HU science relic considered a ‘national treasure’ moves to Smithsonian Museum

Ryuzo Yanagimachi watches teams pack Cumulina for the Smithsonian.

Nearly 24 years after its birth made international headlines, Cumulina, the first cloned mouse and the first cloned mammal in the United States, recently made the journey to its new home in the famed Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, CC

screen mouse
Photo credit: Richard Strauss, Smithsonian National Museum of American History

The most famous mouse in scientific history was named after the cumulus cells whose nuclei were used to clone it. Cumulina was created in a lab in 1997 using the distinctive “Honolulu Technique” developed by an international team led by Ryuzo Yanagimachi to uh Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine. Yanagimachi’s work helped lay the foundations for in vitro fertilization in the early 1960s. Although Yanagimachi officially retired in 2005, he continues to be an active researcher at uh Manoa Biogenesis Research Institute (IBR), which he founded.

“I see Cumulina as an ambassador to the world for the biomedical research that is done at the University of Hawaii. The University of Hawaii is a world-class 1 research university. The discovery that a mouse could be cloned over and over again happened here before it happened anywhere else in the world,” said W. Steven Warddirector of the IBR and JABOM teacher.

Cumulina lived to a mature age of 31 months, which is equivalent to 95 years in humans. She died of natural causes in 2001 and until she was donated to the museum she was kept at the uh IBRpart of JABOM.

cumulina on display
Cumulina before being carefully packaged for shipment to the Smithsonian Museum.

“The fact that the Smithsonian Institute accepted this gift so eagerly is confirmation of the discovery’s place in history. We are delighted that the University of Hawaii will now be recognized in the nation’s flagship history museum as having made a breakthrough in biomedical science,” Ward said.

In addition to Cumulina, the museum also acquired a sheet of paper streaked with the mouse’s footprints, made on its second birthday, which testifies to the research team’s enthusiasm for the normal aging process. of the mouse.

“Cumulina is a wonderful addition to our collection,” said curator Kristen Frederick-Frost. “This little mouse will help our audience explore complex topics, from the science of copying organisms to the ethics of doing so. When Cumulina was born, people wondered what or who was next. We still wonder It is part of the past that pushes us to consider the possibilities of the future.

Smithsonian magazine projector

Like a celebrity, Cumulina was welcomed to her new hometown with a special photo shoot courtesy of Smithsonian magazine. She will appear in the National Treasure Chronicle in the June 2022 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. In CCit will be kept in the Medicine and Science Division of the museum.

“I’m glad more people can see it than here at IBR… It’s very good for us and for Cumulina too,” Yanagimachi said.

As the museum explores future exhibit possibilities, details about Cumulina will be available on the museum’s website and in the American Treasures column of the Smithsonian Magazine. Cumulina was the first mammal to be cloned more than once and over multiple generations. In fact, the Yanagimachi lab produced over 50 carbon copy mice using what was thought to be a more reliable cloning technique than that used to create Dolly the Sheep. The clear reproducibility of the Honolulu technique for cloning mammals convinced the world that the cloning was real.

This work is an example of uh Mānoa’s goal of Research Excellence: Advancing the Enterprise of Research and Creative Work (PDF), one of the four objectives identified in the Strategic Plan 2015-2025 (PDF), updated December 2020.

About Carlos V. Mitchell

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