Tom Deerinck, NIGMS, NIH

Naming a Cell Line

Naming a Cell Line

Download the latest version of our Naming a Cell Line document (updated 25 September 2015).

This document was written to help a scientist find a unique name for a new cell line.

ICLAC has noticed an increasing number of cell lines with identical names but coming from different donors.  To help address this problem, we set out essential requirements for cell line names and recommend a naming format.

Numerical identifiers are also important to identify and track cell lines in publications.  For more information see:

Bandrowski AE, Martone ME (2016) RRIDs: A Simple Step toward Improving Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency of Experimental Methods. Neuron 90(3): 434-6. See Journal website.

In some cases, standardized nomenclature will apply e.g., for human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs).  For more information see:

Kurtz A, Seltmann S, Bairoch A, Bittner MS, Bruce K, Capes-Davis A, Clarke L, Crook JM, Daheron L, Dewender J, Faulconbridge A, Fujibuchi W, Gutteridge A, Hei DJ, Kim YO, Kim JH, Kokocinski AK, Lekschas F, Lomax GP, Loring JF, Ludwig T, Mah N, Matsui T, Müller R, Parkinson H, Sheldon M, Smith K, Stachelscheid H, Stacey G, Streeter I, Veiga A, Xu RH (2018) A Standard Nomenclature for Referencing and Authentication of Pluripotent Stem Cells. Stem Cell Reports 10(1): 1-6. See Journal website.