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Pilot Research Projects

Yerkes NPRC Selects 2017 Pilot Projects

The following four 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:

"Developing a genetic NHP model of social deficits of relevance for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)"

Lead researcher: Zsofia Kovacs-Balint, PhD

The researchers plan to use social behavioral data collected from more than 100 juveniles at the Yerkes Field Station to identify social phenotypes, including deficits of relevance for ASD, and to sequence genes of relevance for ASD in the animals to identify genetic variants that predict social deficits.

"Immune activation in an alpha-synuclein non-human primate model of Parkinson’s disease"

Lead researcher: Valerie Joers, PhD

The researchers will develop a viral vector-mediated overexpressing mutant Asyn monkey model to investigate the local inflammatory environment following Asyn-induced nigral cell death. Results from this study would provide a preclinical platform for Yerkes and other researchers to further assess first-in-class immunomodulatory and neuroprotective therapies for Parkinson's disease.

"Maternal consumption of a high-fat diet and obesity alter milk essential fatty acid profiles and impair infant neurodevelopment"

Lead researcher: Kelly Ethun, DVM, PhD

This project will seek to understand how maternal consumption of a typical American diet and diet-induced obesity can impair infant neurodevelopment via breastmilk.

"Mechanisms Underlying Unconventional Rhesus CMV Vector Immunogenicity"

Lead researcher: Edward Mocarski, PhD

The researchers plan to bring a new and novel vaccine vector into use at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in order to generate data that will support future studies on protection mechanisms as well as mechanisms leading to the novel response characteristics generated by the vaccine vector to induce protective immunity against Simian AIDS.

This pilot project is jointly funded by Yerkes and Emory's Center for AIDS Research.

information about the new NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative to strengthen the biomedical research enterprise is here.

Pilot Project Face Page