Stock Centers obtain further funding and introduce user fees

Randy Scholl (1), Keith Davis(1) and Mary Anderson (2)

(1)Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center, Ohio State University, 309 B&Z Building, 1735 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, USA
phone: 614-292-9371
fax: 614-292-0603

(2) Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre, Dept Life Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK
Tel +44 115 9791216
Fax +44 115 9513251
WWW server URL=

Stock Centres obtain further funding

We are pleased to announce that, based on the success of the last five years, the Stock Centres have now officially received funding to continue to provide seed, DNA and information resources. The Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre (NASC) and the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC) have received five-year and four-year funding from the BBSRC and NSF, respectively. Together with the funds raised from user fees, we will be able to continue the expansion of our collections to meet the needs of the research programme.

Introduction of user fees

As part of our renewed funding programme and as announced on the Arabidopsis newsgroup, from April 1, 1997, ABRC and NASC have implemented a user fee system. Some user fees were necessary to allow us to keep pace with the demand for services in the current grant funding climate. The user system involves "general" fees, which are annual fees covering different range of usages for individual seed and DNA stocks plus a few individual charges for seed stocks such as sets of T-DNA lines and DNA stocks such as library filters.

The user fee system was design to be simple to deal with, fair to all users and minimize associated paperwork. The fees of ABRC and NASC are coordinated, and we expect to be cooperating in this effort, as in the past, to minimize the overall effort associated with Arabidopsis stock curation and distribution. We hope that enough funds will be raised to cover the continually increasing demand for our stocks and allow the necessary increase of effort required to handle increased numbers of stocks such as larger collections of T-DNA lines, new mutant stocks and BAC clones.

The text of the sections describing the justification and detail of charging from the original newsgroup annoucement on charging are reprinted below. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

Partial Text of the Newsgroup Announcement on User Fees

The Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC) and the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre (NASC) have been providing stocks to researchers for over five years, subsidized by the NSF in the U.S and the BBSRC in the U.K. It was the initial policy of both centers to provide resources to all users free of charge. This policy has served Arabidopsis research well and fostered the development of major research activity. Funding constraints in both the U.S. and U.K. combined with the continually increasing variety of and demand for stocks have resulted in a gap between the funds available and those needed to provide these services. Hence, both the NASC and ABRC advisory committees concluded to best serve Arabidopsis research in the future, user fees should be instituted. Below, we outline the benefits and details of the new user fee system.

Why user fees are now necessary

The stock centers were initially established to preserve seed and DNA stocks of Arabidopsis and to distribute these to anyone interested in using these for research. It was envisaged that mutant lines, ecotypes, clones of individual genes and YAC and phage libraries would be received and distributed. The budgets for the first five years of both centers were developed on these bases. All of the initially proposed seed items have been incorporated into the NASC and ABRC collections. In addition, many stocks, not initially existing, also have been placed into the collections. Most notable of these are pooled samples of several thousand T-DNA transformants. Demand for all of our stocks has been exceedingly high, resulting in larger than anticipated supply expenditures. In spite of this, the centers have managed to operate within their originally allocated budgets.

As we plan for the future, it is expected that funding for the Centers from both U.K and U.S. funding agencies will decrease with time, while still providing significant financial support. This is in keeping with the very tight overall support of research from governments. However, demand for current stocks is still increasing, and there are many new stocks which clearly should be incorporated into our collections and distributed. The potential new stocks include vastly increased holdings of T-DNA and transposon lines, more large-insert libraries (probably including those that will be associated with the Arabidopsis sequencing project) and pooled DNAs for PCR probing of both of the above resources.

It has been agreed by the Advisory Committees of both centers to initiate some user fees. It is felt that the fee schedules outlined in the following section can accomplish all of the above goals. We hope that you will find the fees modest and not onerous. The anticipated revenues from the user fees will account for less than 20% of the total (direct plus indirect) support of either center from outside sources. Also, the stocks centers will not in any case realize profits on any stocks. Rather the fees recover some of our handling and materials costs.

Details of the charging system

The charging policies of the Arabidopsis centers are designed to raise some necessary operating funds while adhering to the following principles:

  1. Keep costs to users as low as possible;
  2. Minimize paperwork for users and the centers
  3. Charge as equitably as possible relative to individual usage while keeping the pricing structure simple

Based on the above criteria, the charging policy is as follows:

Annual "general" fees based on usage levels will be collected from each laboratory ordering stocks from a stock center. Also, some large groups of seed stocks and major DNA stocks will have individual fees. The usage levels determining the general fees are:

  1. Occasional users. Users ordering 10 or fewer individual stocks in a single order per year will be considered "occasional" users and will not be asked to pay a general fee. These stocks will be provided free of charge.

  2. Small quantity users. If a laboratory orders 11 stocks from NASC but does not exceed 100 stocks, then they are considered a small quantity user. For orders from the ABRC, a small quantity user will be someone who orders more than 11 but less than 101 stocks in either the seed or DNA category. Here, the classification is not based on the sum of seed and DNA stocks ordered, but rather on the larger order total of the two.

  3. Large quantity users. If a laboratory orders from NASC at least 101 but does not exceed 200 stocks, then they are a large quantity user. Similarly, if a laboratory orders at least 101 from ABRC but does not exceed 200 stocks in either the seed or DNA category, it is a large quantity user (with the higher of the two classifications determining the usage level).

For laboratories exceeding the 200-stock limit, proportional additional fees will be requested.

European users are expected to order and pay general fees through NASC and North American users are expected to order from and pay general fees to ABRC. Laboratories in other locations may establish their primary affiliation with either center. Users will need only to pay the annual fee to one centre for seeds. If it becomes necessary to order from the second centre, there will be no additional charge. In such cases, the total number of stocks ordered at both centres will determine the general fee category. However, DNA-only supplemental general affiliations to ABRC are available to NASC subscribers at 1/2 the regular rates. In no case will double (full) fees to ABRC and NASC be charged. The pricing/fee structure for current stocks is outlined below:

NASC general fee for all users:
High users:260 pounds
Low users:130
ABRC general fee for all North and South American users:
High users:$400
Low users: 200
ABRC general fees for other users:
High users: $400
Low users: 200
DNA:With NASC or ABRC seed subscription: Without any seed subscription:
High users:$200 $400
Low users:100 200

The current stocks for which individual charges will be assessed are sets of T-DNA pools, recombinant inbred sets, large-insert libraries and filters, pooled DNA from large-insert libraries and pooled DNA from T-DNA lines. The cost of these will be essentially proportional to the number of stocks in the group. Ordering of these stocks does not require a general fee nor contribute to a laboratory's user size classification.

Shipping costs will be added to the invoice for all orders requiring special handling.

Invoicing information

The charging system was introduced on April 1, 1997. From this date, you simply order stocks as previously, and we will send an invoice along with your stocks when you have qualified for a usage level and/or for stocks which have specific associated costs. Please be sure to include the name of the person in charge of the laboratory on all orders, since we must have this information to process the order. The period to which the first annual fee applies will extend through until April 30, 1998 ie an extra month for this first year. All questions regarding invoices should be directed to the appropriate stock center.

Payments to the ABRC should be made by cheque to The Ohio State University in U.S. Dollars and for NASC the cheque should be made payable in Pounds Sterling to the University of Nottingham. Note that for certain European Community countries a 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) will be added for NASC orders. The general fees cover all individuals working in a single laboratory.

NOTE, that for any laboratory which needs a particular stock(s) but which cannot afford the associated charge, we will send the stock free of charge.

Our primary goal remains to serve Arabidopsis researchers, and the funds generated by this system will allow us to serve you even better. Feel free to contact either NASC or ABRC if you have questions or comments regarding this policy. Since this represents a new dimension to our operations, we hope that you will be understanding as we implement this system. We encourage any comments or suggestions you may have regarding these charges. We are certain that improvements can be made as we gain experience.

The mailing addresses for payment of fees and questions about invoices are the same as for ordering stocks:

Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center
Ohio State University
309 Botany & Zoology Bldg.
1735 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210 USA

Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre
Department of Life Science
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD, U.K.

EmailWeb address

Feel free to contact us at (NASC) or (ABRC),if you have questions.