Julie Fronczek serves San Diego Zoo Global as a Senior Research Associate in Conservation Genetics. The focus of her research is to establish fibroblast cell cultures from a diversity of animals. Each species has unique specifications for cell growth, including type of cell culture media, media concentration, and incubation temperature. Julie’s work entails finding the optimal conditions under which to establish cell lines for banking in the Frozen Zoo®. She also prepares karyotypes from banked cell lines as a means of quality control, and to identify any chromosomal abnormalities.
A main focus of Julie’s work has been to optimize conditions for growth of amphibian cell lines. Establishing amphibian cell lines is challenging due to the high presence of bacteria on the skin, which makes the cultures vulnerable to contamination. Some amphibian species that Julie and her colleagues have successfully added to the Frozen Zoo® include the mountain yellow-legged frog, the boreal toad, and the Houston toad. Julie also serves as an instructor for our Frozen Zoo® Cell Culture Seminars. She shares her knowledge with students from around the world in hopes that they can apply the techniques learned to advance their research and establish their own cell line collections.
Prior to joining San Diego Zoo Global, Julie worked for veterinary practices in San Diego as a technician. The aspect of her job she loves the most is the role she plays in the conservation of important genetic material.