eBook Release: A History of ATCC

Transformation of an Icon: ATCC and the New Business Model for Science

Cover of Transformation of an Icon: ATCC and the New Business Model for Science book
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“Transformation of an Icon: ATCC and the New Business Model for Science”

Written by Dr. Raymond Cypess, ATCC Chairman and CEO, and Frank Simione, director of Standards (retired), in conjunction with The History Factory, a heritage management agency

Journey back with Dr. Raymond Cypess as he shares an in-depth, compelling look at the fascinating history and expanding mission of the ATCC organization.

The Story Behind the Book

At its inception in the 1920s and for several decades, ATCC was a nonprofit organization regarded as simply a microbe collection, which depended primarily on government and foundation funding to stay afloat. As federal spending priorities shifted away from collection support in the last two decades of the 20th century, the organization was impacted, suffering from a siloed organizational structure, outdated facilities, and the absence of standardized handling practices. These challenges had grave repercussions for the future of scientific inquiry.

Raymond Cypess took the helm of the organization during the summer of 1993 with a clear purpose: To reinvigorate the organization, raise its profile in the biological sciences, and serve as a strong advocate for standards in biomaterials and information. He sought to adopt a business model to ensure ATCC could become -- and remain -- self-sustaining in response to changes in the global scientific enterprise as its collection grew, and bioresources were circulated more widely for research purposes.

By the 2010s, Cypess’ efforts had paid off: He had transformed ATCC into a self-sustaining biological resource center and vital resource for those pursuing advances in biological sciences. He also successfully expanded the understanding about the critical role of standards in the scientific enterprise.

ATCC approached The History Factory in the spring of 2015 to help produce a lasting legacy of the organization’s transformation to a self-sustaining entity. Working closely with Cypess and other key stakeholders at ATCC, The History Factory was able to connect the organization’s current and future business goals with its past accomplishments and create a compelling narrative that captures ATCC’s unique evolution to a self-sustaining bioresource center.