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Last Updated: 04/30/24

The NCI Natural Products Repository

Since 1986, the Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP) has empowered the Natural Products Branch (NPB) to acquire plants and marine organisms through collection contracts encompassing over 25 tropical and subtropical countries worldwide. As of January, 2015, the Repository includes:

  • ~80,000 plant samples collected in Africa and Madagascar, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia through contracts with the Missouri Botanical Garden, the New York Botanical Garden, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, assisted by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.
  • ~20,000 marine invertebrates and marine algae collected, mainly from the Indo-Pacific region, through contracts with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and the Coral Reef Research Foundation. In addition,
  • ~16,000 microbes accrued through collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture.

In undertaking these collections, the NCI has committed itself to the conservation of biological diversity, as well as to policies of fair and equitable collaboration and compensation in interacting with the Source Countries participating in the collection programs. Agreements based on the NCI Letter of Collection have been signed with relevant government organizations in many of the source countries participating in the collection program.

Each collection organism is extracted in the Natural Products Extraction Laboratory both for organic and aqueous soluble constituents and the resulting extracts are stored at -20°C in the Natural Products Repository. Both these facilities are operated by Leidos Biomedical Research Inc. at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research under contract to the NCI. Both aqueous and organic extracts are tested in the NCI screening programs.

NCI considers the Natural Products Repository as a national resource. Access to this Repository will be subject to meeting the conditions and signing a Material Transfer Agreement (pdf file for download) protecting the rights of all parties.

About the Branch Chief

Dr. Barry R. O’Keefe Dr. Barry R. O’Keefe received a B.S. in Botany from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacognosy from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1993. In 1994 he joined the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Drug Discovery Research and Development to study novel proteins from natural products extracts. More…