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Introducing the T.C. Hsu Cryo-Zoo at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Tao-Chiuh (T.C.) Hsu, Ph.D. (17 April 1917 – 9 July 2003) was a Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, joining the institution in 1955. He was an internationally-recognized cytogeneticist, having discovered a technique using a hypotonic solution, that revolutionized chromosome preparations to determine karyotypes. He was President of the American Society for Cell Biology (1974). He has been called the "Father of modern cytogenetics".

During his tenure at MD Anderson, Dr. Hsu collected and cryo-archived fibroblasts derived from biopsies of numerous and diverse mammalian species. These specimens were collected from zoos, universities, and the wild from collaborators around the world. Fibroblasts derived from the biopsies were karyotyped and frozen for storage. The Cryo-Zoo represents a unique cell archive of genetic information.

Dr. Hsu said "If through my work children two centuries hence may be able to see extinct species live again, I feel that I will have left a worthwhile legacy."

The Cryo-Zoo is currently held by Drs. Asha Multani, Sen Pathak, and Richard Behringer in the Department of Genetics at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. More recently, Dr. Liesl Nel-Themaat and Arisa Furuta contributed to the organization and annotation of the Cryo-Zoo.

Today, we are excited to announce that the Cryo-Zoo is joining the DNA Zoo consortium. Working together, we are hoping to digitize the notebooks describing the Cryo-Zoo, grow the cells in larger numbers, make them available to the scientific community, and use them to accelerate comparative genomics and epigenomics.

Today’s assembly is an example of what we hope to achieve: we used fibroblasts first archived in the Cryo-Zoo in 1977, over half a century ago. You can read more about the Cryo-Zoo in a 1971 excerpt from the Time magazine!

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