Funding cut puts UNM specimen collection at risk

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A museum at the University of New Mexico maintains the world’s largest archive of frozen tissue samples, but a recent National Science Foundation decision put the specimens at risk.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the NSF last month indefinitely suspended a program that funds maintenance of biological research collections like the half-million specimens at UNM’s Museum of Southwestern Biology.

Scientists argue that such collections enable a wide range of research, from the impact of climate change to how species evolve. They say some specimens would be irreplaceable if lost.

NSF normally doles out between $3 million and $5 million in grants each year to organizations that maintain natural history collections. The agency announced the suspension March 16, saying it needed to keep a flat budget and review grant programs. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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