Emory Report
January 29, 2007
Volume 59, Number 17

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January 29 , 2007
Yerkes Research Center

by lisa newbern

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in collaboration with the Emory Vaccine Center, is bringing together, for the first time, scientists who study immune system function and scientists who study brain systems. The goal of such collaboration is to explore the possibility of developing therapeutic vaccines against noninfectious neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“The world-class immunologists, neuroscientists and brain imaging scientists at Yerkes and the EVC, coupled with state-of-the-art resources at both centers, such as the Yerkes imaging core, position Emory University as one of a very limited number of places worldwide capable of undertaking such an innovative challenge,” said Yerkes Director Stuart Zola.

For more than seven decades, the Yerkes Research Center has been dedicated to advancing scientific understanding and to improving human health and well-being. Today, the Yerkes Research Center is a multidisciplinary research institute making landmark discoveries in the fields of neuroscience, microbiology and immunology, psychobiology and sensory-motor systems. The research advancements made at Yerkes have positioned the center well for its leading role in helping Emory University explore new frontiers in science and technology.

The Yerkes Research Center’s unique positioning also is supporting the coupling of science and technology to develop a National Institutes of Health-funded Biomedical Informatics Research Network, which supports basic and translational research. Yerkes’ role is to develop a test bed for linking brain imaging, behavior and molecular informatics in preclinical nonhuman primate models of neurodegenerative disease. The Yerkes BIRN test bed also will use BIRN resources for data sharing among the eight national primate research centers, as well as other regional centers.

Such knowledge sharing is a hallmark of the Yerkes Research Center’s role as an international resource for research with nonhuman primates. To further the knowledge and resources the center offers, Yerkes is redeveloping its field station located in Lawrenceville.

This satellite location houses approximately 2,300 of the center’s animals and, in addition to supporting several areas of research, serves as the center’s breeding colony.

“We’re excited for construction to begin later this year on a new clinical veterinary medical and administration building,” said Mark Sharpless, Yerkes’ field station operations manager. “This new construction will complement the recently completed construction of specific pathogen- free animal housing facilities.”

The SPF animal housing is paramount in supporting the center’s work to produce SPF and genetically characterized rhesus macaques for NIH-supported AIDS-related research.

Yerkes also is investing in two center-wide programs to help researchers retain their research funding. The first is a mentoring program through which researchers will receive critical feedback from more experienced, internal colleagues before the researchers submit their proposals to the appropriate funding agencies.

The second program will provide monetary support between grants. Such bridging can be granted for ongoing projects when a competitive renewal application is not funded. This support is intended to allow researchers to continue their work from the time one grant ends until another begins.