sign the petition below which opposes the NIH proposal and supports maintaining model organism databases. 

the Xenbase team. 



Dear Zebrafish Researchers, 

As officers of the International Zebrafish Society (IZFS), we are writing to call your attention to a critical issue that has arisen for our community. The NIH institute (NHGRI) that supports ZFIN and other Model Organism Databases (MODs) is changing their funding approach. These changes are reported today in Nature ( http://www.nature.com/news/1.20134 ) as well as previously in Science ( http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6268/14.long ). NIH has put forth a plan where ZFIN and its equivalents for C. elegans, yeast, Drosophila, mouse and rat would combine into a single ‘uberMOD’, with an upcoming 30% cut in funding. While integration would increase accessibility of the functional data across communities, the current plan to reduce funding would have a severe impact on ZFIN’s ability to maintain zebrafish-specific datasets that many of us rely on daily. 

Because of the broad impact of this plan on thousands of researchers, leaders of model organism communities together wrote a letter to NIH leadership that strongly supports the MODs and advocates for maintaining species-specific datasets with requisite funding. A bevy of prominent signatories, including Nobel laureates, heads of scientific societies, and National Academy members have already endorsed this initiative. We hope to gather thousands of additional signatures and present the letter to NIH Director Francis Collins at the TAGC meeting in Orlando. The letter can be easily signed on a website created by the GSA: http://www.genetics-gsa.org/MODsupport 

We urge you to visit the above link and add your name to the Statement of Support. We also urge you to forward this email to colleagues and trainees in your lab, as we aim to collect signatures from all MOD users who concur (in signing, the question about NIH support, includes all those in an NIH-funded lab). Finally, we encourage you to spread the word, including via social media. We believe that a strong show of support, via an outpouring of signatures, will help shape the NHGRI plan to preserve the MOD features that are most important to our research enterprise. 


Brant Weinstein & Mary Mullins 

President & Vice President, IZFS 


Dear Researchers, 

Many research discoveries rely on the accumulated wealth of genetic, genomic and cellular knowledge derived from model organisms. This knowledge is made accessible via the Model Organism Databases (MODs). NHGRI/NIH has recently advanced a plan in which the MODs will be integrated into a single combined database, along with a 30% reduction in funding for each MOD (see here for a report on early developments in this plan). While increased integration presents many advantages, the plan will result in a loss of critical organism-specific datasets. The funding cut will also cripple core functions like high quality literature curation and genome annotation, degrading the utility of the MODs. Given the large number of scientists this policy change would affect and the importance of their work, this issue is of extreme concern. 

Leaders of several model organism communities, working with the Genetics Society of America (GSA), have come together to write a Statement of Support for the MODs, and to urge NIH to revise its proposal. We ask that you join GSA in this effort by signing the open letter for MOD support. The letter, along with all signatures, will be presented to NIH Director Francis Collins on July 14 , 2016, during The Allied Genetics Conference. 




Charter Signatories 

Model Organism Community Leaders 

David Bilder, President, FlyBoard 
Andrew Chisholm, President, WormBoard 
Teresa Gunn, President, International Mammalian Genetics Society 
Mary Mullins, Vice-President, International Zebrafish Society 

Scientific Society Leaders 

Lynn Cooley, Vice-President, Genetics Society of America 
Stan Fields, President, Genetics Society of America 
Robb Krumlauf, President, Society for Developmental Biology 
Peter Walter, President, American Society of Cell Biology 

Nobel Laureates 

Bruce A. Beutler 
Mario Capecchi 
Martin Chalfie 
Andrew Z. Fire 
Lee Hartwell 
Carol Greider 
H. Robert Horvitz 
Paul M. Nurse 
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard 
John Sulston 
Jack W. Szostak 
Eric F. Wieschaus 

National Academy Members and Others 

Victor Ambros 
Angelika Amon 
Kathryn V. Anderson 
Arthur L. Beaudet 
Sue Biggins 
Jef D. Boeke 
Thomas Cline 
Gerry Fink 
Scott Fraser 
Minx Fuller 
Barry Ganetzky 
Dan Gottschling 
James E. Haber 
Richard Harland 
Sandy Johnson 
Thom Kaufman 
Judith Kimble 
Chuck Kimmel 
David M. Kingsley 
Mark Krasnow 
Edison T. Liu 
Barbara J. Meyer 
Andrew W. Murray 
Roel Nusse 
Terry Orr-Weaver 
Norbert Perrimon 
Tom Petes 
Jasper Rine 
Janet Rossant 
Gerry Rubin 
Gary Ruvkun 
Trudi Schüpbach 
Joseph S. Takahashi 
Jeremy Thorner 
James E. Womack 
Leonard Zon 


Virgilio G. Ponferrada, PhD 
Xenbase Curator 
Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation 
3333 Burnet Avenue, S3.607 
Cincinnati, Ohio 45229-3039 
tel: (513) 636-4142 
fax: (513) 636-4317 
virgilio.ponferrada at cchmc.org 
vg.ponferrada at gmail.com 


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