Health

Yerkes National Primate Research Center

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Advancing Science and Improving Health for More Than 75 years

Established in 1930, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University is dedicated to advancing scientific understanding and to improving human health and well-being. The Center is one of only eight National Institutes of Health–designated national primate research centers that provide specialized scientific resources, expertise and training opportunities.

Researchers at Yerkes are making life-changing discoveries in neuroscience, microbiology and immunology. One of the Center”s primary goals, working with the Emory Vaccine Center, is to develop an AIDS vaccine to combat the global epidemic now affecting more than 42 million people. Other significant research programs are seeking ways to: increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Parkinson”s and Alzheimer”s; unlock the secrets of memory; treat drug addiction; determine behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy; address vision disorders; advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior; and interpret brain activity through imaging. The Yerkes Research Center is the only national primate research center to have onsite MRI, PET and cyclotron facilities.

Yerkes director, Stuart Zola, PhD, says, "We are conducting this research because it is essential to answer fundamental science questions that can lead to preventions, better treatments and cures. Yerkes, as one of only eight National Institutes of Health–designated national primate research centers, is uniquely positioned to carry out such diverse research."

Research Underway in Gwinnett County
The Yerkes Research Center maintains two locations: a 25-acre Main Center on the Emory University campus in Atlanta and a 117-acre Field Station in Lawrenceville.

The Field Station, built in 1966, houses approximately 2,250 nonhuman primates across four species. Large compounds in which the animals are socially housed provide naturalistic environments for Yerkes researchers to study primate behavior. The similarity of nonhuman primates to humans in genetic makeup, behavior and organ-system function provides irreplaceable opportunities to better understand, prevent and treat human disease.

Animal Care a Top Priority
"Yerkes is regulated by numerous agencies that have very specific guidelines to make sure the animals are treated humanely," Zola says. "Every research project is thoroughly reviewed before it starts, and there even is a framework for dealing with the psychological well-being of the animals. The groundbreaking discoveries made at Yerkes would not be possible without the knowledge and conviction of our researchers and staff who are as dedicated to scientific discovery as they are to the highest quality animal care and enrichment," Zola continued.

The Center is fully accredited by the independent Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). The National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Emory”s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee also regulate the Center”s research.

The Yerkes Research Center will continue to build upon its solid foundation of scientific advancements while offering the promise that discoveries made at the Center will improve the health of our nation and the world.

For more information about Yerkes, visit www.yerkes.emory.edu.