Appendix 1- Policy on the use of specimens in DNA-based studies


We welcome the opportunity for the collections in our care to be used in as many ways as possible for the furtherance of scientific study. The following guidelines have been drawn up to ensure that the needs of both contemporary and future users are properly catered for.

1. Procedure

All proposals for research involving extraction of DNA from Museum specimens should be addressed initially to the Keeper of the relevant department. The enquirer will be asked to complete a sampling request form, which will address:

  • the nature of the project;
  • justification for the use of the material requested;
  • evidence of a proven track record in the proposed techniques;
  • evidence that the proposed techniques produce reliable results;
  • support from acknowledged experts.

We will evaluate any proposal with regard to scientific importance and technical feasibility. We may request further information. A successful applicant will be required to enter into a formal legal requirement embodying the terms noted below. If approved we will nominate a contact for the project.

The choice of specimens and their use will be under the guidance of our appropriate curator. Only the smallest possible sample will be taken, from the least intrusive site and causing the least damage to the specimen.

We may seek the advice of external experts when we receive requests to sample archaeological human remains.

2. Terms & Conditions

2.1 Applicants must agree to:

  • return aliquots of extracted DNA to us;
  • submit sequences extracted from Museum specimens to GenBank/EMBL and provide us with the accession numbers or computer-readable copies of sequence data as soon as possible but no later than the date of submission for any publication arising from the work. In response, we undertake not to disseminate these data until they are accepted for publication;
  • provide copies of experimental protocols that differ from published methods. We undertake not to publicise such innovations until they have been published;
  • publish jointly with our own staff if they have contributed significantly to the work;
  • acknowledge use of the collections in publications involving use of Museum specimens. Reprints of such publications should be sent to the Museum;
  • provide brief bi-annual reports on the status of the research until it is either published or abandoned;
  • provide feedback to us indicating possible reasons for problems encountered, especially if the project fails.

2.2 We retain all rights to DNA sequences derived from specimens in our collections, unless rights are still held by the country of origin. The research and the results of the research may not be commercially exploited in any way without our prior agreement. We may refuse such agreements at our absolute discretion, or grant them, subject to such conditions as we may decide (and we may well require agreement as to the sharing of the financial benefits arising from such exploitation). Such decisions will be informed by the principles of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Material can only be passed to third parties, or PCR products subsequently used, with our approval.

We retain the right to insist that tissue extractions are undertaken in an appropriate laboratory.

We retain the right to refuse permission for DNA to be extracted from the Museum specimens.

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