Nonhuman Primates
Group-housed research macaques. Image © Understanding Animal Research/Wellcome Images

Research with nonhuman primates represents a vital step on the path from scientific discovery to new treatment. Today, as we enter an era where we can unravel the mysteries of the genome and understand diseases at the molecular level, the role of nonhuman primates is more critical than ever in the search for cures.

Nonhuman primates represent a crucial research model

Biologists have discovered striking similarities between nonhuman primate species and human beings. For this reason, nonhuman primates are critical to biomedical research targeting the causes, progression, prevention, and treatment of a wide variety of human diseases. Furthermore, the benefits move in both directions because breakthroughs in human medicine are also used to treat diseases in other animals, including nonhuman primates.

Animal research is conducted under strict supervision

All research with animals must meet certain oversight requirements. This includes prior review of research plans by an institutional animal care and use committee to determine whether animals are needed to answer a given scientific question. Research involving nonhuman primates receives special scrutiny. In addition, research animals must be provided with appropriate food, water, housing, and veterinary care. The vast majority of research animals are specially bred rats and mice. Nonhuman primates comprise a tiny fraction of all research animals yet they play a critical role in medical progress on a wide variety of diseases.

More Information

NIH Revises Plans for Moving Elderly, Frail Chimpanzees

On October 18, 2018 NIH Director Francis Collins announced that NIH would implement new criteria for decisions about transferring chimpanzees from their current homes in research facilities to the Chimp Haven federal sanctuary.

Spotlight on Nonhuman Primate Research

September 7, 2016, NIH held a workshop on “Ensuring the Continued Responsible Oversight of Research with Non-Human Primates.”

NIH to End All Chimpanzee Research

NIH Director Francis Collins has announced a plan to retire all NIH-owned chimpanzees.

The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research

A newly released white paper, The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research, outlines the importance of research involving nonhuman primates. Experts from the APS contributed to this report, as did experts from other scientific societies.

The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research

A white paper outlining the importance of research involving nonhuman primates. (PDF)

Fact Sheet on Nonhuman Primates

A fact sheet about nonhuman primates in research developed by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). (PDF)

Report on Primates in Research

The Report on Primates in Research produced by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust details the invaluable role primates have played in medical research. (Statistics cited are for the UK.)

Linking Research to Healthy Living

A PDF from the National Primate Research Centers that describes the role of nonhuman primate research in health discoveries and the hope it provides for the future.