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ATCC is a private, nonprofit biological resource center (BRC) and research organization whose mission focuses on the acquisition, authentication, production, preservation, development and distribution of standard reference microorganisms, cell lines and other materials for research in the life sciences.



ATCC was established in 1925 when a committee of scientists recognized a need for a central collection of microorganisms that would serve scientists all over the world. The early years were spent at the McCormick Institute in Chicago until the organization moved to Georgetown University in Washington, DC in 1937. As research in the biosciences expanded, ATCC began to diversify its holdings, and as the collections grew ATCC occupied a series of sites, each providing more storage space. ATCC moved to its current state-of-the-art building in 1998.



ATCC activities are housed in a Manassas, Virginia facility. The 126,000 sq. ft. building is monitored constantly by on-site security staff, and electric power is backed up by on-site generators. The repository portion of the facility occupies 18,000 sq. ft. and contains 200 freezers to store biomaterials, including vapor-phase liquid nitrogen freezers, mechanical freezers and cold rooms. The repository space is complemented by 35,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space.



The community of users of ATCC products and services is international, and includes researchers in academia and government, as well as private industry. Over 80% of ATCC’s customer base represents academia and industry – about 40% each from universities and private industry. Government customers comprise 6% of the organization’s total. Three-quarters of ATCC customers hail from the U.S., while the remaining 25% are international customers. ATCC maintains a network of authorized distributors around the world. Among the industries represented in ATCC’s customer base are the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agricultural and diagnostics industries, as well as food, beverage and cosmetics makers and reference and testing laboratories, among others.



ATCC’s collections include a wide range of biological materials for research, including cell lines, molecular genomics tools, microorganisms and bioproducts. The organization holds a collection of more than 3,400 human, animal and plant cell lines. The molecular genomics collection at ATCC contains 8 million cloned genes from a host of species, including human, mouse, soybean, rat, monkey, zebrafish and several disease vectors. ATCC’s microorganism collection includes more than 18,000 strains of bacteria, 2,000 different types of animal viruses and 1,000 plant viruses. In addition, ATCC maintains collections of protozoans, yeasts and fungi with over 49,000 yeast and fungi strains and 2,000 strains of protists.



ATCC is an ISO 9001:2008 certified, ISO 17025:2005 and ISO Guide 34:2009 accredited organization. ISO accreditations have allowed ATCC to evolve from a traditional culture collection to Biological Resource Center with an infrastructure that supports the future of life science and biotechnology.



ATCC is committed to provide quality products and services to the life science community. The commitment includes the following certifications and accreditations:

  • ISO 9001:2008 Certified
  • ISO/IEC 17025:2005 Accredited
  • ISO Guide 34:2009 Accredited
  • An experienced Quality management team who ensure that the acquisition, authentication, preservation, development and distribution of biological materials are being performed under, and conform to a documented quality management system.
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