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Pilot Research Projects

2019 Pilot Project Applications

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center is seeking proposals for new Pilot Research projects that will be funded from the upcoming year of the center's P51 base grant. We expect to make two to three awards.
These Pilot Research awards will provide one year of support for up to $70,000 in direct costs. Although the awards are open to all investigators, the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure (ORIP) guidelines require the direct involvement of a Yerkes Core Scientist.

We especially encourage applications from early career investigators and applications that propose translational research projects. Also, projects that involve the active participation of investigators external to Yerkes are strongly encouraged, as are projects involving investigators who have not previously used nonhuman primates.

The projects will be judged on their potential to generate high-impact preliminary data that will result in peer-reviewed, research project grants from outside sources, and on how well they meet the five major review criteria per the ORIP NPRC and the NIH Office of Extramural Research guidelines, specifically Significance, Approach, Innovation, Investigator and Environment.

Proposals, which should be submitted as a single PDF to Denise Wardlow, are due February 22, 2019, by 5 pm Eastern. Late applications will not be accepted, and proposals that do not meet all of the requirements will not be reviewed.

More information, including specific application guidelines from the NIH, is available at the link on the right. Contact Dr. Thomas Wichmann, Yerkes Associate Director for Scientific Programs, if you have more questions.

Yerkes NPRC Selects 2018 Pilot Projects

The following three projects were selected based on:

1) their potential to generate high-impact preliminary data that will result in peer-reviewed, research project grants from outside sources, and

2) their alignment with NIH and Yerkes goals


Electrophysiological effects of electrical and chemical inhibition of the thalamic burst in a non-human primate model of focal motor seizures 

Annaelle Devergnas, PhD and Thomas Wichmann, PhD

The researchers will study the effects of focal motor seizures and potentially therapeutic modulation of thalamic bursting activities on the cortico-thalamic network. 

Aim 1: To characterize seizure-related firing abnormalities of neurons in the ventral motor thalamus of the thalamus during focal motor seizures; and

Aim 2: To evaluate the effects of local injections of T-type calcium channel blockers (Aim 2A), or of GPi electrical stimulation (Aim 2B) on seizure-associated thalamic bursting activities. 


Development and comparison of technology for automated high-throughput cognitive phenotyping in large social groups of rhesus monkeys

Robert Hampton, PhD, Mar Sanchez, PhD, and Kelly Ethun, DVM, PhD

The researchers will develop new techniques for cognitive testing that allow cognitive phenotyping at the colony scale.

Aim 1: Develop a simple method for upgrading existing automated feeders into cognitive testing systems, working in collaboration with Biodaq and Yerkes staff; and

Aim 2: Determine the extent to which regulating access to “free feeding mode” in the automated feeders will enhance collection of cognitive data in a large group of socially housed monkeys.


Modulation of type I IFN signaling to reduce the immunogenicity of recombinant AAV vectors

Mauricio Martins, PhD, and Steve Bosinger, PhD

The researchers postulate that blocking IFN-I signaling during the early phases of rAAV administration will reduce the immunogenicity of the delivered mAb and improve its expression in vivo. This project will address two questions related to how IFN-I signaling impacts rAAV-mediated gene transfer:

1) Are ADAs suppressed or delayed by blocking IFN-I signaling during rAAV administration? and

2) Does IFN-I receptor blockade during rAAV administration improve the concentration and persistence of the delivered mAb in serum?


Pilot Project Application