Emergency Options for Critical Research Repositories

Researchers are reminded to make emergency plans considering three key repositories that are very difficult, if not impossible, to replace:

  • Freezers
  • Data
  • Genetically engineered animals:  Transgenic and Knockout mice

This page will be updated as new information or resources become available.

Freezers:  Emergency Off-Site Freezer Storage Facilities

A company in Houston called CryoGene has a storage facility near IH 610 and Highway 288 (near the old Astroworld location).  CryoGene has the space, equipment and staff to meet UTMB’s off-site storage requirements.  Currently, CryoGene has a multi-year contract with MD Anderson and other components of the Medical Center in Houston for off-site storage of samples.  Their facility was constructed specifically with tropical storms in mind.  In the interest of time, CryoGene has extended the MD Anderson pricing to UTMB.

Please see the pricing structure for CryoGene at the link below.  If there are questions about the service, investigators may contact Kevin Brown, Purchasing Supervisor (ext 78006), or the company representative, Leigh Anne Hill, at 713-664-1600.

Options, Including Off-Site Storage

To protect critical and sensitive data, data owners are reminded of the requirements to back up data in accordance with UTMB Practice Standard 1.3.2, Backup and Data Recovery. If data is being stored on network drives (i.e. “H” drives) that are managed and controlled by centralized UTMB Information Services (IS), back-ups are occurring on a scheduled basis with the tapes being stored off site, so no other action is required.

For those not using IS data storage, IS offers three options researchers can use to protect their valuable data. 
  • Off-site storage of researcher-owned media such as CD’s, DVD’s, portable hard drives is available at no extra cost.  Contact the IS Operations Command Center at x23873 to take advantage of this service. 
  • Backup storage is available from IS at a cost of $3.50 per GB per year.  Contact Andy Fisher, IS, via e-mail or at Ext. 78896, to take  advantage of this service.
  • Active file storage is available from IS at a cost of $6 per GB per year.  Contact Andy Fisher, IS, via e-mail or at Ext. 78896, to take advantage of this service.

Researchers can also use portable external hard disk backups, portable hard-drives and/or USB flash drives that can be taken off the island during an emergency.  All sensitive data being stored on these portable devices must be protected in accordance with UTMB’s Portable Computing Practice Standard. This standard requires sensitive data to be encrypted and password protected.

There are a number of free online storage services on the Internet.  IS does not specifically recommend these services because UTMB does not have a business relationship with these vendors, and the vendors are not contractually responsible to safeguard data in a manner consistent with federal and state requirements.  If there is interest in a specific online storage service, please contact Todd Leach, IS, via e-mail or on x2-3811 and ask that a relationship be established with this vendor.

SAFETY TIP FOR ONLINE STORAGE:  Servers crash; companies go out of business, both without warning.  Never trust an online storage service with the only copy of your vital data.  Also, while all of these services take measures to lock down your data, the privacy and security of your files is ultimately up to you.  Be sure to encrypt all files holding sensitive or confidential data, and plan for the day your files disappear.

Unique/Genetically Engineered Animals

The three options for protecting key animal strains are as follows:

  • Make sure a collaborator in another location has a breeding pair or a breeding colony
  • Cryopreservation.  UTMB Transgenic Mouse Core Facility (TMCF) offers services to freeze and store mouse embryos and sperm. The cost for embryo cryopreservation is $450 per session; the cost for sperm cryopreservation is $250 per five mice.
    After  embryos/sperm are frozen, two thirds of the specimens are stored in two liquid nitrogen vapor-phase freezers.
    These freezers,  dedicated specifically to the storage of embryos/sperm of unique/genetically engineered animals, are located at UTMB, and maintained by TMCF.  The remaining specimens are transferred to and stored at CryoGene.
    For more information contact Dr. Maki Wakamiya (mawakami@utmb.edu ), or visit TMCF’s web site (http://www.utmb.edu/scccb/mouse/ ). 
  • Deposit strains to the Jackson Laboratory.  For more information, visit http://www.jax.org/.

Related Links:

UTMB Emergency Management Plan http://www.utmb.edu/emergency_plan/
Laboratory Preparedness Meeting 5/1702012  Agenda and Presentations