Who Developed First Transgenic Monkey Joins Emory and Yerkes
Anthony W. S.
Chan, Ph.D., one of the first scientists to produce a genetically modified
monkey, has been appointed Assistant Research Professor in the Division
of Neuroscience at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Assistant
Professor in the Department of Human Genetics at the Emory University
School of Medicine.
Before joining Emory, Chan
was a staff scientist at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center
of the Oregon Health & Sciences University in Beaverton, Ore. At Emory,
Chan will lead a research program to develop new non-human primate models
for human diseases.
"Dr. Chan's groundbreaking
research will allow the creation of rhesus and rat models of human genetic
disease where mouse models are not sufficient for addressing critical
questions of disease progression, pathology, and potential therapy,"
said Stephen T. Warren, Ph.D., W. P. Timmie Professor and Chairman of
the Department of Human Genetics.
"Dr. Chan's pioneering work
will contribute enormously to the cutting-edge research in immunology
and other fields at Yerkes and Emory," said Stuart M. Zola, Ph.D., Director
of the Yerkes Center. "His research holds the potential to significantly
impact animal-based research in numerous areas of biomedical science."
In January 2001 Chan and
fellow researchers from ORPRC announced the successful production of
a transgenic rhesus macaque monkey, named ANDi for the reverse acronym
of "inserted DNA," that carried the jellyfish gene for green fluorescent
protein. Published in the journal Science, this achievement was
heralded for its potential to advance research in human disease, much
as the production of transgenic mice has revolutionized biomedical research.
The scientists produced ANDi
by injecting a harmless virus carrying the green fluorescent protein
(GFP) gene into unfertilized rhesus eggs. The virus inserted its DNA,
including the GFP gene, into the DNA of an egg, which then was fertilized
artificially. As the fertilized egg divided repeatedly to become a multi-celled
embryo, the GFP gene replicated along with the rest of the genetic material.
The experiment's success was confirmed simply by detecting the fluorescence
expressed by the foreign gene. Chan used a similar method to produce
genetically modified calves and pigs.
Two years earlier, Chan and
a research team cloned a rhesus monkey, Tetra, by splitting a single,
eight-cell embryo into four identical, two-cell embryos that then were
implanted into surrogate female monkeys.
While rhesus monkeys and
other non-human primates are used extensively to study human diseases
and conditions, scientists believe transgenic monkeys could provide
an improved model for some research purposes. The development of transgenic
mice greatly accelerated research in immunology and other fields, because
researchers were able to closely mimic human processes.
Chan hopes eventually to
produce genetically modified monkeys carrying genes associated with
specific human disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, in order to study
the role those genes play in vivo.
"With this understanding,"
Chan said, "we will ultimately be able to develop safer, better, and
more effective preventive medicine and therapies for a host of diseases."
Chan earned a bachelor's degree in veterinary medicine in 1989 from
National Taiwan University in Taipei and a doctoral degree in endocrinology
and reproductive physiology in 1997 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.