Despite the existence of a number of important national collections of biological materials within Europe, industry and the scientific community are often unaware of their existence or of the range of services offered. It is, therefore, an important task for the European culture collections to draw attention to themselves and to the facilities they have to offer. An important stage in their future development is considered to be the coordination of the exchange of information between culture collections and the provision of an information service to users.
The stock of catalogues has been extended so that copies from all European culture collections are now available. Catalogues from the most important collections outside Europe have been also obtained. Online access to the World Data Centre for Microorganisms (WDC) and to different national culture collections in Europe have been established. A list of names of bacteria has been compiled which are validly published as defined in the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria. A booklet on instructions for shipping non infectious and infectious biological substances was prepared and published. A study has been started on the deposit of microorganisms in culture collections.
The major tasks of the Information Centre for European Culture Collections (ICECC) are:
To provide a permanent secretariat for all European culture collections and a central contact point for European scientists and any institution seeking advice and information on cultures and culture collection related matters. To act as a public relations office on behalf of culture collections in dealing with regulatory bodies and the media. To publish regularly an information newsletter. To cooperate closely with the CEC supported Microbial Information Network Europe (MINE).
To collect information on the strains, cell lines and services offered by the European culture collections to users and to publicise the resources within the culture collections in terms of materials (preparation of printed and visual material for distribution) and scientific expertise. By participation at technical and scientific exhibitions, conferences, and congresses the ICECC demonstrates the importance of the services offered by European collections of biological material.
To hold catalogues from the various participating culture collections and to consider development of a European catalogue.
To keep close contacts with European research and biotechnology in order to inform or advise culture collections on new developments and requirements.
To encourage scientists to deposit microbial strains and other biological specimens of biotechnological and/or of general scientific significance in European culture collections as an important future resource.
To keep up to date information on national and international patent regulations and treaties for the benefit of depositors and depositories. To advise depositors on the requirements for the deposit of cultures for patent purposes. To advise culture collections on changes in patent regulations and to act as an information centre on patent matters in general.
To publicise the services and activities of the European culture collections throughout the world. To assist in the planning and running of national training courses within Europe and to act as a training centre.