Redesignates Yerkes as National Primate Research Center
The Yerkes Center
of Emory University has been renamed the Yerkes National Primate Research
Center, in recognition of its involvement with and impact on research
programs throughout the U.S. and the world.
The name change was made
in accordance with a recent decision of the National Center for Research
Resources, part of the National Institutes of Health, to redesignate
all eight federally funded Regional Primate Research Centers as National
Primate Research Centers (NPRCs).
The RPRC system was created
by Congress in 1960 to address the critical need for special facilities
in which scientists could conduct multidisciplinary behavioral and biomedical
research with non-human primates. That year, Yerkes was designated as
an RPRC, four years after its purchase by Emory from Yale University.
The designation translated into federal funding that covered the cost
of operating Yerkes.
This federal support continues
today in the form of an NIH base grant awarded at five-year intervals
via a competitive renewal process. The base grant now represents a fraction
of Yerkes' total $36 million grant portfolio, which has tripled in size
since 1998. Within the University, the Yerkes Center's research funding
ranks second behind the School of Medicine.
In return for the federal
dollars they receive, the NPRCs bear the dual mandate of providing optimal
research environments for their own scientific faculty and serving as
resources for collaborative investigators from other institutions. To
that end, Yerkes has some 85 affiliate and collaborative faculty from
the School of Medicine and the University as well as outside Emory,
and the Center provides research services to scientists representing
65 research institutions throughout the U.S. and the world.
Founded in 1929 by Yale psychobiologist
Robert M. Yerkes, the Center once housed more than two dozen different
species of non-human primates, including all five species of great apes:
gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, bonobos, and chimpanzees. As the need
for non-human primate models in biomedical research grew, Yerkes narrowed
the diversity of its colony to focus its resources on breeding and housing
larger numbers of the animals most commonly used in research, such as
Today, Yerkes houses roughly
3,000 non-human primates representing eight species. Of the apes, only
the chimpanzees remain, the other great apes having been donated to
zoological parks. About 1,900 non-human primates live at the 117-acre
Field Station in Lawrenceville, Ga., while another 1,100 primates and
2,500 rodents are housed at the Main Station on the main Emory campus.
With these animals, Yerkes
scientists are developing vaccines for AIDS, malaria, and other infectious
diseases, and treatments for cocaine addiction, Parkinson's disease,
and cardiovascular disease. Other research programs focus on age-related
cognitive decline, childhood visual defects, organ transplant rejection,
and the social behaviors of primates.
The Center has four scientific
divisions: Microbiology and Immunology, Neuroscience, Psychobiology,
and Visual Science. In addition, Yerkes is home to the Emory Vaccine
Research Center and the Living Links Center, as well as parts of the
Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and the Center for AIDS Research
at Emory. Yerkes' scientific faculty totals about 180 researchers, including
24 core faculty scientists plus affiliate and collaborative faculty
and research associates. About 100 graduate and undergraduate students
also participate in research and education programs at the Center.
The other seven NPRCs are
located in: Beaverton, Ore.; Davis, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; Covington,
Lou.; San Antonio, Tex.; Seattle, Wash.; and Southborough, Mass.